The Declined Aesthetics of Human Rights Discourses: How to Fix A Western Failure

Courtesy: The Atlantic.

I am pretty sure you would not be surprised by this cover photo stuck. This meeting between the Afghan freedom fighters and former POTUS Ronald Reagan is true of utter significance. It shows how President Reagan in his early days of diplomacy effectively tried to handle the situation in Afghanistan in the last years of the USSR Regime, which itself is of essential notice. This image signifies something we must note, with utter humility, when Reagan said the following in Remarks to the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts in Springfield on April 21, 1988:

America, by supporting freedom fighters against brutal dictatorships, is helping to advance the values we hold most dear: peace, freedom, human rights, and yes, democracy. At the same time, we’re helping to secure our own freedom by raising the cost of Soviet aggression and by extending the battle for freedom to the far frontier. Some say the Soviet Union is reappraising its foreign policy these days to concentrate on internal reform. Well, clearly, there are signs of change. But if there is change, it’s because the costs of aggression and the real moral difference between our systems were brought home to it. If we hope to see a more fundamental change, we must remain strong and firm. If we fulfill our responsibility to set the limits, as well as offering constructive cooperation, then this could indeed turn out to be a turning point in the history of East-West relations.

Reagan understood that Western passivity could not end the Cold War: it instead vexed the narrative further in stitches for both the Soviets and the US. After all, Mikhail Gorbachev’s pro-democratic yet restrictive reforms in the 1990s did fail after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we also know, as the Helsinki Commission reports, that despite the fact that there were some Soviet Republics like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ( Read Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz & Christof Hartmann (2001) Elections in Asia: A data handbook, Volume I, p 478) did initially support the USSR and like the Brexit question of 2006, the same question was asked by the Baltics, the Central Asians and the Russians — In or Out?

Also, read Constitutional Ethics & the Machiavellian Trap in India: the Privacy Example & Why Emotional Intelligence is Promissory to Civilizational Growth and not Cognitive Dissonance?

What did happen? Well, unlike the 51.9% Brexit vote, the collective vote legislated by Gorbachev’s USSR had an approximate turnout of 70% in favour of keeping the Soviet Union. Still, the August coup happened and the USSR became history. That is also a significant reason beyond Boris Yeltsin’s nationalist measures of a Russian state, which only Vladimir Putin could fulfil. Thus, if you look at the history of the Cold War only, you will realize why negotiability and confidence-building measures have ideological capital and resonance.

Why Should We Discuss The Role of Ideology in Shaping Human Rights Aesthetics?

Well, perhaps this year is the best way to understand the geopolitical issues we are seeing in 2020. Kashmir, COVID19, US-China economic tussle, the European aftermath and also Donald Trump’s Re-election woes have been at the top of the outset in general. But what if we dump the mainstream media for a while and see how the real world behaves. Let us do it.

So — no Left-Right Media wishes to report how Palestinians cooperated with the Mayor of Jerusalem in the COVID19 crisis in Israel. The media people are so short-sighted that they have a Eurocentric but unreasonable agenda to bash anyone who even gives a second thought to do something good. Well, see what Hani Reit, the director of the Silwan, Abu Tor and Ras al-Amud community centre, said:

Some people are angry over our cooperation with the municipality but they know that my goal is to help the people, which I couldn’t do in the past. This doesn’t mean we’re not Palestinians, that’s who we are and that won’t change. But for the time being we have to rely on the Israeli establishment.

Dr Hagai Agmon-Snir, the director-general of the Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center said this:

We see a trend in which the old orientalist concept, by which East Jerusalem is made up of villages, clans, and hostile Palestinian organizations, is being replaced by a new perspective — Jerusalem’s eastern part enables a civil society to flourish, and is home to activists and professionals, just like in the western part of the city[.]

This is a positive sign in the politics of Israel-Palestine. I hope something changes and Israel’s political winds reverse being acerbic. Nevertheless, the International Media does not even care for this and will share its White Supremacist, Islamophobic, and even anti-Hindu (not anti-Hindutva, precisely, with utmost humility) propaganda every single day on Twitter handle Facebook pages and rotten websites. They have become so ‘expert’ like Yuval Noah Harari, a misleading person, who does not only fall prey to a no-reform neoliberal vision of the international community, led by Obama, Merkel and Cameroon but also provides ammunition to the supporters of Bernie Sanders, Rahul Gandhi and Jeremy Corbyn — a new kind of ‘Democratic’ Socialism, without limbs and brain.

We must understand that the problem with the ecosystem of discourses related to international law, international relations and foreign policy, must not be based on a unipolar ideology: this was the cruellest approach adopted by Henry Kissinger against India in 1971, for example — and the US saw what happened to East Pakistan: it became Bangladesh. India is now a stabilizing superpower under Modi and Jaishankar and will surely gauge a path for Trump and Boris Johnson to stop China’s influence in Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Margaret Thatcher, despite her failures, never believed in a one-ideology system; neither did Atal Bihari Vajpayee in India. Somewhere down the line, the problem regarding the colonization of a malfunctioned version of globalism and neoliberalism as two coherent ideologies had started when Germany could not realize how to curb Russia’s influence beyond the pro-West and pro-EU approach, India failed to use its cultural confidence and let the Chinese Communists misuse their Chinese pluralism via the BRI and Obama proved to be half-hearted in his measures to prevent Islamophobia in the US and Europe. Multipolarity had already shown signs when the 2008 crash happened, followed by years of ‘slacktivism’: leading to nothing but severe tragedies in the Middle East. Syria was more of a Europeanized version of a Middle Eastern state. What it became in this unreasonable civil war since 2011 is the outcome of a sluggish and unapologetic policy by Syrian PM Bashar Al Assad, and sheer disrespect of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s means to cause Cessation of Hostilities in 2012 via the UNSMIS mechanism mandated by the United Nations Security Council.

So — let us understand one of the most controversial issues of the history of the United Nations — the Kashmir conflict in a more out-of-the-box approach. The International Media has misled the world, especially Al Jazeera and A+ for most of the times, to quote the Modi Government in India as a ‘Hindu Nationalist Government’. Well, even if you check the way nation-states are described by journalists in the Reporters Without Borders website, you will find that most of the descriptions about nation-states and their political conditions by journalists, is utterly one-sided, immature and ideologically obscure. I do not know how this is a good and credible form of journalism.

Well, let us discuss Delhi’s aesthetic plight with Kashmir, and India’s Foreign Policy Nexus with the same issue carefully. I know that by the time I will speak Kashmir, people will shout about 70 years of human rights violations and will condemn the Indian Government about Article 370. Well — keeping the legal issue aside, because it does not matter anymore — conditions in Kashmir have not worsened, but even have not become so better. This aspect is agreeable and consensual among all, for least. I understand that the Kashmiris have been suffering a lot and the situation has become so exacerbated that even the civilians, who wish to leave peacefully, and happily, are — due to lack of cash and means to live and prosper, have become bound to fringe groups and other IHL-defined non-state actors from West Pakistan and other adjacent regions. This has been always the key problem since the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, a Pakistani PM and the death of Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan in the 1950s.

It is undoubtedly true that the J&K Administration has been corrupt under various regimes, and the two principal dynastic parties in Kashmir have not been quite helpful to the Kashmiris despite the poor Kashmiris’ faith and trust on them (if there was because it seems quite stagnant for sure).

Therefore, the Kashmir question is not attributable to a bias-related to Kashmiri Hindus, who have suffered in the 1990s, but more of cultural pluralism, the need to evolve (not revolutionize) respect of cultural institutions and human integrity. I would not suggest what the Government should do because it is not my work to do. I believe as Syed Akbaruddin said, who was India’s Permanent Representative to the UN — that nation-states must negotiate and diplomats and administrative bodies have different concerns. Sir Keir Starmer, the UK Labour Party leader supports India’s sovereign imperative, which is a welcomed move.

Let us also remember what K Nagaraj Naidu, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN said on January 13, 2020, in the Open Debate in the UN Security Council:

Too often, the international community adopts a technocratic, one-size-fits-all approach that can be damaging. Transitional justice has become steeped in western liberalism, often appearing as distant and remote to those who actually need it most. Rebuilding social capital and livelihood systems is harder than restoring infrastructures and institutions. […] If transitional justice is conceived merely as a band-aid that can be applied to past harms during some unspecified and limited period of ‘transition’, without any suggestion that it is attached to some deeper change in the society, it is unlikely that these measures will have any transformational capacity.

That is also a reason why the International Media is liable for poorly made and traditionally tabloid-centric measures to communicate and let people know about COVID19. Quoting Bill Maher, the American Comedian would seem unacademic, but worth for food of thought:

Reform the Ideology of Human Rights Discourses Before It’s Too Late

I would like to propose some reforms in the dialogues and discourses which must happen in the ecosystem of human rights. My simple propositions are not exhaustive, and neither I believe they are absolute, so please be kind enough to weigh your words properly:

  • First, the idea that human rights are a universal concept, ie, jus cogens in international human rights law must leave its Machiavellian and Frankestinian touch immediately. It neither can be a populist approach, nor a Kleptocratic one, and obviously, not the nihilistic one. You cannot interpret the skeletal framework of human rights violations in a nihilist and isolationist manner. Also, based on certain ethical hierarchies, human rights must be interpreted in such a manner that the essential principles of liberty and life are not curtailed, but magnified, because in reality — that is not happening, especially in issues related to cultural defeatism and terrorism. White Supremacy, Jewish Hatred and Islamophobia — all Semitism-related issues have nearly the same correlations. They are interpreted in a judgemental and poorly fashioned manner by the West that there is no new and open ground to revisit and understand how the world needs a communitarian way to deal with anthropocentric issues related to human rights, not in an Ethnocentric and pro-Democracy (means pro-Western Democratic biases) manner, but as I propose — in a more anthropomorphic way. And we have an example of the same. India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar — was urged by the UN to help out in the Israel-Palestine matter. India has already provided this model in many of its speeches and statements. For reference, at least for now — check the statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Naidu of India at the UN quoted above.
  • Second, as the Global South and the Global North have serious and different issues related to the rise of populism, they are also different in case of upholding the human rights of their states. We need a new era of UN Diplomacy, like Sergio de Mello, Kofi Annan and Boutros-Boutros Ghali wished for. We need such nations, which have no ethnocentric or imperialist designs nor they have any expansionist designs entirely in any way. China, the US and the UK will not qualify for this because they have lost their international legitimacy at the peril of their own policies. I propose there are few countries which can really help out in this matter and form a chain of revised partnerships to gauge a new aesthetic discourse related to international human rights, which are India, Singapore, Japan, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. Maybe with time, even African nations can weigh a lot in these matters considering their mutual diversification and strength to fight ethnocentrism and expansionist designs of China and the West.
  • Upholding human rights has become easier than the gone days of the Cold War of the times of aristocracies before Hitler and Mussolini. We must let nation-states decide how to shape up their human rights regimes, but at the same time, we must question and vehemently adjudge the credibility of the NGOs, media organizations and the human rights bodies emanated from the states (like human rights commissions for example) so as to empower them, but also to keep a relatively subsidiary, transregional check on these private and public actors first, so that they do not mislead the public and the international community. I think probably the first organization which must be reformed within 2–3 years is the United Nations Human Rights Council, anyways, at any stake.

I second Nikki Haley’s remarks that merely being biased to one state and not focusing on other issues, chairing Syria and Venezuela presidencies of UNCSW and UNHRC, is a disgrace to what the West demanded, and also to what the international community had pled the world for.

  • The International Media needs to be fixed and forced to pay for its redemptions. It is pretty obvious that we cannot have a multilateral approach to condone the international media because there are media outlets, who follow their own constraints of subsidiarity when it comes to the dissemination of information in cyberspace. Contaminated cyberspace cannot help reasonable and balanced outlets grow, and therefore, is another kind of crony capitalism among media outlets from the Left-Right trio, which has not only destroyed the evolutionary discourse of political science for the globe but has disabled common people from all around the world, who have pure globalist ambitions to do something good for all — leading to mass-level ideological obscurantism. Period. Therefore, the best way to handle the mess is not just to decide a set of guidelines, which are rigged or based on poor aesthetics of reasoning. The guidelines must have a visionary reflex to encompass how changes are to be understood.

We must rely on data, but we need not idolize them — because scientific reasonings on various studies if are segregated on the basis on an isolationist view of analysis and are not reasonably accredited and correlated in the most wiser way to deal with problems that affect us, then this is sheer stupidity. The art of wisdom captures the thresholds that sciences warn us. That is why scientists cannot be political leaders and why artificial intelligence fails to upbring human values but can detect and segregrate people so easily. Period.

  • A better way to deal with human rights crises and their problems is the jurisdictional approach to declutter ideological obscurantism, which I propose via this article. Well — it simply means that when ideological influences based on human rights issues damage the social thinking and political conscience of a society, it is the responsibility of the arbiter or the judge to declutter ideological obscurantism, by recording, estimating and upholding constitutionalism by democratizing a plurilateral manner of decision-making or affirming estimations of the problems. Furthermore, in this approach, we must assume that communication is a delicate and central affair to the matter, but with time, we must (a) not fall prey to ideological obscurantism again by the paradox of following the notion that ideologies have precedents (the reason is obvious — only the legal and ethical skeleton of the matters can have precedential (in case of internal issues) or customary (in case of international law) validation and scrutiny); and (b) assume that plurilateral approaches to respect the anthropological order and cultural pluralism must concede with the multilateral framework of ethics and law in such a manner that the multilateral framework does not intervene in the communitarian ethos of ideologies and does not formalize nor crucify the very essence of ideological diversity that the ecosystem of ideologies assumes. If this is not implemented, it would be a sure betrayal to the political values of Hans Kelsen, Chanakya, John Rawls and Immanuel Kant.

I may be cryptic or unreasonable, but I am really open to discussions in a respectful and discretionary manner.

Host, Indus Think | Founder of Think Tanks & Journals | AI-Global Law Futurist | YouTuber | Views Personal on the Indus Think Blog