a quarter of a billion – an addendum

I had some doubts this morning about posting the previous entry. And more doubts since reading R.J. Rummell’s blog more thoroughly. I’d almost decided to delete that post, but then thought doing so would hide a mistake.

It started in his post, On Democratization And Its Globalization where he says “I support Bush’s foreign policy and Iraq War”, and he really lost it for me in Torture? Yes, Of Course, where he took the abhorrent line that came out after Abu Ghraib in which torture was justifiable under certain circumstances, and claims that is an acceptable position as a, what he terms, “situational moralist”, or what I prefer to call a dissembler.

His entry on Wikipedia has been tagged “may not conform to the neutral point of view policy”, and the discussion of this all relate to his figures for genocide, and whether they are reliable. However, all this is moot.

My issue is that there are a few positions we must take as human beings, and which are absolutely non-negotiable. By discarding these we cease to be human.

While in Zürich, I saw The Forsythe Company perform Human Writes, which I wrote about earlier, and I believe Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states one of these positions quite clearly: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Rummel, through his sophism insists that such a position makes me “like the absolute pacifist who says no to even defending his (sic) democratic country against outright attack by a foreign tyrant, and thus contributes, no matter how small, to defeat, and were that to happen, to all the lives lost in the resulting occupation (leave aside the person’s willingness to stand aside and let others sacrifice themselves for his freedom)”. I think by aligning himself in favour of the Iraq war and occupation and with a position on torture which is morally repugnant, he has bought all his work and his motives for engaging in such research into serious question.

My response would be again from Jacques Derrida:

We must (il faut) more than ever stand on the side of human rights. We need (il faut) human rights. We are in need of them and they are in need, for there is always a lack, a shortfall, a falling short, an insufficiency, human rights are never sufficient.

—Jacques Derrida – Philosophy in a Time of Terror (2003)

And from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly,

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

—Universal Declaration of Human Rights.