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From the White Man's Burden to the Responsible Saviour: Justifying Humanitarian Intervention in Libya

Barbarians and Civilized Intervention

To Be or Not To Be, Shakespeare's Hamlet mused. In the light of human intervention, one might ask: To be human or not to be human. For Tim Ingold, human is not a noun but a verb. The process of becoming human is open-ended. In Greco-Roman tradition the idea of being human was to be civilised. In particular, the so-called Humanitas Romana was essentially linked with the idea of civilisation. Humans were not naturally born as human but rather nurtured into becoming human through education and sympathy. Hence, Greco-Roman society made a distinction between those who were civilized (full-pledged educated humans) and those who were uncivilized such as the barbarian or foreigner or slave.

These ideas prevailed albeit defined in different ways regarding who belonged to the civilised. Lewis Henry Morgan, in the mid-19th century, combined Charles Darwin's recent work on evolution with Humanitas Romana to set out a theory of social evolution. Morgan compared Indigenous communities in North America with European civilization and divided human cultures into three categories: savagery; barbarism; civilization. He held that Western culture is the pinnacle of cultural development in his unilineal evolutionary scheme. Consequently, human society was understood as progressing from primitive forms to the most advanced, passing through the stages of savagery, barbarism, and civilization.

Such notions of human society also would be incorporated into the conceptualisation of justified intervention. John Stuart Mill, in Few Words on Non-Intervention, laid out the main lines for justifying liberal interventionism. Mill held that England is an exceptional nation that is characterised by altruism, in the service of others. Its selfless foreign policy is dedicated to peace. Mill made his case against intervention on moral grounds. However, there is one exception to that rule: `One fundamental distinction'. He argued that the rule does not apply in the case of `barbarians'.

So damn closely related to Borrell's recent fascist declaration of Europe as the Garden and the outside Jungle of "Savages or Barbarians., the Uncivilised" ... fill out your preference.

What happened to the notion  "All men are created equal?"

The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, signed in Paris on 10 December 1948, just like the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, have the same origins.

Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen - rétrospective (1989)

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Aug 1st, 2023 at 02:27:05 PM EST


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