Brings to mind this famous quote by Jean Rostand: “Kill one man and you are a murderer. Kill millions and you are a conqueror. Kill all and you are a God.” And also the broken window fallacy.
More cartoons here.
As an update of this previous post, here’s some more information about the nature of the relationship between economic growth and poverty reduction.
In a recent paper, Lane Kenworthy has compared growth and income data for 17 developed countries. Specifically, he looked at the ways in which the incomes of people in low to middle income groups benefit from economic growth. “Growth” here means increases in the amount of per capita GDP – this caveat is necessary in order to filter out economic growth that is the result of population growth and that doesn’t make the average person better off (although it obviously can make some persons better off, immigrants for instance). “Income” includes both wages and welfare benefits or other government transfers. Another preliminary remark: it’s wrong to think that growth automatically and by definition makes everyone – and hence also the poor – better off. It just makes the average person better off. That means that it can also in some circumstances make some people – e.g. the poor – worse off. Growth numbers are silent about the distribution of the effects of growth.
which of these two mechanisms has been most prominent in the 17 countries examined in the paper?
The answer is “number 2″. Why? Well, in some of the selected countries economic growth was accompanied by a significant rise in low-to-middle household incomes, while in the other countries the effect of economic growth on the incomes of people in low-to-middle income groups was much smaller or zero. If economic growth trickles down (1), then one would assume it trickles down in all or most countries. After all, if growth results in more and better paid jobs for the poor, then there’s no a priori reason why this result would occur in one country but not in another.
The nature of government transfer systems is the reason why the effect of growth on the incomes of the poor is not the same in all countries:
when households on low incomes got better off, it was due most often to a rise in net government transfers. Where net transfers increased, incomes tended to increase in concert with economic growth. Norway, the UK, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark illustrate this pattern. Where net transfers were stagnant, income trends were decoupled from growth of the economy. We observe this in the United States, Canada, and Switzerland. This is an important finding. It means that, as a general rule, growth has not trickled down to low income households through wages or employment. And it means that, when government transfers haven’t grown, wages and employment haven’t stepped in to take their place. (source)
Looking at all this from the perspective of the causes of poverty: it’s clear that poor economic growth in wealthy countries cannot, by itself, explain poverty, because these countries can witness both growth and stagnation of the lowest incomes (as a result of their failure to implement the necessary transfer programs). Hence you can have growth without poverty reduction. If lack of growth is the main cause of poverty, then growth would by itself and automatically reduce poverty. We see that this is not the case.
In poor countries, on the other hand, growth can perhaps be sufficient. Those countries start from a lower base and more can trickle down. A lack of growth can, therefore, explain the persistence of poverty in developing countries, but probably not in developed countries. The latter have a basis of wealth that is large enough to fund welfare programs even if growth is poor. Growth helps to make this funding easier, but it’s not really necessary. A more progressive tax system, coupled with some good legislative will, can also do the trick.
I think point 3 in this cartoon is extremely relevant. A lot of polls, especially internet polls, are completely ruined by self-selection. I explained here why that’s a problem and what the consequences can be (for instance, political polarization and “gladiator politics“).
More cartoons by Boligan here. More cartoons about modern slavery are here. More information about modern slavery is here and here (more about slavery in general is here). More about labor conditions is here. And here‘s more about sweatshops. Some statistics on modern slavery are here. And here are some more human rights cartoons.
I’ve argued before in favor of possible and limited restrictions on hate speech (see here, here, here and here). Although I take human rights, and especially freedom of expression, very seriously (I wouldn’t be writing this blog otherwise), I also believe that hate speech can produce hate crime. It’s a thin line between hateful words and hateful actions. Impressionable people can be led to violent crimes by hate speech. This is called incitement to violence. I do understand the problems with this justification of limits on freedom of speech: it can be abused by those who want to muzzle their opponents. If people react violently to criticism, ridicule or insults, then they may claim – wrongly in my view – that the responsibility for the violent acts lies with those making “incendiary remarks”. You can read my objections against this type of argument here.
Nevertheless, I think there are other cases in which hateful words can turn into hateful crimes. The classic example is Radio Mille Collines, the Rwandan hate radio that called for the extermination of the Tutsi ethnic minority population before and during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide (it infamously swept up the Hutu’s to start a “final war” to “exterminate the cockroaches“):
During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) broadcast anti-Tutsi propaganda and called for violence against Tutsis, which many experts believe significantly contributed to the violence. An interesting new job-market paper by David Yanagizawa seeks to determine the precise role that RTLM played in the genocide. Yanagizawa relies on “arguably exogenous variation in radio coverage generated by hills in the line-of-sight between radio transmitters and village” to determine the causal effects of RTLM. He finds that RTLM played a significant role in the genocide: full village radio coverage increased violence by 65 percent to 77 percent. The effects are larger in villages with a large Hutu majority and in villages without access to other information sources i.e. villages with lower literacy rates. In total, Yanagizawa calculates that the radio station’s broadcasts explain 45,000 deaths (or 9 percent of the total death toll). (source)
If this is correct, it’s difficult to maintain the doctrinal position that freedom of speech is always and absolutely beneficial and worthy of protection without exception. Unless of course you claim that freedom of speech is more important than the right to life. I refer to an older post on balancing different human rights.
Don’t get me wrong, freedom of speech is absolutely vital, for many different reasons (some as fundamental as thought itself, see here), and no regular reader of this blog can say that I’m ambivalent about it. But what I do object to is the school of thought that believes free speech is the uppermost value, trumping all others in all cases and all circumstances. Maybe this quote from Isaiah Berlin can help to get my point across:
I came to the conclusion that there is a plurality of ideals, as there is a plurality of cultures and of temperaments. I am not a relativist; I do not say “I like my coffee with milk and you like it without; I am in favor of kindness and you prefer concentration camps” — each of us with his own values, which cannot be overcome or integrated. This I believe to be false. But I do believe that there is a plurality of values which men can and do seek, and that these values differ. There is not an infinity of them: the number of human values, of values that I can pursue while maintaining my human semblance, my human character, is finite — let us say 74, or perhaps 122, or 26, but finite, whatever it may be. (source)
This description of Berlin’s value pluralism is from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
According to Berlin’s pluralism, genuine values are many, and may—and often do—come into conflict with one another. When two or more values clash, it does not mean that one or another has been misunderstood; nor can it be said, a priori, that any one value is always more important than another. Liberty can conflict with equality or with public order; mercy with justice; love with impartiality and fairness; social and moral commitment with the disinterested pursuit of truth or beauty; … knowledge with happiness; spontaneity and free-spiritedness with dependability and responsibility. Conflicts of values are “an intrinsic, irremovable part of human life”; the idea of total human fulfillment is a chimera. “These collisions of values are of the essence of what they are and what we are”; a world in which such conflicts are resolved is not the world we know or understand. … “we are faced with choices between ends equally ultimate, and claims equally absolute, the realisation of some of which must inevitably involve the sacrifice of others”.
In a previous post in this series, I already mentioned the temptation to see things in data that just aren’t there, or to make data say things they don’t really say. I focused on the correlation-causation problem, a typical case of “jumping to conclusions”.
Elsewhere I gave the following example: there are data doing the rounds claiming that Republicans follow political news more closely than Democrats, which has some people saying that Republicans are more knowledgable and make better political choices. However, people don’t read more news because they are Republicans, but because they are relatively wealthy and older, and when they are they also tend to be more of the Republican type. So if you see data showing a correlation between political conservatism and attention to the news, don’t jump to conclusions and say that conservatives are inherently more attentive to the news, let alone that they make better political choices. A young and relatively poor conservative probably pays less attention than a wealthy and older liberal. Attention isn’t a function of political orientation. It has other causes.
However, as is evident from the cartoon above, data don’t have to be of the correlation type for people to see things in them that aren’t there. People have indeed interpreted popular rejection of healthcare reform or of the Obama administration in general as an expression of underlying racism, as if there can’t be any other reasons for rejection.*
Polling on the health-care bill is … complicated. Voters don’t know much about the plan. Most disapprove of it, but many disapprove because they want to see it go further. (source)
So there’s a “double jump” to conclusions in the cartoon:
All this jumping is quite understandable. We always have to interpret data, and we can easily lose our way in the process. It’s also tempting to “find” explanations for data that fit with our pre-established opinions and biases.
* Personally, I’m in favor of reform.
What a delightful way to expose the lack of seriousness with which world leaders address human rights in China. Other cartoons about human rights and China:
I think it may be helpful to distinguish two types of human rights violations. Or, to be more precise: two types of effects of human rights violations, because many violations will show characteristics of the two types. I’ll call the two types “lighthouse violations” and “searchlight violations”. To clarify these weird sounding names, I have an example.
In the UK, about 85.000 women were raped in 2006. In the US, during the same year, 92.455 rapes were reported. Real numbers are much higher, of course, because there are many unreported cases. In South Africa, one in four men admits to having raped someone. One in 8 more than once. Rape, as well as other types of violence against women (but not only women), is obviously a wide-spread social practice and not merely acts of sick individuals. (More on rape here).
As with any case of widespread rights violations, one can understand this in two ways. One can believe that these violations are what I call lighthouse rights violations. In our example, the very fact that rape is a widespread phenomenon makes women aware of the dangers and forces them to adapt their behavior so that they limit the risks. (I talked about human rights and risk here). So the optimist view would be that there are certain automatic restrictions operating in order to limit the number of human rights violations.
The other, more pessimist view, would call widespread human rights violations searchlight violations. If we take the same example, the widespread occurrence of rape can give (certain) men the impression that the practice is normal and acceptable. As a result, the practice becomes even more widespread. Moreover, the practice not only benefits those men who actively engage in it, but men in general because it creates uneven gender relationships, female subjugation, inferiority complexes in women etc. Hence, also women who are not directly victimized by rape tend to be harmed by the practice. Rape shapes cultures, mentalities, gender roles etc.
This is of course a “glass half full or half empty” thing. Rape is both a lighthouse and a searchlight human rights violation. However, I think the more optimist view is probably more correct. If not, we would have to see ever increasing numbers of rights violations, which isn’t the case (at least that’s the intuitive conclusion; human rights measurement is still not a very sophisticated field of research).
Corruption, or “the misuse of public office for private gain”, is not a human rights violation as such (there is no right not to suffer the consequences of corruption), but it is the cause of various rights violations. Notably, it has an impact on economic growth (see here) and hence also on poverty reduction (given the correlation between growth and poverty reduction, see here). Corruption also has an impact on poverty on the level of individuals rather than countries (and there is a right not to suffer poverty). It’s obvious that individuals can make better use of the funds that they (have to) spend on bribes. As depicted in the cartoon, those that are forced to pay bribes are often people who are already vulnerable.
Moreover, corruption eats away at the rule of law. Even in the most corrupt countries, corruption is usually illegal. If illegal activity becomes normal practice, the rule of law is obviously undermined, with possible consequences for judicial protection in general, including protection of human rights. Even more seriously, corruption is associated with political instability since it tends to reduce citizens’ trust and faith in institutions.
As the topic of abortion is back in the news, with the horrible killing of – indeed, terrorist attack on – Dr. Tiller*, maybe it’s useful to link back to one of my older posts on abortion (where I also explain why I believe this is a human rights issue). My position is basically anti-abortion, but I do regret the disdain of many pro-lifers for the rights of the mother. They don’t seem to understand that the rights of the mother should sometimes take precedence (for example when the health or the life of the mother are at risk) and that a tragic choice between mother and fetus should sometimes be decided in favor of the mother. They prefer the simplicity of moral idealism and ignore the tragic nature of a lot of morality in real life.
And neither do they seem to care about the consequences of criminalization of abortion. This quote says it well, I think:
When imagining a future abortion black market and the inherent dangers such a market would introduce to mothers and fetuses alike, I find myself worrying. I worry that it might make matters worse. The life of the mother is sacred, too, and in a black market the most desperate mothers – and especially the poor and the young mothers – would be at a much higher risk then they are now. This hardly seems just. E.D. Kain
We can see what this means in countries where abortion is illegal:
Abortion is illegal in Tanzania (except to save the mother’s life or health), so women and girls turn to amateurs, who may dose them with herbs or other concoctions, pummel their bellies or insert objects vaginally. Infections, bleeding and punctures of the uterus or bowel can result, and can be fatal. Doctors treating women after these bungled attempts sometimes have no choice but to remove the uterus…
Worldwide, there are 19 million unsafe abortions a year, and they kill 70,000 women (accounting for 13 percent of maternal deaths), mostly in poor countries like Tanzania where abortion is illegal, according to the World Health Organization. More than two million women a year suffer serious complications. According to Unicef, unsafe abortions cause 4 percent of deaths among pregnant women in Africa, 6 percent in Asia and 12 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. (source)
The rights of the mother that have to show up in the equation aren’t necessarily limited to health and survival. The right to self-determination of the mother, or her right to decide without government interference what to do with her own body, is perhaps, in some cases, also important enough to override the right to life of the unborn child.
More on abortion and maternal mortality.
Nobody in his right mind would advocate the abolition of prisons. However, no matter how much we agree that putting people in prison is often necessary, we shouldn’t forget that in so doing we limit these people’s human rights. Hence the importance of imprisoning people only when this is necessary.
The problem with the U.S. criminal justice system is that it looks as if this rule isn’t respected: more people are incarcerated than strictly necessary. Just look at some country comparisons here. Either U.S. citizens are distinctively evil, or people and governments in other countries have no problem with crime.
Of course, neither is the case. I can see at least 3 real reasons for the discrepancy in incarceration rates between the U.S. and the rest of the world. It seems that rehabilitation efforts can be much extended, which would lower the number of repeat offenders and the rate of people returning to prison. Another reason is that a large proportion of people in U.S. prisons are either mentally ill or drug abusers. Both types of people belong in hospital rather than in prison.
But the main problem is the misguided “war on drugs”. As a result of the combination of strict prohibition and hard-handed punitive criminal justice, a large group of U.S. citizens find themselves in prison for much too long and for a crime that’s in many cases victimless. Making drugs illegal creates more problems than it solves:
Even a casual observer can see that much of the damage done in the US by illegal drugs is a result of the fact that they are illegal, not the fact that they are drugs. Vastly more lives are blighted by the brutality of prohibition, and by the enormous criminal networks it has created, than by the substances themselves. This is true of cocaine and heroin as well as of soft drugs such as marijuana. But the assault on consumption of marijuana sets the standard for the policy’s stupidity. Nearly half of all Americans say they have tried marijuana. That makes them criminals in the eyes of the law. Luckily, not all of them have been found out – but when one is grateful that most law-breakers go undetected, there is something wrong with the law. Clive Crook (source)
The damage done by the war on drugs ranges from gang violence, HIV/AIDS infections from reused needles, OD’s from tainted drugs, political violence and destabilization in producing countries, to an erosion of civil liberties:
Since a drug transaction has no victims in the ordinary sense, witnesses to assist a prosecution are in short supply. US drug-law enforcement tends to infringe civil liberties, relying on warrantless searches, entrapment, extorted testimony in the form of plea bargains, and so forth. Clive Crook (source)
The benefits of the war on drugs are, on the other hand, indeterminable: drug use is down only moderately. Prohibition has failed as a policy, as it has before in U.S. history. Time to loosen up.
An old cartoon that has become relevant again. The defunct Bush administration decided that its war on terror not only required torture and two wars, but also large scale wiretapping of American citizens. (I posted a nice cartoon about this here). How exactly and why they (and others) did it can be read here.
The belief that members of different castes cannot speak to each other is a gross exaggeration. The English word “caste” does have a connotation of strict separation. It’s from the Latin word castus, “pure, cut off, segregated” (see also castration), but in caste societies such as India there is a lot of interaction between members of different castes. It’s true that the Indian caste system still results in some level of segregation and discrimination between castes (even if the Indian Constitution has outlawed discrimination based on caste), but nothing like what is suggested by the above cartoon, which is almost racist and certainly a denigration of India. See this previous post for a more in-depth analysis of the Indian caste system.
The topic of overpopulation has been discussed several times already on this blog (e.g. here and here), but now I want to focus more specifically on the links between overpopulation and migration. People often, but mistakenly in my view, see two types of links:
I’ll try to argue that both these arguments are wrong and that it is a mistake to link migration to overpopulation in these ways. I’ll start with the first point.
Two things are true about the first argument: migration towards developed countries has increased sharply during the last decades (see here), and population growth in the South has been faster than in the North (see here). What is not true, however, is that the latter has been the cause of the former.
Other social and economic factors, rather than overpopulation, have driven migration. Given the highly regulated nature of migration to the North (green cards, other types of labor certification, visa, border controls etc.), it’s obvious that the people who are able to immigrate are not the poor that are supposedly driven out of their own economies by overpopulation. Only the “jobworthy” who are successful at applying for entry-visas can migrate. (See also here.) And the same is true for illegal immigrants, i.e. those bypassing the regulations. They as well tend to be people who have work prospects in the North, or at least enough money to pay human traffickers.
All this also serves to disprove the second argument above: if migrants in general are not the poorest of the poor, then the second argument doesn’t hold.
However, back to the first argument for a moment. Another economic factor driving migration and completely unconnected to population levels, is the globalization of economic production. Employers in developed countries actively look for relatively cheap workers from the South, and technological improvements in communication, transportation and travel are making this easier.
(One could also point to war and violence as driving forces behind migration, but Malthusians would reply that the real driving force is overpopulation, causing first war and conflict, and then migration. There’s a lot to be said against this, but I’ll keep that for another time).
Regarding the second argument, one can make the following counter-claim. Let’s assume that immigration controls indeed serve the only purpose of keeping people out so as to keep the economy healthy and avoid population shocks which the economy wouldn’t be able to withstand. (Of course, immigration controls in reality serve many other purposes, e.g. pampering xenophobes). If we assume this, we should further assume that existing quotas on immigration (quotas as the result of visa policy, labor permits, family reunion policy etc.) are set in such a way that the number of migrants that are allowed into the country is roughly the number that the economy can sustain. Not higher because then immigration policy would defeat its purpose, but not much lower either because then the restrictions would be unjust and arbitrary.
Given these two assumptions, how do we explain the failure of massive numbers of illegal immigration to destroy host economies? Take for instance the U.S. It’s in an economic crisis right now, but nobody in his right mind claims that immigration is the cause. The U.S. economy was booming for years, and at the same time accommodated millions of legal and illegal immigrants.
To sum up, the tidal wave paranoia of the poor masses of the South engulfing the developed world is just another example of Malthusian hysteria. A simple look at population growth numbers make this abundantly clear. Population has indeed grown more rapidly in the South than in the North (partially because of higher birth rates), but only to return to the same proportion as a few centuries ago. The industrial revolution in the North resulted in more rapid population growth, and the South is now catching up. Fears of growing imbalances and “tsunamis of the poor” aren’t based on facts.
Sweatshops don’t have a very good reputation. They impose degrading working conditions, low salaries, and long hours, and they expose workers to harmful materials, hazardous situations and extreme temperatures. In many cases, the workers are young women who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation – including sexual exploitation – by their bosses. On top of that, many sweatshops violate child labor laws. Hence, sweatshops have been called a form of modern slavery, and not without reason. They indeed look like a microcosm of human rights violations.
Most, but not all, sweatshops are situated in the third world countries, where labor regulations are lax, salaries low and trade unions not very powerful. Third world countries also don’t have a high level of technology intensity in industrial production, making it profitable to employ manual labor. Western companies often outsource high technology factories in the West to low technology sweatshops in the South. In the West, sweatshops also exist, but mostly in the illegal economy.
However, many economists who can’t possibly be accused of heartlessness or indifference when it comes to the problem of global poverty, have defended them. There’s for example Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Nicholas D. Kristof. They argue that the alternatives in many countries are worse. Sweatshops may insult our western sense of justice, but that’s because our economies offer in general much higher standards of work. In third world countries, sweatshops are a step forward for many people. Without the opportunity to work in a sweatshop, many of them would be forced into subsistence farming, garbage scavenging, begging or even prostitution. All these alternatives offer lower incomes and worse conditions.
Furthermore, many of the young women working in sweatshops see their employment as a way out of gender discrimination. It’s a form of liberation from the oppressive local and traditional systems in their rural hometowns. They move to larger industrial towns, earn a living, have their own rooms, and as a result they can escape an early (and often arranged) marriage and early motherhood. And without the burden of an early marriage and motherhood, they can develop their education.
Developing countries starting their manufacturing sectors in the form of sweatshops, can expect improvements elsewhere in their economy:
The growth of manufacturing has a ripple effect throughout the economy. The pressure on the land becomes less intense, so rural wages rise; the pool of unemployed urban dwellers always anxious for work shrinks, so factories start to compete with each other for workers, and urban wages also begin to rise. Paul Krugman
So it’s probably not a good idea to try and abolish sweatshops, or to boycott products produced in sweatshops. We may do more harm than good when we force people out of sweatshops and into other types of employment. What we have to do, however, is to promote better labor standards and working conditions in existing sweatshops, and do so realistically. Demanding immediate implementation of western standards is silly, given the level of development of third world economies, and would result in the end of sweatshops. But western companies that use or trade with sweatshops can be pressured to do something about the worst aspects of sweatshop labor.
All democracies arrest people without a charge or conviction, but they only do so for very short periods of time, usually a very limited number of days. Also, when a charge is filed, democracies want to have a court case as soon as possible. Detention on remand, as it is called, is confinement in a house of detention prior to treatment of a case in court. Generally, this type of detention is imposed, if a person is suspected of a serious crime and if he/she is prone to escape, to tamper with the evidence, to commit further crimes etc. Democracies also want to keep this detention on remand as short as possible, because there is always the risk that an innocent person is imprisoned.
In a well-functioning judicial system, there can be no excessively long detention without a charge or detention on remand. We do not want to incarcerate innocent people. Without a time limit – usually expressed in number of days – detention without charge or detention on remand would be arbitrary arrest. And arbitrary arrest is typical of tyranny. An arbitrary arrest is an arrest of a person without evidence of this person’s involvement in a crime. If there is such evidence, then there can be no problem presenting this evidence within a very short delay, after which the person can be formally charged and a court case can be decide on guilt or innocence, also within relatively short delays. A long delay between an arrest and a formal charge or between an arrest and a court decision on guilt or innocence, would create an injustice if it turns out that the person in question is innocent. The harm done by this possible injustice can be limited is the time frames are short. All this is part of treating people fairly and doing justice.
Unfortunately, the U.S., still a beacon of democracy and the rule of law, has decided that its war on terror forces it to imitate dictatorships and to detain people, in Guantanamo and other places, without a warrant, without a charge, without a fair trial and conviction, and for indefinite periods. Let’s hope the new administration will close these prisons soon and, if there is evidence, formally charge the inmates.
The government in the U.K., not having an equivalent of Guantanamo, has simply decided to change the period:
Is morality linked to culture? Or, in other words, is morality culturally relative? Does every culture have its own moral rules? This is relevant from a human rights perspective because human rights can be seen as moral rules for humanity. However, if morality is culturally relative, then this is a problem. Universality of moral rules then seems to be impossible and without universal moral rules it is difficult if not impossible to judge the practices of another culture. These practices may seem morally wrong from the viewpoint of the culture of the West for example, but the rules of the West, i.e. human rights, only apply within the morality of the West. Other cultures have their own rules and can only be judged by their own rules. One cannot apply the rules of American football to European soccer or vice versa.
As is often the case, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Whereas some moral rules are obviously very specific to particular cultures, other rules are globally accepted (which doesn’t mean respected). It follows that both extremes, imperialism and isolationism, are wrong. Human rights promoters should not go about and destroy cultural diversity, but cultural diversity is not the ultimate goal either. Cultures should not be isolated from human rights criticism. Individual rights matter just as much, if not more, than the rights of cultures. After all, if culture is important, it’s because it’s important for individuals.
The Cognitive Evolution Laboratory of Harvard University has started a project aimed at showing that morality is in essence universal. It has created a moral sense test which everyone can fill in (it’s available here, and takes less than 10 minutes to fill in; you’ll help these people by doing it).
I’ve written about the population problem before on this blog (see here). It’s quite common to hear the claim that many human rights violations, such as wars, genocides, famines, poverty and unemployment, are caused by the fact that there are too many people in the world.
This simplistic explanation of the world’s problems is popular since at least the 18th century when Thomas Malthus published his works.
According to Malthus, food and other resources are limited, and a population growth that exceeds a certain pace will inevitably hit a resource ceiling, and will result in decreasing standards of living, poverty, conflict over scarce resources, famine etc. (This is called a Malthusian catastrophe). Ultimately, population growth will halt because if this, and population levels will return to the “normal” equilibrium possible within the limits offered by nature (the so-called “carrying capacity”).
And if these disasters aren’t enough, active population control is necessary, including measures such as the abolition of social security (social security doesn’t incite people to birth control, see here) and even more extreme policies (many of which proposed by Malthus’ more enthusiastic followers rather than by himself).
Malthus agreed that humanity was capable of increasing its productivity, but believed that population growth would necessarily outpace this increase. The facts are, however, different. Standards of living have risen enormously over the last centuries, notwithstanding large increases in population numbers. GDP growth has even been faster than population growth, giving, on average, every human being more resources than ever before in history. Of course, these resources aren’t equally distributed, but that’s a problem of justice, not of population.
Blaming everything on overpopulation is simplistic. All major problems in life are multi-causal, and population isn’t a real or major cause in many cases (bad governance is often a more important cause). And when it is, population control isn’t the answer. Technology, productivity, consumer adaptation, better governance etc. are more promising solutions.
And three more cartoons (it’s incredible how popular this topic is):
Corruption can take on many forms:
However, it always means the use of governmental powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain.
Corruption in itself is not a human rights violation, and there is no right to live in a country that is not corrupt or that suffers no corruption. However, corruption does have consequences for human rights:
Corruption is anti-democratic :
Corruption is economically unsound and unfair :
The graph below shows the correlation between low levels of GDP and high levels of corruption (Corruption Perception Index, or CPI, of Transparency International):
Here’s another study pointing to the same conclusions:
In 2004, the global cost of corruption was estimated at $1 trillion a year.
There is corruption everywhere in the world, but some countries perform better than others. This is the country ranking of the CPI (Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International) in 2007:
The CPI measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. High numbers indicate relatively less corruption, whereas lower numbers indicate relatively more corruption.
Slavery was officially abolished worldwide at the 1927 Slavery Convention. Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”.
Slavery is illegal everywhere and yet it still exists everywhere. Experts estimate that today there are 27 million people enslaved around the world (source). Outright “plantation slavery” doesn’t exist anymore. Slavery today is hidden and has taken on many different and subtler forms like sex trafficking, bonded labor or debt bondage, forced domestic labor, forced agricultural labor etc. It takes place outside of the public’s view, in brothels, homes, fields, restaurants… There is still a strong racist element in modern slavery, but it’s not exclusively racist. Sex slavery for example is not. Domestic slavery also is not necessarily racist.
1. Bonded labor or debt bondage
Poverty … forces many parents to offer themselves or their own children as collateral against a loan. Though they are promised they will work only until their debt is paid off, the reality is much grimmer. Thanks to inflated interest rates and fresh debts incurred while being fed and housed, the debt becomes impossible to pay off. As a result, it is often inherited by the bonded laborer’s children, perpetuating a vicious cycle that can claim several generations. (source)
2. Sex slavery
Women and girls are promised jobs and income abroad but on arrival their passports are taken away and they are forced to work in the sex industry in order to pay off the debt they owe the “transporters”. Outright kidnapping also occurs. Not all human trafficking is linked to or ends up in slavery, but some does.
Sex slavery is not necessarily an international problem or a problem linked to migration. Fathers, husbands or brothers can also force the women in the family to prostitute themselves locally, sometimes as a means to service debt. Girls are often even sold by their families.
3. Forced labor
This is also linked to human trafficking. People pay “transporters” to take them to another country where they hope to find a job and a better life. Instead, they are forced to work in order to pay their debt. Needless to say that they often work in harsh and hazardous conditions. Organized crime plays an important role in this an in other types of modern slavery.
Another type of forced labor are the labor camps for “criminals” that exist in some countries, such as China (where they are called Loagai).
4. Child labor
Here’s a separate post on child labor. Child labor is forced labor and hence slavery because children do not choose to work but are forced to because of the poverty of their parents.
5. Domestic slavery
This often occurs in rich countries, and especially in the upper classes of rich countries. Diplomats also sometimes harbor unpaid domestic workers because they find it relatively easy to by-pass immigration checks.
“Slave redemption” is an effort to buy the freedom of slaves. But it’s controversial.
When you have people running around buying up slaves, you help create a market demand for more slaves… It’s like paying the burglar for the television set he just stole. … The slave traders end up with more money, buying more guns and hiring more thugs to go out and take more slaves. (source).
Moreover, you end up with people picking up other people who are not slaves and presenting them as slaves in order to receive some money for their “freedom”.
Waterboarding is an old torture technique from the Spanish Inquisition. It consists of immobilizing the “target” on an inclined board, head down, with cloth covering his or her face. Pouring water over the face simulates drowning. The victim inhales water, and is convinced that he or she is drowning and about to die. As the target is convinced of imminent death, waterboarding amounts to a mock execution. The practice leaves no physical marks, although it can lead to brain damage if the breathing process is stopped for certain length of time. And there is inevitably psychological damage.
Waterboarding is illegal under the Geneva Conventions and hence it’s a war crime.
Waterboarding should be distinguished from other, similar torture techniques that are shown in the following two pictures, one of torture in Cambodia, and the other of a case in a NY prison:
Like most forms of torture, waterboarding is utterly useless.
“For example, when used against alleged al-Qaida mastermind Abu Zubaydah, waterboarding apparently produced a stream of statements from Zubaydah of such dubious quality – according to journalist Ron Suskind – that intelligence officers now widely believe any evidence gleaned from Zubaydah to be utter garbage”. Phillip Carter and Dahlia Lithwick
And even if torture such as waterboarding were a good system to produce intelligence, it’s difficult to determine whether we know enough about a “target” to decide that he or she knows something worth torturing for. Furthermore, in subsequent judicial trials, the testimony is worthless because produced under torture. A guilty man may then walk free because we tortured him. Worse yet, there is the image problem which a regime that tortures creates for itself. It becomes very difficult to claim the moral high ground against ruthless terrorists, for example. Or to protest against similar treatment for your own soldiers captured by the enemy. The enemy is emboldened by our practices, first because of revenge for what we do to them, and second because the immorality of something is diluted when the “leader of the free world” engages in it.
There is also the slippery slope theory:
“[T]here are few slopes more slippery than that from small war crimes to large ones. Any wartime action, no matter how heinous, can always be justified by some battlefield exigency.” Phillip Carter
And finally, there is the psychological damage for the torturer, and the moral damage for the society that practices torture.
Some people urge us to accept and respect other cultures, other practices and beliefs unconditionally and without exceptions. Every cultural practice, whatever its content, is valuable and should be protected, even if this means giving up certain or all human rights. This means that rejecting intolerance in a certain culture is intolerant and rejecting discrimination is discrimination. Diversity should be tolerated, even if elements of this diversity are expressions of intolerance or discrimination. Otherwise, we would show a lack of respect for cultural identities and we would de facto return to the days of colonization and imperialism.
Respect is important, and human rights are created precisely as tools to make different people with different beliefs and practices or habits live together peacefully. But they are not designed to protect practices which violate them. We can never tolerate intolerance and that we must always discriminate discrimination. One cannot force an idea to be self-destructive. A tolerant system tolerating intolerance or failing to discriminate those who discriminate, will never last very long. Those who are tolerant must be intolerant of those who are intolerant (and the latter include those who attack the institutions protecting tolerance, such as human rights).
This has nothing to do with “an eye for an eye”. It is purely a matter of consistency and self-preservation. We must accept and respect diversity, but not in an unlimited way. Some things are just unacceptable. There is a Calvin and Hobbes comic-strip which neatly summarizes this point:
I’ve written about privacy before on this blog (here, here and here), with a particular attention to the importance of private property for privacy. The current post deals more generally with privacy.
There’s no light without darkness. By recognizing the right to keep certain thoughts, relationships and communications secret, one automatically recognizes the right to make other thoughts, relationships and communications public. The right to privacy is a negative version of the freedom of expression, but is, of course, also a value in itself. Privacy is not only important because it protects publicity. It is also important in itself. Nobody can spend his or her entire life in public. People need to have privacy, a space of their own, protected against the intrusion of other people.
This private space has a literal and a figurative meaning.
Article 12 of the Universal Declaration gives people their privacy right:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Privacy in a way depends on development and technology, on good housing, mobility (distance) and a good income (related to smaller families and economic independence). But, on the other hand, technology makes it also easier for governments in particular to invade people’s privacy (CCTV, email monitoring, telephone taps etc.). In the current anti-terrorism panic, governments are more likely to invade privacy because they consider this to be a necessary price to pay for security.
I’ve stated before that sometimes one can indeed be forced to limit a right for the protection of another. But this motivation often gets derailed, either because the threat to another right is overestimated or exaggerated, or because governments find it a convenient excuse for the exercise of their power.
Here are some data on countries’ performance in the field of privacy protection for their citizens:
This post gives some more detail about one element of our system of “fair trial” which I discussed here.
It’s the very important principle of Habeas Corpus, litterally (from Latin) “(We command) that you have the body”. This is an important legal tool to defend oneself against arbitrary or unlawful arrest. Habeas Corpus is a legal action undertaken to seek relief from arbitrary or unlawful arrest, either by the person arrested him or herself, or by a representative. The court should then issue a writ (a writ is a formal written order issued by a court) ordering the custodian, i.e. the person or institution imprisoning a person, to bring this person to the court so that the court can determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to hold the person. If not, the person should be released from custody.
Any prisoner, in a well functioning judicial system, may petition the courts or individual judges for a writ of Habeas Corpus. (A petition is a request to an authority, more specifically in this case it is a legal pleading that initiates a case to be heard before a court. The purpose of a pleading is a correction or repair of some form of injustice, e.g. arbitrary arrest).
Habeas Corpus does not determine guilt or innocence, merely whether the person is legally imprisoned or not. It can also be a writ against a private individual detaining another, for example in slavery.
It has historically been and still remains today an important tool for safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action. Currently, the U.S. is trying to set very strict limits to the writ, limits previously unheard of in democratic societies. The current U.S. administration believes restrictions on Habeas Corpus are necessary in the war on terrorism.
Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. One can therefore claim that the writ is an important means to make this right real.
A few cartoons about overpopulation. I’ll try to show in this post how this is related to human rights.
Some blame overpopulation for many of the world’s problems such as poverty, famine and war (which are obviously rights violations). There are supposed to be too many people for peaceful coexistence and sustainable food production. The areas of the world which are inhabitable and useable for agriculture are too small compared to the number of people living in them. These people are followers of Thomas Malthus or of malthusianism, and often even predict major catastrophes which will reduce the population significantly. They also advocate some quite draconian measures for limiting the human population.
In scientific terms: overpopulation occurs when an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat; carrying capacity = [available sustainable resources > current and projected needs of the organism].
For example, imagine a population of 10 living in a habitat of 10 square kilometers. These 10 square kilometers can produce food, drinking water, shelter etc. for 15. Then there is no overpopulation. But if the population grows or is expected to grow at a rate of 10% annually, without an equal or superior growth in resources, then overpopulation threatens. There would also be overpopulation if the material resources are adequate but other needs such as space, privacy etc. are not met. For example if the available space is too small to guarantee peaceful co-existence.
So overpopulation can result from changes in the population (increased births, reduced deaths, better healthcare, migration etc.) or from changes in the resources – material or psychological – in the habitat (for example desertification, natural disasters, technological innovations etc.), or from a combination of both.
The current state of the world’s population is the following:
Blaming everything on overpopulation is misguided and reductionist. Problems such as poverty and war have a complex set of causes, including in some but not all cases overpopulation, government policies, cultural factors, repercussions from colonialism, religion etc.
One can also question whether there is indeed a problem of overpopulation. Per capita food production has risen the last 50 years, and poverty (expressed as the number of people living on less than 1$ a day) has decreased while the population has increased. So poverty and war may not have anything to do with the size of the world’s population. However, ecological problems may have something to do with it. If so, the solution would surely not be population control, which is much too difficult and often dictatorial. Changes in consumption patterns are a much more promising route.
One of the arguments against democracy and in favor of authoritarian forms of government turns to the economy. Economic development requires consistency, coherence, long term and central planning, all of which is said to be incompatible with democracy. The rotation in office typical of a democracy puts always other people in power, with other priorities and laws. Democratic governments, laws and policies change continuously. This goes against the interests of long term planning, as well as the interests of companies that need stability for their investments.
Furthermore, the constant pressure of public opinion and the next election, forces governments to sacrifice long term benefits for short term advantages that may even have negative consequences in the long term.
However, it is difficult to deny that the democratic procedures for changing governments create stability because they help to avoid revolt. Opposition movements do not have to resort to extreme measures to gain some influence. In addition, if the people decide to change something, this is because they believe that it ought to change, that it is not good as it is. Consistency is not the only value.
Three cartoons about child labor:
Child labor not only keeps children from attending school. It often harms them physically and mentally. It is therefore a double problem from the point of view of the human rights of children.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in article 26, includes the right to education and hence, implicitly (not explicitly), the prohibition of child labor since the two are incompatible. Article 10 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states, rather carefully in order not to frighten away developing countries who might otherwise not have accepted the treaty:
“Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation. Their employment in work harmful to their morals or health or dangerous to life or likely to hamper their normal development should be punishable by law. States should also set age limits below which the paid employment of child labour should be prohibited and punishable by law”.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides the strongest legal language prohibiting illegal child labor but does not make child labor illegal.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 246 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 currently work (or about 15% of the world’s children, about 35% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa).
They work in very different industries but mostly in commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, parents’ business and domestic service either at home or in other homes, in factories, sweatshops, fields, tourist attractions etc. Some children work in illicit activities like the drug trade and prostitution or as soldiers. Often their situation is aggravated by child slavery, child trafficking, debt bondage and forced labor.
In Western countries, child labor has gradually died out. It was common during the industrial revolution (and before) when children as young as four were employed in factories with dangerous working conditions, but labor laws, education laws and technological progress (and some say colonialism) have caused its disappearance.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the worldwide highest share of child labourers. In the 18 countries in this region with data on child labour, 38 percent of all children between 7 and 14 years of age are engaged in work that can be considered harmful to their development. Among these children, slightly more than half (20 percent of the total) also attend school while another 18 percent are only engaged in labour. Overall, 60 percent of all children between 7 and 14 years attend school. 21 percent of all children are neither in school nor do they engage in labour. These children may, however, perform work that is not considered labour, for example household work for less than 28 hours per week… [T]he share of child labourers among girls is the same as among boys, about 38 percent. On the other hand, the area of residence is strongly associated with child labour: rural children (43 percent) work much more than urban children (25 percent).”
It’s often the poverty of their parents that forces millions of young children out of school and into work. But companies obviously also have an interest in hiring children. Children earn less, are less vocal defenders of their rights, are more easily forced to accept certain “work procedures” etc. For some professions, the anatomy of children also gives them an advantage compared to adults (mining for instance). Many companies, including Western multinationals, often find the temptation too hard to resist, and the consumers engage in moral complicity when purchasing products assembled or manufactured in developing countries with child labor. Consumer boycotts of such products, however, without compensating measures such as the provision of education for the children in question or benefits to poor families, may simply result in an even worse situation when children are forced into other labor activities, often more hasardous or detrimental.
A child may sometimes consent to work if, for example, the salary is relatively attractive, but such consent may not be informed consent. Child labor may still be an undesirable situation for a child in the long run.
Child labor undermines the general economy because it lowers general labor standards and wages for all workers (adult workers often suffer from unfair competition since they normally would be paid more and are generally more vocal about their labor conditions). It may have a short-term beneficial effect on a country’s international competitiveness because it allows countries to produce at lower costs and with fewer regulations, but internally in the country it affects the general labor standards and work force.
More on children’s rights.
A characteristic element of modern democratic states is their ability to offer fair trials to those accused of crimes. We try to treat everyone, even suspected criminals, with fairness, and we have two principal reasons for this:
One important condition for a fair trial is publicity. Justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done, not only to deter other criminals and to give consolation to victims, but also because publicity makes it more likely that the real perpetrator is punished. Every trial is therefore a “show trial”. The publicity of a trial makes it possible to judge the judge and hence to correct mistakes if necessary.
The secret trial is typical of authoritarian regimes because it allows for abuses of power. It makes it easier to use the justice system for other purposes than the identification and punishment of proven criminals. It is very hard to use a public trial for power games or oppression.
On top of that, false accusations or false testimonies are more likely to remain undiscovered in a secret trial. After all, it is not only the state that can gain from a secret trial. Interested third parties can also benefit from an unfair trial.
However, publicity alone does not guarantee that trials and verdicts are fair and just (which is clear from the phenomenon of communist show trials). The following elements are just as important (as with publicity, most of them are included in the main human rights instruments, for example articles 9, 10, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights):
All these elements put together make the justice system just, and protect the citizens against the state or against fellow citizens that want to abuse the justice system. If one element is missing, then all the others may become useless.
Life expectancy, or the average length of life in a given population (mostly a country), is of importance to the issue of human rights. A low life expectancy means shorter life spans. Now, it’s not because a life is relatively short that is has to be less fulfilling, less happy or less meaningful. However, it is obvious that a longer life will allow for more activity, self-development and freedom, and hence for more enjoyment of human rights, than a shorter life.
Moreover, longer life expectancies are often an indicator of better health and healthcare, and good health is a prerequisite for human rights. Bad average health or healthcare and low life expectancy, on the contrary, are indicators of poverty, and poverty is in itself a violation of certain human rights and makes other human rights impossible.
Life expectancy in Western countries today is almost double what it was in the pre-modern era. This is the consequence of highly reduced infant mortality rates, modern medicine (e.g. before modern medicine, one in four women died in childbirth), improvements in sanitation (sewers) and nutrition, etc. Especially in the last century did we see enormous progress. In the US for example, life expectancy at the beginning of the 1900s was 50 years. At the end of the same century it was 77 (with differences of course between male and female and between social classes; poverty, in particular, has a substantial effect on life expectancy).
Of course, as in most cases, the developing countries haven’t achieved the same levels as the West. They have improved their numbers but there are still large and shocking inequalities in life expectancy, with Africa again bearing the heaviest burden. Sub-Saharan Africa (partly because of HIV) has even seen a decrease in life expectancy during the last decades. The former USSR also saw a decrease.
A person’s life in one of the poorest countries will on average be half as long as the life of a person fortunate enough to be born in a rich country.
(High infant mortality rates in a particular country (see this post), can bring down rates of life expectancy at birth drastically. In these cases, another measure such as life expectancy at age 5 can be used to exclude the effects of infant mortality to reveal the effects of causes of death other than early childhood causes. However, that’s somehow “cooking the books” since infant mortality does reduce the life expectancy of the infants in question. On the other extreme are some people who want to include aborted fetuses in life expectancy rates).
Why is China economically so successful? So successful indeed that all talk about human rights suddenly disappears when China signals to other states that criticizing its human rights record means losing interesting contracts. Well, the answer is complex and should take into account many factors such as Chinese labor ethics, business sense, culture, undervalued national currency, neo-colonial exploitation of Africa etc. One important factor which should not be overlooked is unfair competition. They have cheap products as a consequence of degrading labor conditions, violations of economic rights and forced labor by so-called “criminals”.
The Jim Crow laws, often referred to as merely Jim Crow, were state and local laws in force mainly in the Southern states of the United States between 1876 and 1965 (mostly voted by Democratic Party politicians). They enforced the segregation of blacks and whites in all public facilities (public schools, public places, public transportation, restrooms, restaurants etc.) and led to inferior treatment and accommodations for African-Americans, although in theory they were designed to make things “separate but equal” (separation being supposedly in the interests of African-Americans because integration would expose them to white racism and would create low self-esteem).
The laws were overruled by Brown v. Board of Education deicision of the SUpreme Court, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (pushed by Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democratic president), but the practices were brought to complete end only in the 1970s. De facto segregation, particularly in schools, continues until today, as do many other forms of discrimination.
In 1896, the US Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” facilities were constitutional. Thanks to the Court, African-Americans suffered half a century from legalized discrimination. Something to keep in mind when contemplating some of the current decision of the Court.
(The origins of the name are not clear. It may be based on a racist song).
Although not the direct result of the Laws, but perhaps of the culture created by the laws, lynching became “a social ritual” by the beginning of the 20th century.
Three very similar cartoons about bio-fuels and food prices:
Very funny, but it’s a bit simplistic to blame the food shortages around the world on the increase in food prices “fueled” by the use of raw food materials for petrol alternatives. First of all, the rising costs of food transportation due to rising energy costs also plays a part. Just as the increasing demand for food from emerging markets, and bad harvest in particular places at particular times.
But more importantly, many of the poorest countries in the world buy only a very small percentages of their food from the international markets and hence do not feel the immediate effects of the rising food prices. The bulk of their food comes from national markets, and often these markets are managed poorly, suffer from natural disasters and drought, and are obstructed by the policies of local dictatorships (e.g. Zimbabwe where many of the problems are the direct effect of the misguided policies of the government) or failed states.
Diversity and tolerance of diversity can be very beneficial because they make it possible for us to learn from others, to debate with others and take into account their objections and counter-arguments. Tolerance helps us to come closer to the truth. We can take advantage of diversity and of tolerance of diversity, because diversity means other opinions and criticism of our own opinions. The school of tolerance teaches people to reap the benefits from conflict and difference, and makes people suspicious of all efforts to eliminate conflict or to let it degenerate into violence. Tolerance is more than just a restraint on violence.
More on tolerance here.
The right to self-determination is the right of a state and a people to be sovereign in their territory and the right not to suffer foreign intervention, occupation or aggression. This right is necessary for democracy and human rights, because intervention, occupation and aggression often go hand in hand with violations of human rights and democratic principles. Occupation is incompatible with democracy because the government does not result from the will of the people. Conquest and consent cannot go together. A democracy can never conquer, because if it does, it ceases to be a democracy. If it conquers, it may of course, remain a democracy in its original territory and it may even contribute to the development of democratic institutions in the conquered territories, voluntarily (as with the occupation of Japan by the U.S.), or involuntarily (as with the American colonies of the U.K.).
The right to self-determination can contribute to the struggle for independence. National liberation and the elimination of alien subjugation are necessary conditions for the protection of democracy (or self-government) and often, also for the protection of human rights.
This would certainly be the case for Tibet. However, we also see the empire, in this case China, invoking self-determination and independence to counter criticism of its human rights record, in Tibet and in China as well. Self-determination is a two-edged sword which can be used for good and for bad purposes.
The idea of equal rights resulted from the emergence and the ascent of the bourgeoisie in 17th and 18th century Europe, and was in the first instance, a tool for the protection of their interests. The bourgeoisie was, compared to the aristocracy, a relatively open class. One could enter and leave this class in a relatively free and sudden way and the moment of entering or leaving was sometimes hard to predict. For this reason, it was undesirable to create a new set of privileges in the style of those of the older classes. If the bourgeoisie was to have rights to protect its interests, they had no choice but to instate rights for everybody.
Historically, the transformation of privileges (or freedoms and rights limited to certain groups, such as guilds, corporations, the nobility etc.) into general or human rights was the invention of the revolutions of the 18th century. From this moment on, human rights were considered to be rights of individuals as entities detached from concrete relationships and groups.
Of course, in the beginning this was to a large extent rhetoric. Women and the working class didn’t have the same rights as white affluent men. There was also slavery, colonialism etc. It took centuries of struggle to make people aware of the contradictions between human rights philosophy and social reality. We have made enormous progress (slavery is abolished in many countries, the civil rights movement in the US has ended many types of discrimination like the Jim Crow laws etc) but still the struggle isn’t finished.
I mentioned here that a democracy must regard all citizens as equally valuable human beings. But why are all people equally valuable? Or why do all people have an equal value?
This seems to be something we believe intuitively. It is an idea with a long history. Christianity, for example, is based on it (all people are children of God and created in His image). Everybody understands the importance of being recognised and treated as a human being with a certain value equal to that of all other human beings. No one wants to be treated as an inferior being, as an animal or a thing. If this belief in universal equivalence were absent, then it would be acceptable for one man to treat another as a means, an animal or a disposable thing. Man would be allowed to subjugate other men. The will of one would be a duty for another.