Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why should human rights remain concessions from democratic states?

Why should Human rights be concessions from governments?

In the remote past in human history, it was the tribal leaders, or a village head-priest who had the privilege of defining man’s rights and his identity. They claimed that they received knowledge and authority on such matters directly from  heaven! Later on when tribes had become states, such rights issues have become privileges of the state rulers.

How human rights had become state concessions?

History is the only authentic record of man’s past and past heritages. Every one agrees today that history is nothing but the record of the governments and their activities. Historians in the past , as a rule, were always  stooges of the ones in authority. If something was written against the ruler, his head would have rolled. Hence history was nothing but the view points of the one in authority.

Man never got a chance in history to express himself and say about his inner feelings. It was the rulers who decided what he should think, dream and say. The virtues and emotions expected from him were only songs of praise and devotion towards the King. Who would dare to bypass or defy  the wishes of the king on those days of absolute authority? Even if someone dared to do anything of this sort, both such voices and the voice maker would have got annihilated.

Besides history, most of  the literary work also were written in the praise of the King and Kingdom. Such works took all the pains to nullify the existence of the writer to the maximum to highlight the relevance of the King and his devotion towards him. The more one diminishes in his stature and relevance, the more was the degree of his devotion towards the King! “ My lord, everything belongs to you ., my existence, and my work . . .”

Such extreme form of submissiveness before the law and the law maker was there in the human mind as price-less values from time immemorial. Governments of all sorts had only encouraged these values amongst its people. Every ruler of the future started expecting such meekness and submissiveness as necessary values from its people as their right and privilege. These values of the people have become part of the mental language of every ruler of all the ages. These values have become an un-avoidable, ritualistic ‘jandharma’ ( duty of the citizen) of the people.

For the ruling class, most commonly for the kings, such boundless freedom of expression has become an integral part of their ego. Such a  state of mind has become the very meaning of existence for the ruler and in-separable aspect of their selfhood. Dissent of any sort has become anathema for them. Hence they initiated wars to bring into submission the neighbouring states and kings. Those who refused to submit before the authority has naturally been branded as enemies.

 Similarly those who talked of freedom and liberty also has become the natural enemies of the later stage tyrants like Stalin in Russia and Hitler in Germany. Stalin  had ordered to kill more than 14000 Polish citizens, most of them scientists and writers according to reports. By annihilating the ones writing and standing for freedom, he, thought, country administration would be smooth and trouble free as it was always during the time of Kings. 

During wars, the slogan was simple - -enemies of the King are enemies of the people and it was enough to push people into war.

In short, man has never got a chance in history to see him face to face as he is. What is his existential identity beyond Kings and rulers? Through out the ages he was merely a subject - -his existence always linked to Kings and rulers.  Every form of art and fiction has pictured him this way. He couldn’t even think of himself outside such an identity, as a free being with an independent entity. It required heroic efforts and gigantic creative talent to come out of such age old subjugation of mind. Any trace of such freedom arising in remote corners of the mind was always suppressed instantly by themselves out of fear for life. It is dangerous to keep such sin-full thoughts! Thus, his real face, his inner self was always remained in the hidden and shy depths of his mind. It has found no full expression till the very late centuries. Then what is to say about his human rights?

Let us try to understand the depth of this great calamity through the example of a domestic dog. Suppose the dog got a trace of his right to freedom one fine morning after years of his suffering and suppression from the master.  Perhaps its continued growls and cries of discontent may result in some concession from the master in the form of reduced hours in chain or reduced number of daily caning, and such small concessions. It would have made it satisfied also. The Dog is not at all familiar of a scenario with out its master, hence it simply concludes that all such concessions are ultimately obtainable from the master only.

This is the condition of man also in the political state. Like the sky above him, he was always under some one’s rule and subjugation through out history. Hence the political thinkers of the later ages could make their theories looking at such people, whose self-hood was lost or maimed under continued periods of non-freedom. They saw them as a tamed lot of animals, if freed to their own fate one fine morning, would end up in their native brutish, nasty and mean nature! They failed to even remotely imagine that what they saw in front of them as human nature was an acquired nature of human beings due to ages and ages of non-freedom and subjugation!!! They designed their safety nets like political theories for such people and submitted before their rulers of the time. Unfortunately, people of the world are still in such  cages like political structures designed by the 16th and 17th century thinkers like Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli. Their primary concern was ‘social order’ for which man’s liberty was the first casualty. 

Difference between how man sees him self, and how state views him from outside :

This fundamental contrast between how man see him self subjectively and how science and state views him objectively from outside is in existence since man  developed his organized thoughts. When man’s Reason and thought gets free, his natural creativity comes into surface to guide his behaviour. Creativity was always a fruit of freedom of mind. Reason works only when the mind is free. The best example is the sudden spurt of science the moment church’s authority over the mind of people has decreased in Europe. This spurt has resulted in a flood of scientific discoveries in the world. But it was short lived - - -powerful states have replaced the fallen church to leash the minds. Russel once wrote that the actual conflict between the church and the states was for the social control of men.  This twist was the main cause for the degeneration of science into a technological endeavour, forgetting its foundational ‘spirit of enquiry and reason’. Even today science could not regain its inception stage status and symbol of being a spirit of enquiry and Reason because state never wanted it to be so. States have degenerated it as a mere tool for exploring the physical world and its various secret forces and energies. As mere spirit of enquiry and reason, science was not of any use to the state, but often dangerous as it involves man’s getting freedom of mind.

Man was first a believer of what the head priest and the oracles declared as truth. Later  he became a subject under Kings. Now he is a citizen in the modern states. All these statuses were bestowed upon him by the ones  in authority from age to age. His rights and freedom were always something the other party has to provide to him in controlled measures!  The thrones are still in place by  rocking him  to sleep with bed-time stories of ‘equality’ and full rights.

Man is an object for the state like the objects of  science. He is an external reality. His art, poems and literary works are work of fiction. Social sciences like economics, psychology and sociology are all based on the facts that man is an external, objective reality. Even he him self now consider him as a mere object in the big, impersonal world, his internal substance completely lost. He carries such a self identity in his blood today and carry forward to his offspring.

The difference between these two views are beyond any measure. The question is whether to see man as he see himself or to continue seeing him as subject for the state, at least by the modern democratic governments which is meant to be by him, of him and for him?

Human rights had got defined and explained not based on man’s naturally free state under the sky, but it was defined and explained upon prejudiced political assumptions  about his social nature. He was seen and understood at the middle of the story somewhere in history. The only brief exception was the great efforts of the founders of American Democracy who centered all their theories around the in-alienable rights of man for his dignified self. But it was short lived. Later stage developments disfigured and deformed democracy and kept it merely symbolic of its great ideals.

The old spirit of the ruler and the ruled has once again gained ideological supremacy in the world. Democracies are increasingly turning to state centric power centers, in unpardonable self deception with its great ideals.

Now it is too difficult to un-tie the old difficult knots and see man in an un-prejudiced natural state and re-invent democracy to suit for the new man. This difficulty is what should also be known as the wall of fundamentalism of the modern society.

Let states be seats of ReasonInstead of power and authority, democratic states should have ascended the throne as seats of Reason. At least now this changed perception should  replace the old conceptions. Even today as it was in the past, in every man’s heart and imagination, state is, and should be, the ultimate manifestation of  Reason and Justice. But he fails to realize that such imagination is nothing but the utmost reflection of his own underlain goodness!  Such virtuous images can not land in his heart from somewhere outside.

Authority and Reason are two opposite poles and it can not stay together. Hence reason’s failure to reign over the world so far which was deeply entangled in authority of many sort. But there is no dearth of evidences in various researches in the world that proves that when some one is totally free, nothing takes birth in him except kindness, love and creativity, or a healthy curiosity to know the other, but never animosity or hatred for the other. But when I am forced to believe that I am not what think and feel, but something else that the states and the ruler declares, all the goodness in me run for cover. I become that something else, nasty, brutish and mean. Revenge, hatred and violence buds in me without my knowledge!

 Till this day light truth is realized by the states and enlightened men behind it, and convert seats of power and authority into seats of REASON, a betterment of the world is extremely difficult. Power and authority are old world symbols and remnant of fundamentalism, and NOT sacred ideals that deserves worship and reverence. All our enlightened minds and organizations in modern democratic countries should divert their wholehearted  attention towards this central themes.

Authored by: Abraham J.Palakudy, an ardent seeker,researcher, and writer in subjects like mind and Reason, Justice and Fraternity,spirituality,general philosophy and polity

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(Above article was penned in November 1992,and later it was published in the regional language press called ‘NEW DELHI TODAY’)  


  1. I do not see anything about economics, the weakness in democracy is that though a state may enact a law it still has to fund the law and this under the present idea of democracy cannot be done in a democratic way. The real issue is how we allocate resources and for this we need a federalist structure

  2. More than the technicalities of democratic-structure,what she desperately needed in certain VALUE additions; at present there is nothing but the 'representative'paradigm of people ! Please share our mode dedicated blogs on democratic reforms at links:,