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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Appeal to collective rights over individual rights

Neoliberal Civilization and the Economic Disciplining of Human Rights: Convergent Models in the United States and China Tina Chen and David Churchill rhizomes.10 spring 2005
[16] From one perspective, it is possible to apply an instrumentalist interpretation to China’s embrace of neoliberalism in the realms of the economy and international relations. Neoliberalism can and has been used to assert the primacy of Chinese state sovereignty that has informed old-fashioned power politics, while also explicitly linking national strength to the post-1978 emphasis on the primacy of capital and an acknowledged secondary concern with human rights and social equality. The “Asian Values” position taken by ASEAN in 1997 can be understood in this framework. Those advocating “Asian values” attacked George Soros and human rights as an instrument to extend Western hegemony over Asia. As summarized by William Korey (1998:474), the “Asian concept of human rights” asserted that “first, cultural or religious traditions justify the abrogation of certain rights that Westerners consider universal; second, … as a nation’s economy grows one can expect greater adherence to some of the rights of its people.” Even as the position taken by ASEAN in 1997 challenged “Western” human rights, Chinese neoliberal intellectuals and their counterparts in the state apparatus have participated in the articulation of new global rights norms that converge with American neoliberalism. That is, bilateral and multilateral negotiations over human rights issues take place within an international consensus around neoliberalism. Emerging rights norms thus attend to corporate, private, and elite rights in an individualized sense and draw upon assumptions that these rights are the basis of democratic reform. But, as we argue below, articulating rights in these terms supports anti-democratic political-social orders rather than a broad human rights regime...
[30] On one hand, the appeal to collective rights over individual rights, that informs “Asian values” formuations of rights, is antithetical to the positioning of the individual at the center of the liberal polity. But on the other hand, the deferred and secondary status accorded to political and civil rights in this formulation echoes both neoliberal assumptions regarding open markets as well as the rationale given for the suspension of civil rights in the war on terrorism. First, the teleological conceptualization of progress that links economic rights to the slogan “to get rich is glorious” resonates with neoliberal assumptions that economic development will bring social equality. (24) This line of reasoning requires that the inequalities that propel capitalist development be overlooked on the fallacy that all will eventually prosper in this system (Chan 1998). This is the promise that the Chinese state makes to its citizens in exchange for political loyalty, a promise many are willing to embrace. It is also the promise offered by the US government and its think tanks. Catharine Dalpino (1999:2), visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and former US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, wrote in 1999 of “unprecedented personal freedom” for ordinary Chinese citizens. She attributed this freedom to “the effects of the economic reforms introduced in China in 1979, and more recently to rapid economic growth.” But for the hundreds of million of unemployed, the tens of millions of rural dwellers living in poverty, the workers denied unionization, and the large numbers of laid-off workers in the agricultural sector since WTO entry, such claims made about the end of class struggle, international capitalism as a social equalizer, and unprecedented personal freedom seem far removed from their experience of this system. (25) ...
[38]...Since the Chinese state understands multilateralism as critical to its sovereignty and economic strength, it opposes policies that endanger this stance and is willing to invoke rights discourse for moral legitimacy.
[39] But we should not be deceived that the confrontation between China and the United States over the War on Iraq is one based on principles of human rights or the primacy of international law and governing organizations. As the Chinese press gives major coverage to anti-war protests, anti-Americanism in China is characterized by the simultaneous embrace of consumer culture and capitalist competition and vitriolic rejection of American wealth and arrogance. While much of the rhetoric calls to mind Cold War opposition and mutual demonization, at this historical moment it is China and the United States’ shared commitment to neoliberalism and the stability and resources it requires which brings about mutual suspicion. In China, this belief is particularly strong among youth under 30 who believe that the United States is “a wealthy bully that will try to beat back China or any country (like Iraq) that dares challenge it” (Zha 2003). posted by Rich on Mon 20 Aug 2007 09:37 PM PDT Permanent Link

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