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Rules of Engagement

January 19, 2010

As my previous post on the Google-China issue might have hinted at, I am definitely NOT a fan of the arm-twisting tactics the Chinese engage to gain capitalistic success while denying its citizens the basic elements of a democracy. That said, something about the juxtaposition of the old world/new world paradigms in this HBR article by Haque kindled some annoyance within me, not necessarily on behalf of China, but on behalf of all developing nations.

I do not wish to cast aspersions on Haque’s intentions but this cynical voice within refuses to stop asking this uncomfortable question – right, so when the white Western world wanted to make its riches and various western European nations wished to reach their respective ‘developed world’ status, they were allowed to indulge in slavery, hegemony, colonialism, racism and so many unforgivable crimes of humanity, but that’s OK? And while we all know that freedom of speech and thought is fundamental to the very idea of freedom, most of us would also concede that restricting someone’s freedom of speech is not as inhumane as, say, shipping human beings from a continent to do manual labour and using them as resources towards building empires.

I do not mean to say that two wrongs make a right, or that developing nations should be allowed to run amok with human rights to accommodate for the several crimes done to them in a different era – nothing can ever compensate for the past mistakes. Several modern business practices in India & China, especially child labour and sweatshops, are deeply reminiscent of the crimes committed by the Imperialists and colonialists and should be censured accordingly. But to say, that, oh, the rules of the game have changed now that the Western world is comfortably rich – that is a bit preposterous, nay? Isn’t this moral righteousness just a tad bit grating on the nerves? Perhaps, it is just me, but I refuse to think of the Western bloc as blameless as they claim to be, when they point fingers at China.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 11:19 pm

    that’s the entire gamut of world affaris, in 3 shirt paragraphs 🙂
    then again,
    today, all nations sit down and discuss, so as to take steps that’ll help keep up a livable situation in the future – i.e., today, all these countries hold these farcical summits, because they believe that they are in a position where their decisions and actions will help mould future circumstances.
    however, seeing as how things are going (what with the deadlocks and lack of budging by either bloc of nations), soon, a point will be reached, when the circumstances themselves will force them to take snap-decisions. sadly, we may now look to pray for things to turn bad, and very bad, so that all these nations are forced to do things. and do them well.
    as they say, when you won’t move your life, it’ll move you.

    • January 20, 2010 3:00 pm

      I appreciate that nations sit down and attempt to achieve a consensus towards a better world, but there seems to be some resistance to an even playing field. Something about the state of affairs smacks of a desperate need in the Western nations to prove their superiority of ye olde times. That nobody is blameless is a point easily forgotten!

  2. Homam Al-Bahrani permalink
    January 20, 2010 7:32 am

    Good point. There’s so much hypocracy in “developed” nations attitudes towards developing countries

    • January 20, 2010 3:02 pm

      The burden of history weighs heavily for many ‘developed’ nations and that they gloss over it often can be a bit bristling, to say the least.

  3. February 3, 2010 12:20 am

    There is definitely a patronizing tone in most western coverage of China. Of course, when colonialism, slavery and all the vices were in full sway, supported duly by churches and the powers that be, there were still stong dissenting voices in the west, aka william wilberforce. So there is indeed a case for space for dissent in China or Iran at this point. All the same, the monotone recent coverage of incidents in Iran and China is almost hilariously propaganda stuff on behalf of “liberal” medea.

    • February 3, 2010 9:34 am

      Agreed, it is the monotonous view across the entire gamut of online/liberal media which is grating on the nerves. Nobody is willing to admit that there is no clear case of black & white, and that many countries which gleefully point fingers at China are themselves guilty of violating several human rights even to the present day.

  4. Haritha permalink
    April 9, 2010 6:30 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

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