How do violations of a human's right to life affect national consciousness in a democractic government?How do violations of a human's right to life affect national consciousness in a democractic...

How do violations of a human's right to life affect national consciousness in a democractic government?

How do violations of a human's right to life affect national consciousness in a democractic government?

Asked on by ozicive

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is an opportune question. When I first heard that President Bush decided we didn't need to observe the Geneva Convention, I was utterly shocked. I felt physically ill. I am a teacher, and I have taugh about prisoners of war too often. It just got worse when the government began justifying torture and splitting legal hairs. It's morally repulsive.
ophelious's profile pic

ophelious | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

The first answer argues that violations of rights increase national consciousness.  I disagree.  Fanon's argument implies that such violations would decrease national consciousness.

A major problem for creating national consciousness is that people tend to think selfishly.  They tend to atomize their society into groups like races and tribes and classes.  This process is exacerbated by violations of human rights.

For example, if you have a country whose government is run by one tribe and that government violates the human rights of people from another tribe, what will happen?  Do you get more national consciousness?  No.  Instead, the tribe whose rights have been violated begins to perceive their nation as one in which a struggle of tribe against tribe is happening.  They will then come to identify more with their tribe against others.  They will not come to identify more strongly with their nation.

So, violations of the right to life tend to decrease national consciousness because the people whose rights have been violated come to trust only their own "kind" of people as opposed to those in the government.

That's an interesting idea...I never thought of it that way. I suppose it depends on what one would consider "national consciousness."   If the definition is about creating a unified sense of nationalism that could be considered a type of "collective consciousness" than I would have to agree with you.  Rights violations would be more likely to separate people.

I suppose I was considering it to mean something more akin to "national awareness and likelihood for protest."  In retrospect, I think I like your angle better.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The first answer argues that violations of rights increase national consciousness.  I disagree.  Fanon's argument implies that such violations would decrease national consciousness.

A major problem for creating national consciousness is that people tend to think selfishly.  They tend to atomize their society into groups like races and tribes and classes.  This process is exacerbated by violations of human rights.

For example, if you have a country whose government is run by one tribe and that government violates the human rights of people from another tribe, what will happen?  Do you get more national consciousness?  No.  Instead, the tribe whose rights have been violated begins to perceive their nation as one in which a struggle of tribe against tribe is happening.  They will then come to identify more with their tribe against others.  They will not come to identify more strongly with their nation.

So, violations of the right to life tend to decrease national consciousness because the people whose rights have been violated come to trust only their own "kind" of people as opposed to those in the government.

ophelious's profile pic

ophelious | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Wow.  What a question. I don't think there is a definitive answer to it, though.  It's a little hard to know exactly what you are asking.  Do you want to know what effect rights violations have on national consciousness in a democracy?  The part about "right to life" is throwing me off.  Are your referring to when people are killed?

Any violation of human rights, occurring in a democracy, increases the consciousness of the population.  In general, modern democracies are universally based; they give voting rights to everyone, not just the rich or landed.  Therefore, everyone feels that they have certain "rights" under the law.  That hasn't always been the case, but it generally is true today.

When the government violates those rights people become upset (rightfully so.)  In today's world, where everyone is only separated by a Youtube click, true rights violations spark outrage.  If one person's rights can be violated, the argument would go, anyones can.  In a democracy people are more AWARE of their rights because they have a say in making them.  We are therefore more AWARE when they are being trampled (in regard to ourselves or to others.)  In a dictatorship people have few real rights, and therefore their violation by the government doesn't spark the kind of indignation it does here.

Rights violations by the government lead to a distrust of the system.  Democracy works best when people have faith in the government and that their choices make a difference.  When the government violates human rights, citizens feel that their voice is not being heard and that the government has lost touch with the populace.

These are more historical arguments, though.  In today's world, as I said earlier, people are so cynical and information-laden that it is hard to hide or contain these types of activities by a government.  A secretive democracy, such as what we had during the cold war, led to a cynical population and we now suspect the government of all sorts of crooked things.  One bit of human rights poisoning as part of government policy pollutes the whole well.

I hope this helps.  I am still not sure what you mean by "right to life" and whether it is more of an abortion or capital punishment question you have, but perhaps my answer will get you thinking along the right lines.

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