Friday, June 18, 2004

The Legitimacy of Government

  Following what appears below, we are left with the question "What makes a government legitimate?"

  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights attempts to solve this answer by creating a list of fifty items that all governments must follow.  This list is quite flawed, and includes many ideas which no government can support.  Was it designed with a one world government in mind?  Perhaps, but they still spent a long time crafting these rules, and their rules can be looked at for inspiration on these matters.  As an exercise, you can try to prioritize all fifty for yourself.

  I argue that there is one item, that does not appear in the Universal Declaration, that comes, for me, before any of the others, and it speaks directly to the issue of governmental legitimacy.

  If your government does not even bother to publish its laws in your language, can it expect you to follow them?

  If the judges, lawyers and jury, in your trial, do not speak your language, do you think you should expect justice?

  If the ultimate authority of your nation, for example, JP Bremer in al-Iraq, does not speak your language, do you expect them to hear you?

  There are, sadly, roughly 7,000 languages on Earth.  European imperial/colonial expansion has resulted in a system where only a dozen or so languages are, currently, particularly useful.  Science, which I believe is crucial now, is mostly done in my language, English.  Carving up nations based on linguistic (NOT ethnic, NOT "racial") groups is not going to create world peace.  But, it is important to note that the borders which carve up Africa, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, India, China, and Oceania, are all borders imposed by the ruling powers with NO consideration of local interests.  By comparison, when Europe redivided itself (Treaty of Westphalia (1648), Congress of Vienna (1815)) it was a SLAVE to the linguistic groups.

If it is good enough for "us," dammit, it is good enough for "them."

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