Thursday Morning Philosophy

Thoughts this morning, as the first sips of caffeine dillute quickly into my blood stream, the hazy sunrise behind the hills washed away by the increasingly bright, yellow sun.

An interesting discussion this morning on the local television news broadcast here in Yunnan, China, about the relationship between China and Russia, on the eve of former Russian President Yeltsin’s death. The Experts talked about how the tension between the two monster nations, sharing perhaps the longest land border in the world, have eased thanks to the philosophy that mutual beneficial relations can be best achieved by each country pursuing its own self interest. According to them, peaceful relations along this long border will work to the advantage of both, so it is in the interest of Russia and China to work towards friendly ties and increasing cooperation.

Always skeptical of what the talking heads on the good old state sponsored television are preaching, I can’t help but agreeing with a certain amount of logic in the political philosophy. It is, indeed, a train of thought that has always influenced my perception of the world. I believe that as long as there is inequality, massive disparities, exploitation between people all over the world, we will have a global situation that does not work towards the self interest of anyone. This has led to my belief in the efficacy of international institutions and law, for if we all have an equal playing field, all of humanity can benefit. What happens in one place truly is the concern of the people of another place.

However, my belief in the importance of international institutions often seems to run head on with the real-politic that seems to be more prominent in the relations between countries, the actual power relations that drives people to pursue their own self interests at the expense of others.

I believe that human rights and social justice are crucial, and must be experienced by all. Groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are real and serve a real purpuse. However, the reality I have come to accept is that power is power, and power is the ability to manipulate a situation to achieve a desired result. In a world where the power, whether manifested in money or the ability to use violence, lies with those that too often pursue their own interests without the consideration of a global common good, how can those pursuing truly mutual beneficial relations manipulate global situations?

One Reply to “Thursday Morning Philosophy”

  1. There have been times when I have argued such things in the same way and perhaps that is what irks me about the post. You are at times naive while still being impossible to disagree with. Equality is an absolute; you’re either equal or you’re not. Perfect equality, like perfect justice would be a terrible thing to behold. Even a conditional equality such as equality of opportunity, which is a laudable goal cannot be applied on a worldwide scale.

    Mind you I agree with your points on Human Rights and the efficacy of international law, but disparity exists as a natural consequence of human coexistence. It is easy to exercise equality in small groups, not so much with a country of 300 million or a world with 6 billion.

    Nations, as people, act in thier own self interest as they should. Leaders are elected (hopefully) to act upon the needs and desires of thier own citizenry, to adress education and health care etc. among its own people before adressing them elsewhere. It is sometimes difficult to do that if an international organization can trump your national policy.

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