2023 China – Europe Seminar on Human Rights
Modernization and the Diversity of Human Rights Civilizations
Rome, September 20th 2023
At the conference dedicated to the Comparison of Human Rights Values between the East and the West, held in Vienna (Austria) on 20 – 22 June 2019 I delivered a paper titled - A contextual view at human rights. In it I confirmed that there is no doubt, that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), drafted in 1950 and entered into force on 3 September 1953 is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe, but at the same time I said, that the ECHR is outdated, and today, when considering the current transformation processes related to basic values of the variety of civilizations, the ECHR is even dead.
Given issues, like the absence of trust in geopolitics and international relations, ruthless competition between states and civilizations and the abuse of power to name a few and which surround the topic, this paper will argue that the key characteristics of HR stand for a fundamental human right whose protection cannot be absolute. Further, that current processes and events in the world could have been avoided, if the human being would learn from the history, and that one of the realistic solutions stands for a radical transformation of each individual which can become the beginning of a peaceful life for all people living on this Planet.
Do not be angry that a rose has a thorny bush but rejoice that a thorny bush has roses.
Why the protection of HR cannot be absolute. Following are 4 main reasons: 1) The historical background. 2) The language aspect and the fact of formulation in broad terms. 3) The fact of non-resolvable contradictions. 4) The non-scientific origins of HR concepts.
The judgments of ECHR as living instrument not formally bound by precedents, the position, trying to establish a legal certainty and foreseeability of rulings by not changing its jurisdiction without compelling reasons, the number of reasons of conflict with rights entrenched in other provisions of the Convention and last but not least the ECHR autonomous interpretation allowing a protection much wider in scope than the protection offered under national law lead practically to limitations of national sovereignty. There is a question to be asked: Cui buono?
Considering the fact, that current geopolitical and geoeconomical environment is characterized by the absence of trust, dialog, absence of commonly accepted values and national interests and at the same time the concept of HR lacks scientific base – as the HR concept belongs to the category of pathological science as defined by Nobel Price laureate (1932) Irving Langmuir (1881-1957), any comparison of HR between the East and the West can only have a limited and theoretical value only. The question to be asked also here: Cui buono?
In general, we can name the description of the state of ECHR a play with words. On the Chinese internet we can find - meizhong buzu. It means in my own interpretation something like – in the beauty there is a deficit. Deficit in understanding the fundamentals in relations between the East and the West seems to grow by day. Even before the entry of PRC into the WTO in 2001 the discussions about preferences were governed by HR on behalf of USA.
In best case a comparison of HR in countries of the world could be made in the future, should a science dealing with the conduct of peace – The paxology would be established and a modified System of intensive development of individual abilities (SID (I) A) included into educational programs of national, regional and other elites in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
If you want to be happy one day, get drunk. If you want to be happy for one year, get married. If you want to be happy all your life, establish (start) a garden
Own gradual knowledge of the world and of myself led me to realize that the world has been in crisis. This realization depends on my thinking. Over time I came to the conclusion that the world was not only in crisis, but that it was in a state of death. Why? As an engineer, aesthete, critical thinker, analyst and opponent of Western economic and financial system based on expansion, debts and hypocrisy, temporary also a diplomat, I learned the history of the 19th century, of the deep crisis that befell European civilization and of the warnings that this rot could spread from Europe not only to the Russian or Chinese organism. The inevitable rise of China, the role of globalization, and blurring the individual traits of each personality, this and much more indicated that a time of disintegration of the traditional way of life is on the horizon.
This begs the question: What are the causes of the decline of the Western world, and civilization? Why did not only I see the phenomenon, that the salvation of any civilization has its roots in strong power and strength? What determined my personal early worldview? Was it the fascination with medical science - the medical empiricism - the formation of a special type of thinking about the world from the natural scientific point of view or the professional experience gained during my five-year intermezzo at the EC, as the head of the EU-TACIS coordination office, the appointment as a personal advisor to two prime ministers? For good reasons I would refrain from giving personal answers and would prefer look into the history.
I would recall a history of confrontation of Konstantin Nikolayevich Leontiev (1831-1891). Leontiev was a conservative tsarist and imperial monarchist, Russian philosopher who advocated closer cultural ties between Russia and the East against what he believed to be the West's catastrophic egalitarian, utilitarian and revolutionary influences. After he passed the exams in the Asian department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Empire was appointed to an auxiliary post in the consulate in Adrianople (now Edirne in Turkey), later as the secretary to the consulates in Crete, Constantinople and Thessaloniki. His attitude to work was matter-of-fact, sharp and professional. By his confrontation with the French consul, who in his presence dared to speak unfavourably about Russia, Leontiev, without engaging in an argument, simply struck the consul in the face with a whip. Such an undiplomatic gesture certainly could not be approved by his superiors and the Tsar, however, Leontiev was not punished and was simply transferred to another official post. He himself evaluated his act as a way of defending the homeland. The question – Cui buono was answered and it was proved that physical punishment could occasionally be more ecological, effective and economical than endless and repeated diplomatic protests and notes.
The Treasury like a cash cow is not milked by a lazy man only
Some stories of corruption in the EC I witnessed and which I tried as a professional to keep at a level allowing control and management (of it) confirm that this phenomenon cannot be eradicated. Why? It has its own life in the limelight and in the shadows and is dangerous for critics of corruption. There should not be doubts that corruption is directly linked to human rights, the human weak character and the pathology not only of the Western civilization. The corruption I described in one of my papers - Why the fight against corruption cannot be successful - was included into my book of Consent Not Needed (2016). The pathological phenomena related to the Euro-Atlantic Civilization include egalitarianism, emancipation of all people, lack of vision, which all is called a democracy, but with castrated significance. Who can answer the question: Cui buono?
Slavism is, Slavism is not
This is a famous Leontiev´s sentence. In essence, it is a very actual topic today: The absence of a unified Slavic ideology. And also questions: What is Slavophilism? Could this not be the Great Russian utopia? For a better understanding I recall that Slavophile thinkers approached the Slavs naively, believing that there was a possibility to unite them all not only in one state, but in some special formation that they – unfortunately or intentionally had never defined.
Nevertheless, there was talk of the unification of the Slavs and the unification of the Slavic nations. But of what unification of Nations can one speak without defining its state form? Therefore, it is nonsense, proved by current military confrontation on the Ukraine territory and the Dostojevsky statement: Russia will not have and never has had such haters, envious, slanderers and even obvious enemies as all these Slavic tribes. What is happening today in the Czech basin, Poland and the rest of Ukraine speaks for itself. It proves that the European Convention on Human Rights which entered into force on 3 September 1953, is dead.
Personally, I am convinced that in the imaginable future model of Eurasian or Eastern civilization there will be a place for the Slavic people, if they seek to accept it, and in which Russia will have a dominant position.
The Eastern question
The Eastern question first became acute at the end of the 18th century. It was characterized by the growing role of the Russian Empire in the Middle East. As a result of the victorious wars with the Ottoman Empire, the Russian state secured Novorossiya, Crimea, Bessarabia, part of the Caucasus and firmly established itself on the Black Sea coast. Military-political successes contributed to the awakening of the national consciousness of the Balkan peoples and spread the ideas of the liberation movement among them. The interests of the empire came into conflict with the efforts of other European powers in the Middle East, especially Great Britain and France. Here, too, it is possible to see and evaluate a historical parallel with today´s events.
The second stage of the development of the Eastern question was characterized by the crisis of the Ottoman state in the first half of the 19th century and the emergence of a real threat of its disintegration. Great Britain and France benefited the most from this period. Both states achieved the signing of agreements on unequal trade by the Ottoman Empire. The Crimean War of 1853-1856 and the Peace of Paris in 1856 further strengthened the positions of Great Britain and France in the Middle East and weakened the influence of the Russian Empire.
The third stage of the development of the Eastern question is characterized by the deepening crisis of the Ottoman Empire caused by the new rise of the liberation movement in the Balkans and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The war was started by the Russian Empire in support of the liberation struggle of the South Slavic peoples. The victory in the war resulted in a further narrowing of the sphere of influence of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Peninsula: the declaration of independence of Romania (1877), the establishment of the Bulgarian nation-state (1878), and the international legal recognition of the independence of Serbia and Montenegro.
All of this is the subject of today's visible and invisible and dangerous struggles. Therefore, it is necessary to look further into history. The last stage of the development of the Eastern question, which covers the period from the mid-80s of the 19th century to 1923. What happened at that time?
As a result of the intensification of the great powers' struggle to redistribute the world, the contradictions in the Middle East enormously escalated. As a result, the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the German Empire and its allies. After the military defeat, the Ottoman Empire underwent a revolution and almost all non-Turkish territories were separated from it. Question: Has the Eastern question really been eliminated as a problem of world politics? In my personal evaluation – the Eastern question has not been eliminated, and it still significantly affects the human rights issue and discussions at least in Europe.
Europe – the engine of everything that happens in history is dying
In this paper I would consider three characteristics of Europe. First, egalitarianism. That is, equality of rights and opportunities, which does not exist in nature and cannot exist anthropologically. That is why I consider egalitarianism to be a long-term disease of European civilization, despite the fact, that it was the Western world, still the spiritual world that created and continued to create culture. The Age of Enlightenment, which culminated in the French Revolution, began the end of European civilization. The revolution was made in the name of equality, which never happened. At best, there was an equalization of all classes and political rights, which have to be considered contrary to the very nature of man, as I personally am convinced, that equality between people is unnatural.
Second, I have been criticizing the establishment of happiness and well-being of the individual as the supreme achievement of the entire life. It does sound to me simply ridiculous, because happiness in (this) life cannot be comprehended. It is therefore a convulsive effort that embraces all people, but can have no result. There has never been, does not exist, and never will exist in history of human.
The third object of my criticism is the individualism. A man who fights only for himself, for his own benefit – ideally within the limits of the rules laid down by law, nevertheless, destroys the (European) civilization and makes all people the same. Leontiev said - average Europeans. It is an anthropological degradation when there is no exceptional personality or heroism. Therefore it is a symptom of the historical decline, linked to a pair of questions: There is a great mass of the people, but what is its dignity, especially when the popular masses are the subject of the formation of national culture in all its colours, moral features and religiosity? When the rights discourse began in the East, including Russia and China if there was no concept of rights in traditional thought?
China – the past and the present
In general, I pursue the conviction that a social order and harmony can only be pursued by affirming and protecting people's interests in security, material goods, social relationships, and fair treatment. On these issues, at least, there is no incompatibility between Confucianism and the general concept of human rights in Europe.
Instead of claiming rights, Chinese ethical teaching - in my opinion - emphasizes the sympathetic attitude of regarding all one's fellow men as having the same desires, and therefore the same rights, as one would like to enjoy oneself. This contradicts the political propaganda stand of the West, which thinks and promotes the position that the government of the People's Republic of China, guided by a totalitarian ideology under the absolute rule of the Chinese Communist Party, deprives citizens of their rights on a sweeping scale and systematically curtails freedoms as a way to retain power. The truth one can find by looking into the history.
Firstly, we need consider the moment when the idea of rights was introduced to China from Europe and ask: Can we in fact find in China today a distinctive conception of rights? Secondly, we need consider the recent history, for instance the last century. It includes the period before and after the establishment of People´s Republic of China in 1949. Thirdly, we need to find more about the rights discourse in the old China and consider for instance Confucius teachings as one of a few other teachings.
As a result, the moment when the idea of rights was introduced to China from Europe is rather difficult to identify precisely. Similar applies to other countries of the East and therefore also for the question related to the existence of conceptions of human rights. Chinese discussions of human rights emerged and developed in a distinctive way, sharing some but not all features with developments outside China.
In the West, the ECHR was drafted in the aftermath of the 2nd WW under the auspices of the Council of Europe with two purposes: 1) To ensure the protection of certain fundamental rights and freedoms and 2) To contribute to the establishment of stable democracies governed by the rule of law across Europe). ECHR therefore relates explicitly to politics, effective political democracy and the belief, that the rule of law stands for a pre-condition for peaceful cohabitation of peoples and states. Ideas of ECHR were developed and based on the strongest traditions in the United Kingdom, France and other member states of the Council of Europe, not on Asian or Chinese strongest traditions.
Therefore, the Eastern and Chinese concepts differ from corresponding Western concepts. From this follows that we needed to understand what it means for concepts to differ from one another. Concepts are usually emerging from relatively stable agreements in a community's norms, rather than as single, unchanging things that people had to share for communication to succeed. Concepts are messier and more complex than one may imagine. It should be enough for one begin to understand the complexity of the question – What makes the difference between concepts – by analysing what His Excellency Mr. Liu Huaqiu, head of the Chinese delegation to Vienna had written about quanli – his term for rights – in June 1993, 30 years ago:
The concept of human rights is a product of historical development. It is closely associated with specific social, political, and economic conditions and the specific history, culture, and values of a particular country. Different historical development stages have different human rights requirements. Countries at different development stages or with different historical traditions and cultural back-grounds also have different understanding and practice of human rights. Thus, one should not and cannot think of the human rights standard and model of certain countries as the only proper ones and demand all countries to comply with them. [Liu Huaqiu 1995, p. 214]
In any totalitarianism all people form a formless mass, there is no personalized power. It is an anonymous power that is embodied in a set of rules and forces everyone to live by those rules. But who created them, where did they come from? Today we see that the European Union is fundamentally throwing Christianity out of its foundations. It can be argued that moral and historical necessity inevitably lead to violence in the world. It can be argued that without chronic cruelty, nothing can be permanently built from human material. Because without violence one cannot live, because it not only wins but also persuades, especially when there is an idea and a vision behind it. That is why, in the moments of severe trials that we go through every day, the healthy forces of society force us to turn not to speakers, journalists and lawyers, but to people of power who are able to command and coerce.
That is why the great thing is war – not for Leontiev and many other personalities only. The war can also be called a divine institution, because it is a fire consuming but purifying the ecclesiastical, political and military power. A power that governs the thinking and will of the individual. Stable forms of life with their hierarchy of values can therefore be constituted only by force, as only the force is salvific, protects, oppose anarchy, decay and chaos.
From a philosophical and religious point of view, we can quote the Gospel: my strength is perfected in weakness, and the famous command of Jesus Christ: the kingdom of heaven is taken by force. Think not that I have come to bring peace to earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Therefore, it has not been difficult predict the epoch of great violence of the twenties and thirties of the 20th century, and the current violence in the world. Therefore it seems that to save the statehood is possible only with the paternalistic cult of the leader.
The symphony of civilizations and the rapprochement
The symphony of civilizations, is an idea Leontiev entertained for many years, Today, we call it the multipolar world. There is a question: How to realize the symphony of civilizations in a peaceful way, and how to incorporate European civilization with all its pathologies, monstrous obsession and will to expand into all other worlds, and considerations cannot exclude any sign of Europe's impending doom?
The rapprochement between East and West, including the Muslim world, could be possible when Europe got rid of its insane self-confidence. And accepts, that the creators of European culture were not some nameless masses and processes, but people with exceptional talents, kings and knights. They should therefore be treated with great piety, their work studied today and it should include the basics of the system of intensive development of individual abilities (SID(I)A.
Conclusion - A brief introduction into SID(I)A
Reflecting on decades long experience gained in a variety of positions and countries it seems to me that one of the most Ecological, Efficient and Economical methods of learning is knowing - How to ask, How to exercise and How our inner interlinked systems functions. Also, in the context of human rights and peace in the world we need to embark on a radical change in education adopting a systemic approach.
The principles of the recommended radical change in education by adopting a systemic approach (SID(I)A) are focused on the development of individual abilities that facilitate ecologically, efficiently, and economically to define challenges and opportunities under uncertainties and manage the associated changes. The competencies in the field of cognitive, behavioural and creativity processes allow solving tasks and challenges using modelling process, which includes the principles of cognition of how the brain works, its functions in direct relation to speech, in indirect relation to nonverbal communication and vice versa.
Basic process of change involves finding out what the present state of the person is and adding the appropriate resource (s) to lead that person to the desired state, the change. Beside this one need to accept that the map is not the territory. People respond to their own perceptions of reality. Every person has its own individual map of the world; no one is any more ‘real’ or ‘true’ than another. Already from this point of view human rights cannot be absolute.
Further to this it is important to understand, that the meaning of communication to another person is the response it elicits in that person, regardless of the intent of the communicator. The ‘wisest’ and most ‘compassionate’ maps are those which make available the widest and richest number of choices as opposed to being most ‘real’ and ‘accurate’. This stands for a serious challenge for many ethnic groups and nations. People make the best choices available to them given possibilities and the capabilities that they perceive available to them from their model of the world. Therefore, any behaviour no matter how evil, crazy or bizzare it seems is the best choice available to the person at that point in time.
The fact that a change comes from releasing the appropriate resource or activating the potential resource for a particular context by enriching a person’s map, and that our bodies, our societies and our universe form systems, super-systems and sub-systems all of which interact with and mutually influence each other proves, that the processes that take place within a person and between people and their environment, are systemic. Systems are self-organizing and naturally seek states of balance and stability. Therefore, there are no failures, only feedback.
Following are seven general interferences, also in the context of human rights, and how to deal with them within the context of SID(I)A: 1. Confusion – lack of clarity about goals, steps, etc…Resource: information gathering skills (meta model). 2. Content – having improper raw materials, inputs. Resource: sensory acuity and relevancy filters. 3. Catastrophes – past traumas and negative imprints. Resource: ancoring, disassociation, re – imprinting. 4. Comparison – inappropriate expectation, criteria. Resource: modelling and chunking skills. 5. Conflict – no congruency, secondary gain, hidden a.o. Resource: reframing, rapport and negotiation skills. 6. Context – external impediments. Resources: sensory acuity and behavioural flexibility. 7. Conviction – doubt about achieving a goal.
The overall purpose of this briefly introduced opportunity is to provide leads to the management of the creative process on both, a micro and macro level. The micro aspects of creativity relate to the inner thoughts and subjective experiences that form the basis of an individual's own personal creative activities. The macro aspects of the creativity deal with the process of enhancement of interaction between two or more people and the implications of the creative process in the context of an organization, TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving). Last but not least, the complex issue of human rights in a variety of civilizations demands the acceptance and encouragement of diversity, insight, spontaneity and many other dynamics.
Although creativity is considered mainly a cognitive process, SID(I)A is based on the combination of linguistics (as a language doesn’t develop in a vacuum), abstract language (which is important for critical thinking), E- Prime, psychology and quantum psychology (which proved that true happiness is inseparable from the feeling of giving and that a social person is much closer to happiness than the isolated person striving for superiority), creativity (on purpose and not by chance), neurolinguistics, theory of inventive problem solving (TIPS) and neurofeedback (for managing internal and external stress). Therefore, one can say and ask: SID(I)A allows one to become flowers in own hand. And who knows what may blossom then?
It is also worth to recall that the knowledge and characteristics of Chinese language and literature stand for a serious challenge to everyone dealing with Chinese text, documents, people and organizations. Similar applies to other Eastern countries. As a result, we all are facing not only a serious linguistic challenge with all its consequences, but much more also in regard to HR, politics and cooperation.
For instance the main characteristics of the Chinese language are: linguistically analytic and isolating, word units do not change because of inflection, idioms and allusions from traditional Chinese culture.From this already follows that the concepts in West are West´s own. In East are East´s own. Therefore, concepts in China are China's own. All concepts in contexts within which they have emerged and been contested, have in common central episodes in history of the East and the West. In addition, China's cultural and political history have always drawn on pre-existing concepts and concerns – even when they criticized some of the commitments central to those existing values promoted by the West.
A discussion about HR would not very much help as there is a qualitative difference between both: the time aspect, the way of thinking and arguing are different. Under the assumption that all involved in the rights discourse do not think of HR values as parochial, and no one wishes a global war, no one can be immune from criticism.
Therefore, the words of N. K. Roerich (1874-1947), Russian mystic, painter, scenographer, philosopher, archaeologist, theosophist, writer and traveller who created over 7000 paintings and 30 literary works, are still valid: The last war between men will be a war for truth. This war will be in every person. War with one's own ignorance, aggression, irritation. And only a radical transformation of each individual can become the beginning of a peaceful life for all people. And also, the Chinese proverb: A hut of straw in which people laugh is worth more than a palace in which people cry. Consent not needed.
Jan Campbell (1946) – studied construction engineering, architecture and philosophy; post-gradually also biocybernetics, Islamic banking and insurance. Professionally he was active during mid and long term in several countries including Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Malaysia, ex-USSR, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Czech Republic and Germany, of which he is a citizen. Professional activities and experiences allowed to accept positions like a Head of EC Co-ordinating for TACIS programme, personal advisor to PM and analyst of political – economic risks including issues of Science diplomacy and work designated for narrow professional and public audiences, including university students. He obtained an honorary professor’s degree at the Ural State Agrarian University. In Slovakia he was awarded the Golden Biatec for 2014 for humanizing society through publishing about the development and solutions of civilizational problems and global priorities.
read more in our Telegram-channel https://t.me/The_International_Affairs