Are 'democracy' and 'human rights' Western colonial exports? No. Here's why.

Jackie Fielder's picture

In September 2014, students in Hong Kong gathered in a public square to protest some of the Beijing government’s legislative initiatives. One of their slogans was, “When dictatorship becomes a reality, revolution is a duty,” a declaration attributed to Victor Hugo. During the Arab Spring, protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria raised such slogans as: “The people want the overthrow of the regime,” “Bread, freedom, social justice” and “The revolution of dignity and freedom.” Some academics and public intellectuals who study non-Western societies, worried about imposing Western values, have expressed concern about the use of categories such as human rights and liberal democracy. They have instead favored drawing on non-Western societies’ own intellectual traditions and lived experiences. Thus, the academic debate about the form of government that China should adopt has focused on drawing from the ideals of Confucianism.

Date Published: 

Saturday, April 2, 2016