How Globalization Spurs Terrorism: The Lopsided Benefits of "One World" and Why That Fuels Violence

By Fathali M. Moghaddam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Universal Rights and Duties
as Explosive Threats

What is it to be human? There are many ways of answering this question, but in the twenty-first century there is new impetus to provide an answer that includes the idea that all humans have fundamental rights, what a person is owed by others—rights are seen as central to the kinds of creatures we humans are, to our identities. For example, if Jane has the right of free speech, then others must provide her with the opportunity to speak freely. On the surface, this would seem to be a noncontroversial issue. Surely, we all agree that all human beings have human rights. Surely the issue of human rights should serve as a rallying cry, a common interest that binds all human groups together to work toward peace? Far from it! In practice, human rights have proved to be a source of intense conflict and an explosive issue associated with major disagreement between groups.

In practice, no other issue seems to demonstrate what Samuel Huntington famously called a “clash of civilizations” as vividly as human rights.1 Huntington identifies the combination of a number of factors, including western Christianity, the separation of spiritual and temporal authority, the rule of law, social pluralism, and the strength of civil society as contributing in western societies to increased individualism and greater importance being given to individual rights. The absence of the combination of these factors in most non-western societies has meant, Huntington argues, that the spread of democracy and human rights did not take place after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, as many had hoped. The West has continued to press in support of democracy

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