Revolutions

In this essay I had to answer the question “Can an overall pattern be identified for the causes and outcomes of revolutions?”. I really enjoyed writing this one because I came across some very interesting theories of revolutions and very controversial arguments on the topic. I recommend you to see the bibliography in the end if you’re interested.

In this essay we will argue that we can observe an overall pattern for the causes and outcomes of revolutions but that we should also take into account the specificities of each revolution which may divert it from the pattern we will look at. To support this argument we will focus on the French, Russian and Iranian Revolution throughout this essay and we will form our overall pattern based on the natural phases of revolutions presented by Crane Brinton (Brinton 1965); the J-curve concept developed by James Davies (Davies 1962); and finally, DeFronzo’s critical factors of revolutionary movements (DeFronzo 2007). To complement we will later highlight some of the specificities that led Anne Applebaum to say that “every revolution is different” (Applebaum 2011). Before doing so, we will present a definition of revolution based on Brinton (Brinton 1965: 4) and Goodwin (Goodwin 2001: 9).

In 1965, Crane Brinton defined a revolution as a “drastic, sudden substitution of one group in charge of the running of a territorial political entity by another group hitherto not running that government” (Brinton 165: 4). For Brinton, a revolution is then a radical change of the people in charge of the state which usually involves some level of violent uprisings. This definition can certainly be used when referring to the three cases we are considering: France in 1789, Russia in 1917 and Iran in 1979, but we should complement it with Goodwin’s restrictive definition of the term which says that “revolutions entail not only mass mobilization and regime change, but also more or less rapid and fundamental social, economic and/or cultural change during or soon after the struggle for state power” (Goodwin 2001: 9). Therefore, what we will assist in the three cases is an enormous level of transformation in the state’s political, economic and social structures essentially due to a change of thinking of the masses and subsequent protest against the regime.

The first study about this issue we should analyse to observe the pattern of revolutions is the one of Brinton who is considered “the founder of the study of comparative revolution” (Knutsen and Bailey 1989: 424). He used pathological terms to explain a revolution and was thus able to describe the major phases revolutions have in common after the collapse of the old regime:  the Moderate Phase, when a moderate new government emerges and tries to institute reforms to bring the Old Regime’s structures to an end (Knutsen and Bailey 1989: 421); the Radical Phase, when moderate reforms and attempts to establish order ultimately fail and a radical faction starts to get mass support against the new government, until it takes over and begins a process of radicalization of the state (Knutsen and Bailey 1989: 422); the Phase of Terror, when radicalization resulted in more instability and, as a response, the radical government institutes a strong, violent and authoritarian regime to ensure reforms are in motion (Knutsen and Bailey 1989: 422); and finally, the Thermidor, when the revolutionary wave starts to give place to stability and from within the radicals a single man takes command of the government and rules in the form of a dictatorship and imposes order and reorganization (Knutsen and Bailey 1989: 422). There are however two problems with Brinton’s perspective. The first is that it gives us only small insights on the causes of revolutions as it is mainly focused on the occurring events and so it would be incomplete to use it as an answer for this essay. The second is that Brinton himself claimed that he only meant to describe the similarities between the four classical revolutions of which he clearly acknowledges that the American Revolution did not follow all the phases he described and he did not intended to apply his model to other revolutionary movements (Brinton 1965: 7).

Brinton explains how the French and the Russian Revolution fit his model. The Girondins in France and the Provisional Government in Russia represented the Moderate Phase. In France, the war with European powers led to the removal of some constitutional provisions (Brinton 1965: 129). In Russia, the government decided to continue the involvement in the war as opposed to popular desires (Brinton 1965: 131). The moderates are then replaced by the radicals: the Jacobins in France and the Bolsheviks in Russia. In this period, in both revolutions, the radicals eliminate all its opposition and start to build “the machinery of the coming Terror” (Brinton 1965: 165) such as the creation of revolutionary polices: Cheka and Comités Révolutionnaires (Brinton 1965: 172). Then the Terror began and violence and a strong cult of the Revolution become constant in both revolutions (Brinton 1965: 198). The Thermidorian Phase was very clear in both revolutions when Napoleon Bonaparte in France and Joseph Stalin in Russia, rose from the chaos of the revolution and took power (Brinton 1965: 207).

We can also apply this pattern to the Iranian Revolution. The Moderate Phase was present under the government of Mehdi Bazargan and his democratic views (Keddie 1985). Bazargan was not intended to form a theocratic republic and eventually his government resigned due to ineffectiveness and lack of support from Khomeini after the American hostages’ crisis. Then the Radical Phase began when the leftist Abol Hassan Banisadr was elected (Keddie 1985). However, he was in a constant struggle with the Iranian clerics and in June 1981 he fled to France in exile. The Phase of Terror clearly followed after the rise of the Islamic Republican Party: thousands of people were killed or executed, including some dissident clerics, and the opposition was target of a brutal level of repression (Parsa 2011: 67). In the last phase, the Thermidor, we could witness a decline in violence from the government and an improvement of foreign relations (Keddie 1985).  However the rise of one single authoritative leader was not very explicit. Some authors (Ferguson 2005; Bill 1981) argue that the revolution is not yet finished and that that character may still appear but we argue that man was there since the beginning and even if he was not part of the government, he was definitely the most influential person in the country: Ruhollah Khomeini.

The second important theory on this subject is the J-curve created by Davies based on de Tocqueville’s and Marx’s theories of revolutions (Davies 1962: 5). According to Davies, revolutions will occur when after a period of economic growth, social development and subsequent rising expectations of the population is followed by an inverted period when the people get frustrated with the huge gap between their expectations and what they actually get in the system (Davies 1962: 6). Therefore he claims that the state of mind of the people is of extreme importance for revolution to happen (Davies 1962: 18). In contrast with Brinton’s, this theory can be used quite well as an analytical tool to explain the causes of revolutions (Stone 1966: 172) but does not explain how the revolutions later develop and what sort of outcome follows. To a better understanding of the J-curve pattern please observe the picture below (Davies 1962: 6).

 

The J-curve can be used to explain our three revolutions. In the years before the French Revolution, there was an increase in rural prosperity; the pressure of the bourgeoisie for reforms was being peacefully received by the state and the expectations of the people were rising (Davies 1962: 15). However, everything changed in 1787 with the fiscal crisis of the state, weak military capabilities following the support given to the United States of America against the British and the bad harvests of 1787 and 1788 which led to the rise of bread prices and the beginning of popular unrest (Davies 1962: 16; Brinton 1965: 32). In Russia, this started in 1861 with the emancipation of serfs which, in addition to the country’s industrialization and decline in repression, led to an increase of expectations (Davies 1962: 10). But the war with Japan, the events of the Bloody Sunday and subsequent increase in repression and the First World War, led to the rise of a feeling of frustration which reached an unbearable point in February 1917 (Davies 1962: 12). Finally, in Iran, the situation was the same. Before the revolution the country was witnessing a great period of economic growth, especially due to the rise of oil prices in 1973 and the Shah’s modernization programme. This was followed by a period of increased housing prices, unemployment and economic downturn after 1976 (Keddie 1985; Muhl 1990: 7-8).  

The last theory we should focus on is the group of critical factors described by James DeFronzo in order for a revolution succeed. Disregarding any particular order, DeFronzo presents these elements: 1) frustration of the expectations of the people and popular uprisings; 2) divisions among elites; 3) revolutionary motivations unify different classes in society; 4) crisis of the state’s coercive and administrative capabilities; and 5) a “permissive world context” (DeFronzo 2007: 11), the unsuccessful, or absence of, intervention of other countries during the revolutionary process. The most important factor for our pattern, and for DeFronzo himself, which is many times forgotten in most theories of revolutions, is precisely the tolerance of other countries and ineffective intervention in the country where a revolutionary movement has erupted even if they supported the overthrown government. This point was also emphasized by Goldstone when he claimed that “[…] which foreign powers seek to intervene, on whose side, and with what effort—all will determine the contours of the revolutionary struggle and its outcome” (Goldstone 2011: 173-174). This element was present during our three revolutions, or at least partially. During the most intense, fragile and revolutionary period of the French Revolution, even though there was a large opposition against it in many European countries, they never executed a mass intervention in France. Actually, what succeeded was quite the opposite because France declared war to Austria and thus started a series of victories against several European countries and consequently spreading the revolutionary ideas. The situation was similar in Iran.   The United States were a long-time supporter of the Shah’s regime and President Carter even called Iran an “island of stability” (Carter cited in Whitney 2010: 1) under the Shah’s leadership but when the revolution took place the US were not that supportive anymore and did not intervened in the country to stabilize it (Whitney 2010: 1). The Russian Revolution is the one which most contrasts from the others in this aspect because foreign powers such as the British Empire, China and Italy intervened in the country and supported the White Forces against the Bolsheviks. However, the size and the effectiveness of the Red Army defeated the opposing factions and the revolution was consolidated (DeFronzo 2007: 48-49).

As we just discussed we can build a pattern for most revolutions based on the work of Brinton, DeFronzo and Davies. However we must be careful when applying this pattern because certain specificities of context and unexpected decisions might deflect a revolution from it. Both Montefiore and Applebaum while looking at the revolution of the Arab Spring argued that every revolution has its differences (Applebaum 2011; Montefiore 2011); “every revolution is revolutionary in its own way” (Montefiore 2011). This is not entirely incorrect if look to the revolutions under examination, in particular in terms of outcomes. In the French Revolution the imperialist ambitions of Bonaparte, and especially the fatal military mistake of invading Russia in the winter, ultimately led to his fall and the restoration of the monarchy. In Russia the strong organization and centralization undertook by Stalin as a way of ruling such a vast nation in such a chaotic period led to the creation of an authoritarian regime which lasted for almost 70 years. On the other hand in Iran, after a fight for freedom against the Shah, Khomeini surprised most of the population with his theocratic ideas (Parsa 2011: 67-68). Each of them had a specific context in which it developed and we should never disregard that because it can lead to different outcomes.

As we have seen in this essay, it is possible to identify an overall pattern for the causes and, to a certain extent, the outcomes of revolutions based on the three theories explained. As it was said they complement each other because each of them focuses on different common aspects of revolutions. However, when studying a revolutionary moment, we must pay attention to the differences they show as well. But as we said in the beginning, this essay had the objective of finding an “overall” pattern and not a specific set of rules and procedures of which all revolutions strictly followed in the past and will go through in the future.  

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Applebaum, A., (2011). “Every Revolution is Different”, Slate Magazine [online] Slate Magazine. Available from: < http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2011/02/every_revolution_is_different.html> [Accessed 27 April 2014].

Bill, J. A., (1981). “Cromwell, Napoleon, and the Iranians”, The Christian Science Monitor [online] The Christian Science Monitor. Available from: <http://www.csmonitor.com/1981/0909/090930.html> [Accessed 27 April 2014].

Brinton, C., (1965). The Anatomy of Revolution. New York: Vintage Books.

Davies, J. C., (1962). “Toward a Theory of Revolution,” American Sociological Review, 27, pp. 5-18.

DeFronzo, J., (2007). Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. 3rd ed. Colorado: Westview Press.

Ferguson, N., (2005). “Iran’s revolution isn’t going away”, Los Angeles Times [online] Los Angeles Times. Available from: <http://articles.latimes.com/2005/aug/15/opinion/oe-ferguson15> [Accessed 27 April 2014].

Goldstone, J. A., (1980). “Theories of Revolution: The Third Generation,” World Politics 32, 3, pp. 425-453.

Goodwin, J., (2001). No Other Way Out: States and Revolutionary Movements, 1945-1991. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Keddie, N., (1985). “Khomeini’s Rule”, London Review of Books, 7, 4, pp. 7-8.

Knutsen, T. L. & Bailey, J.L., (1989). “Over the Hill? The Anatomy of Revolutions at Fifty”, Journal of Peace Research, 26, 4, pp. 421-431.

Montefiore, S. S., (2011). “Every Revolution is Revolutionary in Its Own Way”, The New York Times [online] The New York Times. Available from: <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/opinion/27montefiore.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&> [Accessed 27 April 2014].

Muhl, J. A., (1990). The Iranian Revolution: Revalidating Crane Brinton’s Model of Revolutions for the Operational and Strategic Planner. [online] Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library. Available from: <http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm/ref/collection/p4013coll3/id/1836> [Accessed 26 April 2014].

Parsa, M., (2011). “Ideology and Political Action in the Iranian Revolution”. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 31, 1, pp. 53-68.

Stone, L., (1966). “Theories of Revolution”, World Politics, 18, 2, pp. 159-176.

Whitney, G., (2010). “A Road Over Rough Terrain: US-Iranian Relations”. Ask Gleaves. Paper 5. [online] Grand Valley State University. Available from: <http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/ask_gleaves/5> [Accessed 26 April 2014]

Universal Human Rights

Hey guys. I’ve decided to share some of the essays I had to write for my course this year. Please do comment on them and feel free to disagree if you want. All I want is to cause healthy debates in this community and hear some other opinions.

This first essay is about the universality of human rights. Are they really universal? Or is it just a made up concept to actually create exploitation and to help the West to dominate the rest of the world? This is my opinion.

In this essay we will argue that human rights are not truly universal. In order to reach this assumption we will start by defining human rights according to the definition presented in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and explain why this Declaration was not even universal from the start. After that we will focus on the three main critiques of the universality of human rights: the strength of cultural relativism; the critical theory argument that human rights are imposed by the “West” to other parts of the world as a form of imperialism; and the fact that in practical terms, “international politics, like all politics, is a struggle for power” (Morgenthau cited in Dunne and Schmidt, 2011: 87) and so the state’s national interests are always above human rights. We will also examine a different perspective by Jack Donnelly but we will conclude that his arguments do not have enough practical strength and is nothing more than aspirational.

In 1948 the United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was meant to be seen as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948) or, in other words, a truly universal set of rights. The human rights established in this Declaration are universal because, as stated in Article 2, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (1948). However we should analyse the creation of the Declaration in more detail. In 1948, on the creation of the Declaration, 48 countries voted in favour and 8 abstained (Alves, 2000: 481). So how can we argue that a Declaration signed by only 48 countries is undeniably universal in a world which currently has more than 200 states? Well, one can argue that this argument is not valid because a state must agree with a certain set of standards to join the United Nations, but then again there are some members who do not have any concern with human rights, such as China or North Korea. Thus we can see that even this document was not born of an agreement of all the international system.

One of the strongest arguments against the universality of human rights is the issue of cultural relativism. Cultural relativists argue that “no human rights are absolutes” (Shestack, 1998: 228) and “that the principles that one may use for judging behaviour are relative to the society in which one is raised, that there is infinite cultural variability, and that all cultures are morally equal or valid” (1998: 228). Therefore universality is a myth because we are shaped by the culture in which we are raised and we simply cannot apply the same values and beliefs to other cultures since it will clash with their own principles or it may just be irrelevant for them (Tharoor, 1999: 2). A classic example of this clash between human rights and cultural practices, mentioned by Sonia Harris (2003: 136), is the issue of female circumcision or female genital mutilation in several African countries. This is a deeply embedded practice which many countries believe to be part of their culture and therefore do not want to remove it even though other cultures might see it as an obvious defiance to the Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).  Harris also points out other polemic traditions such as “early and forced marriage, gender discrimination, civil and political rights and corporal punishment” (2003: 136). Another example of cultural relativism is the concept of “Asian values”. Many Asian countries, as Amartya Sen states, are less supportive of freedom and more concerned with order and discipline because having authoritarian regimes is more effective in promoting economic success (Sen, 1997: 10).

As an implication of this critique, the argument that the conception of human rights is not universal but merely from the elites of the “West” and that western countries are using it as a political instrument to intervene in the affairs of the rest of the world has been gaining many supporters. Makau Mutua argues that “human rights are part of the cultural package of the West” (Mutua, 2001:) and that its imposition particularly in the developing world has its roots in the belief that Europe and the United States have the “imperial mission to civilize the other and to convert other societies into inferior versions of the same” (Slate cited in Mutua, 2001:). Most of the western civilization still has this ignorant and discriminatory belief of being superior to all others. This conviction of the need to “civilize” is nothing more but a new form of colonialism. An evident implication of this conviction is the humanitarian intervention issue. In the name of human rights Western countries intervene in other countries, therefore undermining its sovereignty and legitimacy, but in reality there is always a particular interest in doing such action in the country in question. Slavoj Žižek gives a great emphasis on this point in his work. As he once said “‘human rights’ are, as such, a false ideological universality, which masks and legitimizes a concrete politics of Western imperialism, military interventions and neo-colonialism” (Žižek, 2005: 128-129). We could argue that key word here is “masks”. Human rights are not universal for the reason that they were indeed originated in the West and are now being used to mask the real interests of Western countries: dominating the weaker countries of the developing world (Hoover, 2013: 3) and consequently spread Western political and economic power (Donnelly, 2011: 507).

The third great challenge to the idea of the universality of human rights is what Professor An-Na’im calls “the paradox of self-regulation by the state” (An-Na’im, 2013: 403). Even though there are some international institutions that have the obligation to supervise if human rights norms are being respected, the fact is that these institutions are formed by states and thus it is the state who has the most responsibilities  regarding the application of human rights in its territory. However the state must also take into account its sovereignty, integrity and the amount of power it has. Human rights and states’ interests many times collide and in most of the times the one who emerges victorious is the state due to its political and economic power. This is clearly a realist argument which considers that in a world of an anarchical system of states, the survival of the state and the pursuit for power are the most important purposes of the government in office and so national interests are always more important to safeguard than the rights of the citizens (Dunne and Schmidt, 2011:  86-87). The issue of the “national interest” becomes even more important in the developing countries where in addition to these problems they also have to deal with other tasks such as nation building and economic growth since the consolidation of the state organization is still incomplete. Consequently they simply do not dedicate any of their attention or resources in the enforcement of these rights (Tharoor, 1999: 2).

Before we conclude this essay we should examine the perspective of one of the biggest defenders of human rights, Jack Donnelly. On his work “The Relative Universality of Human Rights” (2007), Donnelly argues that we should not see human rights as something universal or relative but rather as “relatively universal” (2007: 282) as something that can be applied on a global scale and still leave some space for cultural differences. To defend his position Donnelly makes a distinction between conceptual and substantive universality. Conceptual universality relates to the fact that human rights is something “one has simply because one is human” (2007: 282), however he does admit that this argument means nothing without the support of a substantive universality which refers to the enforcement of these norms in practice. But then he also states that this a serious issue because the “Enforcement of authoritative international human rights norms, however, is left almost entirely to sovereign states” (2007: 283) and as we have seen before, states are mainly interested in power, not in human rights doctrines. Therefore Donnelly’s argument is understandable in the sense that he is appealing to a better dialogue between cultures to reach some sort of “relative universality” but in practical terms we must admit that it is purely aspirational; it is just a desire, not yet a reality.

As we have seen in this essay, human rights are not truly universal. This is so because of several aspects such as the controversial birth of the Universal Declaration of Human rights; the cultural relativist argument; the theory of the imposition of human rights as a political and economic tool of the West; and finally the realist point of view of the current state system of international relations, where the survival of the state and the pursuit of power is all that matters. Some renowned scholars such as Jack Donnelly try to go beyond the current discussion by merging the relative and the universal approach but as we have seen its results are not that effective yet which supports the claim of the inexistence of universal human rights. 

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Alves, J. A. L. (2000) “The Declaration of Human Rights in Postmodernity”. Human Rights Quarterly. 22 (2), pp. 478-500. [online] Available from: Project MUSE. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hrq/summary/v022/22.2alves.html> [Accessed 1 March 2014]

An-Na’im, A. A. (2013) “Human Rights, Universality and Sovereignty: The Irrelevance and Relevance of Sharia”. Global Policy. 4 (4), pp. 401-408. [online] Available from: Wiley Online Library. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12088/abstract> [Accessed 4 March 2014] 

Donnelly, J. (2007) “The Relative Universality of Human Rights”. Human Rights Quarterly. 29 (2), pp. 281-306. [online] Available from: Project MUSE. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/human_rights_quarterly/v029/29.2donnelly.html> [Accessed 6 February 2014] 

Donnelly, J. (2011) “Human Rights”. In: Baylis. J. et al. (eds.) The Globalization of World Politics. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dunne, T. and Schmidt, B. C. (2011) “Realism”. In: Baylis. J. et al. (eds.) The Globalization of World Politics. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harris, S. (2003) “International Human Rights Law: Imperialist, Inept and Ineffective? Cultural Relativism and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”. Human Rights Quarterly. 25 (1), pp. 130-181. [online] Available from: Project MUSE. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/hrq/summary/v025/25.1harris-short.html> [Accessed 3 March 2014]

Hoover, J. (2013) “Towards a politics for human rights: Ambiguous humanity and democratizing rights”. Philosophy & Social Criticism. 39 (9), pp. 935-961. [online] Available from: City Research Online (City University Library). <http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/2202/> [Accessed 26 February 2014] 

Mutua, M. W. (2001) “Savages, Victims, and Saviors: The Metaphor of Human Rights”. Harvard International Law Journal. 42 (1), pp. 201-245. [online] Available from: Social Science Research Network (SSRN). <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1525547> [Accessed 4 March 2014] 

Sen, A. (1997) Human Rights and Asian Values. New York: Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs. [online] Available from: Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. <http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/archive/morgenthau/254.html/_res/id=sa_File1/254_sen.pdf> [Accessed 6 February 2014]

Shestack, J. J. (1998) “The Philosophic Foundations of Human Rights”. Human Rights Quarterly. 20 (2), pp. 201-234. [online] Available from: Project MUSE. <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/human_rights_quarterly/v020/20.2shestack.html> [Accessed 1 March 2014] 

Tharoor, S. (1999) “Are Human Rights Universal?”. World Policy Journal. 16 (4). [online] Available from: World Policy Institute. <http://www.worldpolicy.org/tharoor.html> [Accessed 6 February 2014] 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) [online] Available from: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. <http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Language.aspx?LangID=eng> [Accessed 1 March 2014] 

Žižek, S. (2005) “Against Human Rights”. New Left Review. 34 (4), pp. 115-131. [online] Available from: University of Warwick. <http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/staff/emeritus/robertfine/home/teachingmaterial/humanrights/pdfreadings/zizek_against_human_rights.pdf> [Accessed 28 February 2014]  

As promised here you have the vídeo of the Tibet conference I went to. Please watch it and share ii as much as you can. Enjoy

China, Tibet and the West

Yesterday I went to a conference on the topic “Is the Dalai Lama bad for the West?” implying that Western countries are starting to see the Tibetan issue as a problem to their economic relationships with China.

 This conference was held at the University of Westminster (where I study) and the speakers were Dr. Dibyesh Anand, Dr. Martin Mills, Jonathan Mirsky, Dr. Tsering Topgyal  and one more speaker who I am terribly sorry but I can’t remember the name.

It was an extremely interesting lecture where I got a better understanding of the Tibetan issue and learned the fact that some Western countries avoid any kind of relations with the Dalai Lama because it could anger the Chinese government. Even more nowadays when China is one of the greatest economies of the world. This just shows that Western countries are scared of China and deal with it as if it is a completely different world. An example of this was, as Jonathan mentioned, Boris Johnson and David Cameron’s trip to China where they immensely praised the Chinese and the two countries relation and didn’t make any mention about the human rights issue neither in Tibet or the rest of China. ”They are the biggest clowns of today” said Jonathan.

Dr. Mills decided to show to the audience a more economic point of view. He mentioned that the value of British exports to China is only half (or even a third) of what the UK exports to the USA or the EU. This means that although China has an impact on British and the World’s economy we shouldn’t be scared of talking about issues of human rights because we might lose an economic partner. Which by the way would never happen because we need China as much as China needs us.

Dr. Dibyesh on the other hand decided to focus on the view of Tibetan people about this subject and explained that over their long history of struggle against the atrocities of the Chinese government we have seen that some Western countries (and India) use the Tibetan issue to pressure the government but then drop their support for Tibetans when it’s no longer useful for them. Therefore Tibetan people are starting to understand that the West will never truly help them because economic interests will always be more important.

On Jonathan’s final remarks he stated that this situation tell us once again that politicians today are an elite who doesn’t care about what the people they should be representing think. “The people should fight and regain control over politics” Jonathan said. “And today all of you before going to sleep you should write a letter to your MPs. Because if we flood them with letters about this or any particular issue they might listen and do something. You are not powerless because words are a very powerful weapon”.

This conference really sparkled my interest for Tibet and to fight for what I think it’s right using my words (or actions if I can). During this year I will be part of a research project led by Dr. Dibyesh himself about stateless nations which is about specific ethnic groups who feel themselves as a unique nation, different from the state they live in and thus should have one of their own.

Also I will try to post a video of the conference when it is uploaded to youtube.

Damn, even I would give him asylum!

Damn, even I would give him asylum!

Paulo Portas Statement on the Bolivian Incident

Every day I see the so-called politicians of my country saying and doing things completely foolish and ridiculous. I’m nineteen years old and I wouldn’t do half of the mistakes they do on their daily basis…

Today the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs explained to the Parliament and the country the reason why he had denied the Bolivian airplane to land in Portugal last week. It seems it was because of “technical considerations”

My friend, even our Spanish neighbours said that they were informed that Snowden was on board (although it wasn’t), please stop lying to those who knew the reasons why you did it even before you said anything….

image

Second part of the interview with Edward Snowden. A really brave man.

First part of the interview in Hong Kong with Edward Snowden. 

From The Economist

From The Economist

"1. I presented this morning my resignation from the Government to the Prime Minister.

2. With the presentation of the resignation, which is IRREVOCABLE, I obey my conscience and I can not do more.”

— These are the first two paragraphs of the foreign minister Paulo Portas’ resignation letter which he presented last tuesday… Funny thing: he is now vice-prime minister and has the ability to finish the Portuguese government at any time. But the word irrevocable still echoes in my ears….

Um País Ingovernável

Estou pela primeira vez a escrever um post em português pois quero que todos os portugueses que tenham a possibilidade de o ler, percebam-no perfeitamente.

Estive nos últimos dez meses a viver fora do país e cheguei há apenas 5 dias. No entanto, foi o suficiente para ver o início da queda do XIX Governo Constitucional da República Portuguesa expressado pela demissão de dois dos ministros mais importantes do governo, um por razões de estabilidade financeira e outro por razões de estabilidade política.

Há dois anos atrás o governo que foi apresentado aos cidadãos deste país representava uma tentativa de mudança (e de limpeza dos problemas que o governo do Sr (Eng) José Sócrates criou) com uma coligação entre o PSD e o CDS, o que dava ao governo uma maioria parlamentar! O governo tinha capacidades para fazer algo melhor pelo país!

Contudo, toda a conjuntura económica que envolvia o continente europeu desgastou este governo e o nosso país está neste momento a passar as 48 horas mais ridículas das últimas décadas! Como é que é possível que numa altura em que Portugal está na corda bamba, o ministro das finanças, Vítor Gaspar se demita? É algo simplesmente impensável que não aconteceria em mais nenhum país do Mundo. Mas na sua carta de demissão, Gaspar falou da falta de coesão do Governo, algo que observámos em várias situações de birras entre os líderes da coligação, e isso parece que obteve a sua mais clara confirmação hoje, dia em que Paulo Portas se demitiu.

O que sinto neste momento é uma mistura de confusão, revolta e incredibilidade. Por muito absurdo que a demissão de Gaspar seja, era algo já de certa forma esperado desde Novembro e pode ser compreensível. Mas o Sr. Portas conseguiu mostrar ao país uma irresponsabilidade monumental! Conseguiu acabar com este governo! Amanhã vamos provavelmente ouvir nos noticiários que o CDS vai abandonar o governo e aí lá se vai a maioria parlamentar, lá se vai o governo.

No entanto, o desfile de palhaços continua. Tenho que dizer que Pedro Passos de Coelho é um dos primeiros ministros mais fracos e pouco inteligentes que já existiram. Ele deveria ter evitado estas duas demissões antes de elas virem a público. Especialmente a de Portas. Se existia mesmo uma coligação, a escolha da nova ministra das finanças deveria ser do agrado de ambos os líderes e OBVIAMENTE que, visto que Gaspar disse que já não tinha condições políticas para continuar, deveria ter sido escolhido alguém de fora do Governo e não alguém com o mesmo tipo de pensamento e que esteve envolvida na polémica dos contratos swap.

Subindo ainda mais um pouco na pirâmide desta democracia portuguesa, vem o nosso presidente da República, Cavaco Silva. Um verdadeiro incompetente. Como sempre tomou a sua posição neutra, como se nada passasse no seu mundo e depositou toda a responsabilidade do futuro do governo na Assembleia. Não percebo como é que aquele homem consegue mostrar tal falta de respeito perante os seus cidadãos. Por favor Sr Presidente demita-se, já que estamos numa onde de demissões.

Nas televisões, os comentadores falam de toda esta situação, cada um achando que isto ou aquilo deveria ser feito, mas todos sabemos o que seria se os puséssemos a governar… Contudo, e apesar de não gostar particularmente da maior parte daquilo que diz, devo citar Miguel Sousa Tavares que no programa “Por Onde Vamos” na Sic Notícias que voltando-se para os seus colegas disse “Mas algum de vocês gostaria de governar Portugal?”. Será que a verdade é essa? Somos um país impossível de governar? Ou o problema está nos governantes?

O governo caiu e disso ninguém tem dúvidas. O que vai acontecer pode ser uma de duas coisas: ou Coelho e Cavaco aguentam com o que se esta a passar e decidem continuar com o governo, mesmo sem maioria; ou vamos a eleições antecipadas, o que poderia significar Seguro como primeiro ministro. De um ao outro venha o diabo e escolha. A situação é completamente ridícula, tal como os políticos deste país.

Tenho pena de Portugal

This is alarming.
This is revolting.

This is alarming.

This is revolting.

Koreas

            

This is a photograph of the Korean peninsula during the night taken by NASA. It’s completely astonishing how huge the difference in the illumination levels is between South Korea and North Korea which only demonstrates the sharp economic backwardness of the communist country. With a GDP per capita of just 1800$, Kim Jong-Un’s country is considered one of the poorest and least developed in the world as opposed to South Korea - one of the strongest economies in the Asian region.

Expansion

Hi everyone. From now on my publications will also be posted on my new blog olicritical.blogspot.com . I decided to this because in Tumblr I can only receive comments from Tumblr users but in Blogger I can receive comments from every single people in the world! Both blogs will have the exact same stuff. Thank you.