Liberty and Justice for Her? A New Paradigm for Ambitious Women

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All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates. Civil rights and voting rights were not sufficient to overcome the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and chronic poverty; expansive federally-organized and directed action was required to build the social capacity and skills required to access the new opportunities before them.

liberty and justice for her a new paradigm for ambitious women Manual

From the Smithian perspective, these attempts at government-directed moral reconstruction are folly. Smith knew, without the benefit of the brain imaging, that socially and emotionally capable human beings are built from the bottom up i. A Smithian anti-poverty policy would tilt in favor of supporting socialization or at least not interfering in it unduly.

Such a stance would tend to temper excessive optimism about moral reconstruction and look for ways of strengthening local institutions e. While there are top-flight academics studying Moral Sentiments , popular mention of the work is vanishingly rare. The former would be a retrievable loss, but the latter would truly be a shame. There are not two Adam Smiths—one retrograde social conservative and the other a champion of liberty and free markets—but one man thinking in two, interlocking spheres.

Whether he is talking about the individual, the community or the economy, Smith is really talking about one thing: the social nature of human beings. Order is emergent as much within the units of society—marriage, family, neighborhood—as it is in the market. Wherever it occurs, this order deserves respect, deference, and support, because when it is disrupted, either by accident or design, isolation and despair tend to flood in. The practical effect of speaking and acting as though Moral Sentiments was never written has two serious drawbacks.

First, it deprives libertarians of access to a rich tradition of thought about human development and sociology that opens them to the charge of heartlessness. Since Smith spent most of his adult life writing and re-writing Moral Sentiments , and since its ideas and concepts animate the Wealth of Nations , this seems to be a rather significant intellectual failure. The larger and more important damage done via this silence, however, is how it deprives public policy of key insights about the reasons for limiting and conditioning government interventions at all levels of society and economy.

The Soul’s Need for Rootedness

In the U. A number of years ago I asked a friend who had spent a career overseeing and reviewing evaluations of social services interventions what they all added up to. A similar effect was noted in a recent evaluation of differing approaches to helping homeless families: straight-up housing subsidies out-performed models that combined subsidies with intensive, wrap-around services. If we applied to social policy the standards the Food and Drug Administration uses for clearing new medications or procedures, many programs might be labeled quack elixirs or be denied licenses altogether.

One long-time social services practitioner and political progressive, Mauricio Miller, has owned up to this challenge. The role of FII staff is to monitor the efforts of participating families as they seek self-sufficiency through starting businesses, purchasing homes or investing in education, and facilitating the sharing of successes among participating families and communities. The staff then encourage outside investment in those families who demonstrate initiative.

Unintentionally, his approach is Smithian to its core: build individuals and families, neighborhoods and communities from the bottom up and from the inside out by reviving positive models of human sociability and relying on self-help and mutuality, with doses of capital from angel investors, to expand and accelerate progress.

This is a model that should appeal across the conservative spectrum and provide a rallying point for social reform that would begin moving us beyond Great Society paternalism. In complex systems, we cannot be sure of the outcomes of any proposed change. I also believe that locally designed and implemented programs close to the populations they serve can make a significant difference. My proposed conservative-libertarian synthesis would simultaneously take seriously the down-stream poverty consequences of disrupted social formation and encourage humility about what can and should be done to try to address it.

A first step in operationalizing this understanding would be to require that all social policy interventions be examined through the lens of the sympathetic and impartial spectator process. Second, such analyses should be used to design alternative anti-poverty interventions that leverage personal agency and responsibility as a key program element.

Finally, these alternative approaches should be evaluated rigorously alongside existing programs. I would also be willing to be bound by the results of rigorous evaluations of differing program models. Would you? About the Author. The erroneous notion that private morality and public morality can serve in opposition to one another and are not complementary, has led to grievous error in both Faith and reason.

One cannot overlook the destructive role that abortion has played in the break down of the family or the failure of the Federal Government to implement a welfare program that served to keep families intact, rather than offering incentives for single parent households. This makes me think of The Truman Show. Or perhaps Hunger Games , wherein Haymitch advises Katniss and Peeta that they should feign focusing on combat, but really focus on doing whatever will attract the sympathy of sponsors, who will be constantly watching their struggles.

A person WITHIN FII might be better off announcing an ambition to start a business, become a brain surgeon, or do whatever you imagine will speak to the psychological ambitions of the donor class. If FII creates an artificial incentive for people to be conspicuously ambitious, well, there are worse incentives. Interesting thought. The main point of FII is that the poor are undervalued — as a resource and in their resourcefulness.

It is really an effort to restart agency among people who have had it wrung out of them by state intervention. As a self-professed libertarian, I am skeptical that the concept of sympathy is capable of carrying the freight that Mr. Orrell seeks to load upon it.

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In my view, sympathy is a natural component of socializing instincts and behaviors that facilitate the ability of people to live among one another. Sympathy has many of the attributes of an emotion, and like most emotions, is a poor counselor, at a marked disadvantage compared to reason. Consider the following legal principles and operational realities of international law to appreciate the complete inadequacy of the claim of international protection of human rights: — Customary international law is made through general and consistent practice of states out of a sense of legal obligation, which is extremely difficult to prove for affirmative human rights norms among all states, and impossible for states which refuse to abide by the norm in question.

General state practice out of a sense of legal obligation in support of freedom of speech is impossible to find for a state which prefers to impose strict limitations on this human right. In short, states cannot be compelled to assume international obligations to protect human rights even of their own citizens, and cannot be coerced into discharging whatever human rights obligations they have assumed under customary international law or treaties.

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Confronted with the profound inadequacy of international law for the enforcement of human rights through international law, major Western powers have resumed their old colonial practices under the guise of so-called humanitarian intervention. This aggressive imperial conduct not only violates fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations as a universally ratified constitutional treaty, but in fact repudiates the idea of the rule of law in international relations. In practice, moreover, such reckless and irresponsible behavior is incapable of achieving sustainable protection of human rights for the vast majority of the population on the ground.

The intervening powers cannot stay long enough to transform the political and legal institutions of the state, and their conduct cannot inspire the confidence and cooperation of local populations. In Afghanistan, for instance, American administration personnel and troops do not speak native languages or have any cultural competency to interact with the general population: they cannot live with Afghan families at home to protect their women against their men, accompany girls back and forth to schools.

It is not surprising therefore that pretensions of humanitarian intervention have totally and consistently failed in every single instance it was alleged. The only success such savage behavior of the major Western powers can hope to achieve is to irredeemably associate human rights with historical colonialism and current imperial aggression. I opened this lecture with a strong claim about the universality of human rights in terms of the concept, content and context of these rights.

As the rights of all human beings everywhere, human rights are necessarily universal as a matter of concept , but the universality of the content of the concept, i. The premise of the self-determination of every human subject of these rights everywhere requires the active role of all human beings in implementing these rights for themselves in their own context. I also posited the categorical claim that the human rights paradigm cannot exist at all except in terms of the dynamics of globally inclusive concept and content, as realized by the human subject in local context.

Whatever is done by other means may be good policy for protecting individual rights and promoting social justice for some people as citizens of a particular state and within the territorial jurisdiction of that state. But none of that can achieve the fundamental self-liberation human beings can realize and sustain for themselves through the human rights paradigm.

As emphasized earlier, the significant difference is that constitutional rights at the national level are due only to the citizens of the particular state, whereas human rights are due to all human beings everywhere. Human rights treaties and institutions that have evolved since seek to implement the universality of human rights, but they can only do so through national systems. Unfortunately, enforcement of human rights through international law is unworkable either, as explained in the preceding section.

This brings me to the final step in my analysis, namely, the search for alternative strategies for the protection of human rights. The alternative I am proposing would first acknowledge and affirm any form or degree of protection of human rights that can be achieved by any means, including international enforcement to the extent it can work. Second, the approach I am proposing of cultural transformation and political mobilization is already working with whatever approach we use.

To enhance the desirability of the proposed emphasis on non-enforcement methods, we need to highlight its limitations or inhibiting factors, especially what I call the dual paradox of the human rights paradigm. The first paradox is that, while it is imperative to uphold and protect human rights throughout the world, the universality of these rights cannot be assumed nor simply proclaimed.


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Since all human societies adhere to their own normative systems, which are necessarily shaped by their particular context and experiences, any universal concept is by definition a construct or hypothesis that cannot be simply proclaimed or taken as given. Human beings know and experience the world as themselves, men or women, African or European, Christian, Muslim or Hindu, rich or poor. The consciousness, values and behavior of human beings everywhere are partly shaped by their local cultural and religious traditions.

The quality of being a universal norm can therefore only be achieved through a global consensus-building process, and neither assumed nor imposed through the hegemony of universalizing claims from one relativist perspective or another. As I have argued elsewhere, 29 this paradox can and should be mediated and negotiated through practice over time, rather than expected to be resolved once and for all.


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The notion of mediation is used here to emphasize that the tension remains, while the idea of negotiation indicates the multiplicity of authorship and contributions from a variety of perspectives. The underlying principle of equality and non-discrimination includes the right to be different, as people do not abandon their distinctive identity and religious or philosophical beliefs in order to qualify for human rights, but claim these rights as the persons they are and through their own experiences. To avoid misunderstanding, my purpose in raising this challenge is to affirm and realize the universality of human rights, as a practical principle of policy for all societies, rather than questioning its paramount importance.

The tension between the universality of human rights and citizenship stems from their complex relationship with the European model of the territorial state with exclusive sovereignty and jurisdiction which came to prevail throughout the world through colonialism. Universal human rights are legally binding on states because they are provided for in treaties under international law, yet these obligations are supposed to be implemented by sovereign states within their own exclusive territorial jurisdiction.

As a framework for international cooperation in the protection of human rights, the present system also relies on the willingness of states to hold each other accountable for their human rights failures, often at some economic, political, security or other risk to their own national interests. This paradox is real because the violation or protection of human rights necessarily happens within the geographical and legal jurisdiction of one state or another, yet the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state preclude external intervention to protect human rights without the consent and cooperation of the state itself.

Moreover, since pressure by external actors is difficult to sustain, and is often counter-productive, it is ultimately up to citizens to hold officials of the state accountable for any violation that may occur. It is also citizens who can ensure the adoption of appropriate policies and provision of necessary resources by the state for broader implementation of human rights norms.

The ultimate measure of success is for human rights to be routinely respected and protected in the first place, as well as ensuring that effective accountability immediately follows whenever a violation occurs.

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