Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Run! The Stateless are coming!!


“Before this, what we must call a ‘human right’ today would have been thought of as a general characteristic of the human condition which no tyrant could take away” (Arendt 297). Aristotle thought of those people part of a political community as “political animals” (297). But what happens when the political is taken out of the term “political animal.” Those once considered “political animals” just become animals or what equivalent to a “savage” or stateless person who attains human rights by nature. Arendt presents a valid argument on the existence of human rights. It is hard to believe that a slave and a criminal in political society have more rights than an innocent refugee who abandons their nationality for their basic rights. Arendt brings about an interesting conclusion to the idea of the growth of a stateless people when she states “their ever-increasing numbers threaten our political life [and] our human artifice [similar to the way] wild elements of nature once threatened the existence of man-made cities and countrysides” (302).
If the stateless people one day grow to have a population almost as large as the amount in civil society, should civil society take those “just humans” back so that civilized society does not face any danger from the stateless community?
If yes, civilized society would be admitting the “savages” that were let go in the first place. It beats having a confrontation with the stateless society. Also, where do the stateless people go to live? They no longer have right to land or a nation to call home.
Would they live a life of travel like the gypsies who are constantly migrating or live somewhat like the Native Americans who have specific land granted to them by the government?

12 comments:

Ajten Ajvazoska said...

Interesting question Vonmarie! Looking back in history, "Gypsies" like the Jews were stripped away from their identity. They had no rights and were also killed in the holocaust becuase they weren't considered humans. According to the Declaration of Human rights, you need to be recognized by the state in order to be protected. However, Arendt is stating that all people have these rights only if they govern themselves and don't allow someone else to take control. Going back to the issue of the "Gypsy," these people did not have these rights regardless of what Ardent believes or the Declaration of Human Rights says. They weren't recognized by the state nor were they capable of governing themselves. Therefore, they were left stateless without an identity. Who are we to call these people savages when they had the characteristics of human beings in the first place? Those who still do not have these rights, will remain stateless and unknown to the world. They will be cast from society as if they don't exist. To answer your question, I do believe that they will live the travel life, but although they live in these different states, they will not be respected nor will they be recognized . They will not have the rights that the others have within that same state.

melaniewhite said...

I'd have to agree that a state-less population would live a nomadic lifestyle and have relatively no claim to human rights. However such a situation points out the flaws in The UN Declaration of Human Rights. Arendt points out that human rights should not be based upon the law and yet the only way to declare one's rights is through the use of law. That being the case, is it right that we just cast aside large groups of humanity due to their lack of homeland? I can't accept that.
There is a very interesting group of people called the Hmongs. Historically, this group has never had a homeland and yet their culture is rich with tradition and history. Large groups of the Hmong people began moving to the United States in the 70's and 80's due to warfare in Asian countries and so they have been forced to abandon many of their traditions in order to attain the human rights they deserve in America (or anywhere). Why is it that we say that all people should have these rights indefinitely, but we give them with an ultimatum? Even stateless people can have rights, but they must give up everything that makes them the human beings that they are.

Samantha Heyman said...

Arendt’s work does raise important issues about human rights. Arendt noted that the Nazis started by taking away Jews’ legal status and “herding them into ghettos and concentration camps” (296). Loss of legal status should not dictate human rights. Human rights need to be for all individuals, regardless of citizenship, and be a universal right. Arendt’s statement about the “rights to have rights” is a powerful statement because it recognizes that importance of the right to action, opinion, and being part of a political community.

Kellie Lyver said...

A universal set of human rights needed to be made during this time. It is completely unfair for people who are criminals to be treated more fairly than those people who have fled their own land. Human rights needed to be established so that all people can enjoy them and not be stripped of their citizenship. If people move from one nation to another, they should be accepted into the new area. While being accepted these people should also experience the same basic rights they had previously experienced. Everyone needs to be granted the basic human rights as part of being a citizen.

Alana Biagioli said...

A major point that intrigues me in Hannah Arendt’s Perplexities of Rights of Man is the ideas of civil rights and human rights. Vonmarie touches upon these points very precisely. Human rights are inalienable, which means they can’t be separated from an individual person. Human rights are not dependant or based on law; they always precede the law. It is true that if you lose your civil rights you lose your human rights. This reflects the point that prisoners or criminals have more rights than stateless people, which is a very debatable topic and many believe that is unfair.

Sean Cantwell said...

After completing Hannah Arendt's Perplexities of Rights of Man, I discovered new ideas about the situation between human rights and civil rights. The original intention was that human rights would precede civil rights; however, as we see it today, laws are based on the rights of man. Civil rights are established by law, which human rights are not based on. Since civil rights are the basis of human rights, does a man lose all his rights if he is made stateless? Arendt points out that man still has his human rights, but they are of no value because he is not apart of a society. Man is also excluded from any other country because if he has no rights in his own, he will have none in another because there is nothing to base foreign law upon. Therefore, man most likely would be nomadic, living a solitary and meaningless life.

Cala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cala said...

I think that it is unrealistic to say that human rights can not be taken away. Depending on your definition of human rights, politics and government can always take away certain rights. This is more apparent now that we are learning that some people are not even considered to have rights at all, like refugees. Like, Vonmarie, i have to ask - why is this the case? Refugees have really done nothing wrong. Ironically, they are just pursueing their basic human rights. Criminals, on the other hand, have in fact done something wrong and they have more rights than refugees. This forces us to question this whole system, and what it really means to have rights. Also, like vonmarie questioned, where will all of these refugees go? It is inevitable that people will continue to flee their countries, so will they just wander the world or continue to live in a state or country with no rights?

Jane Tsui said...

I think that the fact that criminals gets more “rights” than the innocent show badly we have alienated people from societies without even realizing it. The “stateless people” threaten the civilized world because their presence shows how our society has failed to shelter their “inalienable rights”. Since Arendt believes it’s the loss of a polity (form of government) is what causes people to no longer be a part of humanity, I think she would advocate making the world into a place where everyone would be a part of a community, so there wouldn’t be any governments challenging authority and everyone would have rights that are protected and ensured, although I think that would raise the question of whether she values having rights over having the freedom to not be a part of a group. Another issue is whether the stateless choose to be stateless (since chances are they weren’t raised the same way we were and thus have different values).

julian saad said...

Arendt's argument is completely true. She poses an argument against the declaration of the rights of man. the Declaration says that the rights of man should be given to all equal men. They are to be inalienable and regardless of government these rights could no be stripped of the individual. Arendt identifies that this is not the case. These rights can be stripped of the man. This can happen when man is stateless. Because he ios stateless man does not have civil rights. Thus he does not have human rights. Without a government no one can protect the rights of the man. Only when a man has an authority to back his human rights as well as protect those rights, is he respected completely as a human.

julian saad said...

Arendt's argument is completely true. She poses an argument against the declaration of the rights of man. the Declaration says that the rights of man should be given to all equal men. They are to be inalienable and regardless of government these rights could no be stripped of the individual. Arendt identifies that this is not the case. These rights can be stripped of the man. This can happen when man is stateless. Because he ios stateless man does not have civil rights. Thus he does not have human rights. Without a government no one can protect the rights of the man. Only when a man has an authority to back his human rights as well as protect those rights, is he respected completely as a human.

Carolina said...

I like where you’re going with these questions Vonamrie. After being stripped from there political rights, the stateless continue to live their lives. The intriguing question is, what happens when the population of the stateless increases? I believe that no matter how much their population was to increase they would still be less powerful than the people protected by law. The civil people would have more access to gun powder where as the stateless would depend on their own abilities. I think it is unjust to strip these people from all political protection because once all you know to do is limited to your society it is difficult to pick up a new path to follow. The stateless suffer segregation from almost every society making it impossible for them to regain representation in their society let along any other society. I think their lifestyle would be half gypsy and half native. Native to the natural habitat and easily being able to adapt to the lifestyle available to them; but like the gypsies the will need to adjust to migration because no government and will support them with a land to live on.