Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Step by Step to the Universal Law and Human Rights

As established in class today, although India, the Middle East and China were significantly ahead of Europe both technologically and politically throughout the time period from 1000-1500, all three had situations that prevented them from expanding both their empires as well as their concepts about law and human rights throughout the world.

Into that void steps the major underdog that was Europe. Through a series of remarkable events, Europe comes to dominate world trade and influence the worldwide concept of human rights and, to a lesser extent, law itself. Let’s break this down, step-by-step:

1. Feudalism begins to die
-As people become more mobile and begin to trade with others around the world, they see opportunities to make a better life. The average peasant starts to realize that there’s more to life than farming all day for no money and eating dirt every night.

2. Money begins to flow into Europe, and the Bourgeoisie is Born
-As Europe begins to see money flow into it (once China shuts out everyone, it had to go somewhere), individuals start building up bigger bank accounts. Peasants have more opportunity to make money and become part of a higher class: the middle class, also known as the Bourgeoisie. The middle class has two things working for it that the peasants did not: money and time. They have the money to afford a decent life, and the time (because they don’t have to work 24 hours a day) to think about why they don’t have a voice in government simply because they’re not related to a noble. More importantly, they have the time to do something about it.

3. European Governments Start Funding Exploration Throughout the World.-Say what you want about the European kings, but each one was in a pretty desperate competition with his neighbor kings to gain or keep his power. Thus, when the opportunity arose to explore other areas of the world in the hopes of making huge amounts of money, many of them jumped on it. And who was there to take the risk of exploration and split the money made with the kings? Poor folks who were itching to get into the middle class.

4. With Time and Money, the Bourgeoisie Get Restless
-This new middle class had time to spend talking with their bourgeoisie friends about how they had money, they had intelligence, yet they didn’t have any power. As more and more of them came to realize this, a few men decided it would be a good idea to write some of these things down: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were three guys who decided that it would be a good idea to write out all the things that people like them deserved just because they were born human. Thus, a somewhat universal concept of human rights is born. These books are read by thousands of people through Europe (thank you, printing press), and people begin to want action. Its no wonder why the French Revolution (and their Declaration of the Rights of Man) isn’t far off.

5. Don’t Forget About Those Colonies
-At the same time, European kings have sponsored hundreds of trips to places all around the world in the name of making a little cash for the kingdom. The Europeans who are in these areas get hold of the writings of guys like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, buy into them and discuss them with the native peoples in the lands they’re not inhabiting. The people in these native lands (America, Africa, India, Asia) think these ideas aren’t so bad either, and the beginnings of a universal concept of human rights and law has begun.

So, in five steps, the world has gone from “Europe as punching bag” to “Europe as legal center.” This bridges the gap between the legal codes present throughout the ancient world to the legal codes, beliefs, and controversies present in the modern world. However, its important to remember that this progress opens up a whole new set of controversies for the modern world in regard to the law and its place in the world.


Jesse said...

Just a comment but, at least I, can see how Europe really was looked up to in a way as a model for many countries. As Mr. Moran said in the description, Europe really was the "punching bag" for developing and thriving nations. The United States, as much of a grave it has dug itself, really was the next generation of the model that many other countries looked up to. I believe that America has been that model ever since the French modeled their Declaration of Rights for Man and Citizen, in 1789.

aon hasnain said...

Jesse you are quite the genius for thinking of this. If only you could be this smart in english class. But I agree with you about the facts that America took the ideas from countries like France and England and used them for our own benefits. Before, England and France were the major nations of the world, and this was because there was a fixed set of laws established for their society. Also like what Jesse said about Europe being the punching bag, i think this means that since Europe was of the first places where a universal set of laws was established, so as a result countries used them as an example for how to write their laws. And since America did this to perfection, showing this off with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. BUT, America would not be anywhere near the country it is today without the technological advancements it gained from China. I mean how many of us go through a day without using paper. We are in school and we take notes and do homework on paper so our lives would be very difficult if paper was not around. I mean hell, you wants to do their homework by inscribing the words into stone, which takes a long time and is not efficient. In conclusion, America was the final step towards universal law and would not be anywhere without Francea and England, and also the technological advancements from China

Katie Struve said...

It is just like the roman empire though how big can europe and america get before they crash and finally it is the Eastern countries turn again?

Jesse said...

So true Aon about China. As far as our problem with english, I will try not to dissapoint you.

aon hasnain said...

thank you jesse, we both need to work on english but whatever. And i just want to point this out again that without China, America would not nearly be as powerful and succesful today if not for China. I know when J-Milgrom will read this he will go awol on me but its true. Yes, America got its society figured out by the documents of Europe, but our power and out intellect are that of China.

Jesse said...

Aon, personally, I believe that America really took advantage of China, rather than gain power form them. They had sweatshops and they still use China to import many, many things that can be sold for an enormous profit. So really, I believe that America developed from the western Europe, but then later used their new "knowledge" to really pursue their chance to take advantage. Now that I think about it, old China is really what America is today, before all the modern stuff started to happen (i.e. war, economy decline, the whole shabang). u catch ma drift aonie?

Cole "Injured foot" Slaw said...

I will go awol on you but tomorrow, i am in so much pain and just returned from the hospital and is very very sleepy, so i am warning you guys... HERE COMES THE SLAW!

ColeSlaw said...

Well Aon, i agree. See with China being strong and then retreating like they did, you no like not accepting any other cultures, not funding expeditions, and such made them be able to advance because they weren't affriad of people saying what about them or them...So with that being said, it is more so that china gave an indirect connection with America...Well now like today it plays a big part with economical trade and so on, but i was saying more in a general sense of the beginning. The reason why i say it is a indirect help with america is because America sort of took ideas from england to build their society. However, Europe at a time where technologically slower then Asia, however were able to induct some culture, and then europe used that to become stronger and use their failures to their advantages. I think that stands true for all of the powers in the east and that the west picked that up. Therefore, since america was so influenced by Europe and england and their laws, rights, systems, government, and so on, you see that old chinese and etc places factor in to America's culture, however indirectly. more like second generation right? =P


Alright to human rights
Lets discuss

1. America being a role model....sort of. You are right Jesse that America at times has definately been a source of leadership, but as time progresses i feel as if we have already begun taking a step backward in this area. Republicans in power are creating wars based on fear more than intellect. If you look at Gitmo, the reason that none of these detainees are being tried is most likely because we don't have enough info to hold them, but we do have enough info to fear them.

2. America is essentially built up of immigrants from around the world. The only true Americans are the Native Americans. The settlers that created the constitution and set up a society are all technically british immigrants. Naturally, we assume the laws of europeans.

3. Our power and intellect come from the United States. Sure there are smart asians in the U.S, but china does not control our intellect and power. Our intellect is our own.

4. whats wrong with inscribing things on stone? It sounds like a blast!!

5. Wow China must really be great! Without them we would be nothing! Err no. China according to the UN is still considered as a developing nation. The US is considered a deverloped nation. China is great and all, but i don't think we can just thank them for this lovely grammy.

6. Im not sure the US actually takes adv of China. I feel that it is more like the US being redonkulously rich and China wanting to get in on the action badly enough to open sweatshops.

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