Re: family and development

Bjorn Conrad Fry (bear@USNET.US.NET)
Mon, 5 Dec 1994 01:30:55 -0500

Jim Eighmey wrote:

> Please forgive my intrusion, as I have not followed your exchange
>closely. However, I am rather intriged by your (well composed) last posting.
>In the spirit of good coversation perhaps it would not be too forward to
>engage you on the point concerning the concepts of "justice" and "rights".
>Do I understand you to believe that these are immutable constants that
>have their origin in the individual?

That's a good question. Immutable? Well, basically yes... (come up with a
plausable counter, and I'll give it due consideration) You know, the golden
rule, equity in treatment, reasoned and unqualified fairness, honorable and
fair in dealings and actions, due reward or treatment, moral rightness with
consistency, ... upright before God or the Creator, rightous, if you will
Faith is implied here, however, it is the ancient reasoned wisdom upon
which religion rests that I am referring to.

Lani Guinier is at the very time of this writing
speaking of -- "collective" voting, as apposed to
"individualized" voting (what we for the most
part have now). This is a prerecorded
C-SPAN2 broadcast from the National
Press Club. She obviously
believes that the
rights of the
superceded by someones notion of collective or group rights. Whose notion?

A right is nothing more than what is in accordance with or conformable to
justice. With respect to the individual, I can simply state, that only the
individual can legitimately be held responsible for the degree to which his
or her actions are just. A collective or group can not. The individuals
that make up that group can always plausably deny direct, or even collusive
responsibility for their actions. Unfortunately, all too often, this
becomes just enough of a cover, or shield, to encourage the perpetration of
just about every conceivable type of transgression against individuals and
or groups by some societal body in authority. But, this is getting away
from the topic at hand.

>If so, where might we construe their origin?

Could it possibly be where monotheistic faith emerged from millennia of
experience, reason and wisdom? You're the anthropologist! ;-)

The nuclear family, made possible by sufficient excess capacity,
decentralized economic opportunity resulting in competing islands of
modernity, improved lines of communications, the possibility of upward
social mobility, "cooperative" capitalistic tendencies, empowering
religious competition, concepts of nationhood, and moderate to high
relative propensity to change, etc., etc., couldn't possibly have had
anything to do with it. Aren't direct offspring the only natural extension
of the individual?

>Conversely, if they reside in the collective, then by what vehicle
>would we expect such concepts to be shared between groups separated by time
>and space?

The collective unit or group, the clan, the tribe, the extended family made
necessary by a relative lack of excess capacity, limited and centralized or
isolated insular economic opportunity, poor or nonexistant social mobility,
patterns of preditory (exploitative) and or monopolistic market activity,
lack of religious diversity and or tolerance, poor histories of equitable
reciprocal treatment both inside and outside group spheres, higher tendency
towards self sacrifice for the collective faith, group and or family ...,
higher concentration on the afterlife, patters of guilt associated with
success, high levels of intergroup mistrust and a general lack of
organizational cooperation ... etc. ... etc.

The question once again is, "What came first the chicken or the egg?"

What price the collective over the individual though? Development? Justice?
Underclass status? Psychological dependency? Authoritarian subordination of
groups and individual self realization? A fair meritocracy? No price? You

>The concept of "human rights" obviously implies there could be
>such a thing independant of circumstance, and "individual rights" implies
>the same principle. How could this be? Not an unimportant topic it would
>seem. I would be interested in your thoughts.

I am not fully aware if all "Developed" nations or societies (or ones
considered prosperous) place a high premium on the liberation of individual
potential. It does seem, though, that there is at least a strong propensity
towards it, that runs deep in the Developed World. It might not even be
unwise to postulate that individual rights and social liberation are a
prerequisite for the type of creativity, initiative and success that many
of us have taken for granted in the First World.

Why are individual rights considered so threatening? Is it the transition
to empowerment through rational autonomy and individual responsibility from
the pacifying subordination, of the same, to collective emotional
dependency and authoritarian manipulation? When does rational freedom begin
and emotional slavery end? Where do the greatest population wealth
distribution differentials exist, in the First or Third World? ... in
collectivist societies or in societies that, for the most part, hold the
rights of the individual to be inalienable?

Are you suggesting that the term "human rights" is really a code word for
"collective rights?"

> Sincerely
>Jim Eighmey
>Department of Anthropology >>>---------->
>Arizona State University
>Tempe, AZ. 85287-2402


Your thoughtful contribution is appreciated.
Any and all comments are welcome.


Bjorn Conrad Fry
Bethesda, Md.