Friday, October 21, 2011

Editorial, "RIGHTS END WHERE HARM BEGINS," in the 15 October 2011 (Vol. 7, Pt. 2, No. 19) issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD

Truly, as attributed to the ‘Great Dissenter’ Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” Holmes was indeed greatly influenced by Zechariah Chafee, who in his “Freedom of Speech in war time(1919) had earlier clarified: “It is useless to define free speech by talk about rights. The agitator asserts his constitutional right to speak, the government asserts its constitutional right to wage war. The result is a deadlock. Each side takes the position of the man who was arrested for swinging his arms and hitting another in the nose, and asked the judge if he did not have a right to swing his arms in a free country. ‘Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins’. To find the boundary line of any right, we must get behind rules of law to human facts…” Also, “Liberty consists in being able to do everything which does not harm others(Declaration of Rights of Man, 1789). And even when Marx was criticizing it as a bourgeois negative right, he was not opting for absolute, uncontrollable rights but only indicating the greater importance of social obligations. So, beyond that ‘Lakshman Rekha’ we think freedom degenerates into license and calls for collective/state action to curb it. Of course when dealing with sensitive, sentimental mass movements the State and other groups have, no doubt, to mind caution and wisdom too, but that does not mean inaction and surrender to anarchy. It only indicates the need for all necessary measures to be taken step by step – sama, dana, bheda, dandopaya – force being the last resort. But force cannot be abjured altogether as there is also much worth in the axiom: “Dandam Dasagunam Bhavet.” We are very much concerned, and sad, at the various undesirable social conflicts raging in our country adversely affecting the basic rights of various sections of the society, and at times even amounting to the stupidity of “lifting the rock, only to drop it on one’s own feet.” Strikes, Bandhs, Hartals, etc. when conducted by the people voluntarily for just causes, and with due regard to the emergent needs, and also with due respect to the rights of dissenters to freely express their opinions, may be legitimate but not so are most of such phenomena in our country which are usually nothing but the result of ‘stone pelting by a few intimidating groups’. §§§

Editorial, "A DECADE OF TERROR," in the 30 September 2011 (Vol. 7, Pt. 2, No. 18) issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD

To say so may not be an inappropriate characterization of the ten years in world history since the 9/11 terrorist mayhem, perhaps the most gruesome one since the nuclear holocaust at Hiroshima/Nagasaki, at any rate the most macabre attack by a private international terrorist outfit to date. All Americans were shell-shocked, the world community was awe-struck and almost all the heads of states condemned it except perhaps Saddam Hussein of Iraq and thousands of Palestinians who danced in the streets to celebrate the attacks [news of such celebrations by fundamentalists reported also at many other places the world over]. The then American President Bush swiftly vowed revenge and designed plans to ‘fight against international terror’, declaring: “Those who are not with us are against us!” And he found solid support from the American masses at the time. What followed we all have witnessed and are still watching – an imperialist over-reaction, massacring the third world people in millions, and bit by bit, in the name of countering terrorism and decimating Al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist outfits which, curiously, owed their origin to the scheming of the CIA in their covert war in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. All the bombings and killings in Iraq alone are said to have exceeded even the World War II records for any single state. And in Afghanistan, though the US, allying with Pakistan, a rogue state, could overthrow the Taliban government, yet after ten years the Americans are far from totally overcoming the Talibans. Pakistan has become a terror hotbed – both a haven and a victim for all kinds of gory terrorists and though Obama succeeded in killing Bin Laden, his ghost still haunts America and the West as also India and other terrorist-stricken countries. All this indicates that mere state/international agencies’ counter-terror will not do to curb the menace of sundry varieties of terrorism all over the world but it needs the abolition of the basic inequities in the world socio-economic order and the end of all imperialist aggressions and neo-colonial collaborations for that purpose, as also to usher in human welfare oriented social systems all the world over §§§