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Re: Re: NGOs and the Indulgence Racket (was re: Compulsory licenses andaccess to essential medicines NGO-sponsored meeting in Geneva, March 26,1999)
>The point of these discussions is to try to persuade some poor countries to
>*continue* *to* *enforce* US-style intellectual property law. Faced with
>real disease and expensive drugs people will manufacture those drugs
>themselves if they can. The discussions are a face-saving fudge - a way
>allowing these people to seem to be following the rules while actually they
>are breaking them.
Precisely, wellcome to realpolitic.
Folk in the Third world tend to view the West as having a somewhat
self serving view of property, whats ours is ours and whats yours is
ours as well.
For the past fourty odd years the West has proped up dictators in
the third world with massive subsidies and loans - much of which
was stolen by said dictators (Marcos, Pinochet, Noriega, Saddam
to name but a few Western proteges). Now we expect the loans
to be repaid by the people who were oppressed by the dictators
We can indulge in foot stamping demands for our 'rights' as much
as we like. It is a pointless waste of time. Recognise the fact that
over the world we have ignored their 'rights' to our profit and there
is a substantial debt in favour of the Third world.
Finally, no rights are not axioms from which ethical theories are
derrived. Rights are theories which are justified in terms of ethical
theories - at least according to Kant, Mills, Russell, Singer and
practically every other significant philosopher who wrote about ethics.
Arguments about 'rights' tend in fact to be arguments over rites.
You don't win any argument by simply asserting your conclusion.
The communicative value of asserting a right is zero, either the
respondant accepts the right anyway in which case the argument
is superfluous or the respondant did not accept that the right
A few years back Strom Thurmond was vigorously asserting the
'right' of white people to exclude black children from schools.
Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement asserted the
'right' to attend but justified it in terms of the principle of equal
treatment - what Kantians would recognise as the categorical
imperative. Universalism and Utilitarianism both lead to the
conclusion that equality of treatment before the law is right, but
this is a conclusion and not an axiom.
It is not difficult to argue the points made in most libertarian
flamage on the basis of principles rather than by the assertion
of the conclusion. Why advertise the fact that your opinions
are unexamined by merely asserting your conclusions as 'rights'?
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