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Who appoints the international community?

I’ve argued in the past, that institutions such as the British Museum are being excessively presumptuous [1] in their attempts to put themselves in the role of Universal Museum [2] for the whole world – in effect, deciding what is best for everyone else.

This article looks at that issue & beyond it, to the way in which the international community is lead by a relatively small group of western nations, acting generally on what is best for them, rather than what is best for all parties involved in the discussion.

Daily News (Sri Lanka) [3]

Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Who appoints the ‘International Community?’
S. Pathiravitana

There was a time when newspapers used to have the figure of a man wearing a hat on his head which resembled the earth’s globe and was meant to signify World Opinion. This figure has now disappeared and newspapers refer instead to an ‘international community.’

Unlike the earlier figure which readily made you think of world opinion, the phrase which has replaced it restricts itself to an ‘international community.’

Who appointed this body is not clear; if it was by democratic will, as usually happens in democracies, then, the United Nations would have been the appropriate body to do it. According to an American source – the Wikipedia,

“It has been claimed that the superpower nations… use the term to describe organisations in which they play a predominant role, regardless of the opinion of other nations.”

From which we may conclude that this ‘international community’ is an exclusive body which has set itself apart quite arbitrarily from the rest of humanity in passing judgements on the rest of us.

Let us see whether we may, at the least, award any character certificates to the members of this self-appointed community. In the first place this body is represented by countries which are predominantly European.

And nearly all of them have exercised colonial power in one way or another. The countries they colonised got their liberation only recently but they have been treated since then as poor relations. Hence they have been left out of this self-elected body called the international community.

A good example of the way they act is the case of Iran. Some leaders of Western countries have been quoting the ‘international community’ on what Iran is doing about its own nuclear programme.

They say, “Iran is defying the will of the international community by continuing uranium enrichment.” How dare, this poor relation, do this to the international community! If you take the United Nations which represents 193 countries, which is nearly the whole world, a 122 of this total have said that they see nothing wrong with what Iran is doing.

While well over 60 per cent of the world body has endorsed Iran’s action, we can see where the ‘international community’ stands when it comes to a count in the democratic vote. We were given to think once, that only the Soviet Union that was, could do this and get away with it.

What all this shows is that members of this ‘international community’ who were once ruling over ‘subject races’ have not forgotten their old iron-fisted ways. Behind this facade of acting as a brains trust for the rest of the world, the motive is clear, to guide and lead us to eat out of their hands as we once did when we were categorised as ‘subject races.

‘ That past may be recalled for just a moment. Let’s get back to the practical minded Robert Knox and hear what he said about our country in his own style of speech and spellings.

‘Thus plentifully has Nature stored this Island that they neither need nor have many manual operations, except making tools to till the ground to sow Cotton for Clothing and for rice; for they reach not for more than food and raiment and drink the water of the brooks.

Thus with these natural helps they live with little labour; having less riches and Care than we in England, but are healthful, Cheerful and Careless and so live with their wives and children well worned out with old age.

‘Thus they eat to live (not for wantonness) and live to eat, for they use not sports for recreations when grown up, but their Chief diversion is to sit and talk with their friends and neighbours.

‘This kind of life have I had many years experience of having but little and wanting less – I mean such things as are absolutely necessary for man’s subsistence – and so could very well have Continued myself to have Continued…’

That was the kind of life that we had before one of the current members of our ‘international community’ took over our land and instead of letting this happy state of affairs continue substituted a way of life where we live only to eat in what is called the consumer society.

That was not all the damage it did. Our national treasures were removed to stuff their museums with, not to educate their people on the different ways of living, but how ‘backward and strange’ their subject races were. Somewhere around the Seventies India realised the danger to her national treasures and passed an Act preventing their removal.

That, however, was like locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. Nonetheless the list of items that may not be removed from India is revealing.

The banned items were jewellery, furniture, arms and armour, metals, coins, ivory, wood, paper, palm leaves, metals, terracotta, stone, manuscripts in all media, paintings and sculpture. The Koh-i-Noor, India’s prized diamond, removed to Britain as booty still remains there despite India’s plea to return it.

This report roused the interest of a columnist on the Daily News at that time who made the following comment, so very revealing in many ways of how even the House of Lords in its own supercilious way react to the ways of their subject races:

The columnist says that “Collectors of these items are now being looked upon as thieves, which may not be a bad thing, because there is something essentially barbarous in the removal of objects from people who look upon them as being sacred if not their soul.

The British, I am sorry to note, have a particularly distasteful record in this field, their empire being larger and wider than anything else before. Even the heirs of the empire builders in Britain today, should be aghast at the horrors perpetrated by their civilised ancestors.

“Theft by them was one thing, but the destruction of things of beauty like the Porcelain Pagoda in Nanking and the burning down of the Summer Palace in Peking under Lord Elgin’s personal direction must be regarded as the high water mark of savagery.

“The British House of Lords sometime ago, echoed with peals of laughter or should I say hoots of delight or was it savage glee, when the question of returning the Regalia of the Ashanti in Ghana was raised.

Lord Goronway-Roberts replying to the question raised said how the British Government had absolutely nothing to do with the objects of the British Museum or at the Wallace Collection, neither of which, he was quick to point out, may legally dispose of these exhibits.

But why not a law to release these objects? inquired Lord Montagu, to which Lord Goronway-Roberts replied that he could not promise such a thing nor could he advise that they should do so.

“Perhaps the consequences of such a law were to be feared because, as Lady Lee pointed out, ‘When it comes to returning booty from this country we should tread warily because it may turn into a strip tease.’

At which point the report goes the Lords guffawed heartily. For Lord Goronway-Roberts it must be said that he put on a brave stand, as brave as the British soldiers who were killed by the King of Ashanti ‘in horrible conditions in that part of the world.’ And on whose behalf the Ashanti Regalia was taken as part of an ‘indemnity’ agreed to by the defeated king so that the dependants of those killed could be compensated.

Lord Goronway-Roberts was not actually putting his handkerchief to his streaming eyes when he said that he sympathised with the motivation of the question that had been raised, but if it was to promote good Commonwealth relations returning the regalia was not the best way to do it.

It was at this point that the laughter rose once more when someone asked whether it was possible to keep the booty in Britain and return the soul of the Ashanti people (which reposed in the footstool of the regalia) to Ghana.”

And to end this note, here’s a testimonial from a respected European philosopher of recent times, Frithjof Schuon, on the doings of the kind of people now sitting in judgment in the ‘international; community.’

“Apologists for the White invasion and its consequences” says Schuon, “are only too ready to argue that all people in all ages have committed acts of violence; violence, yes; but not necessarily acts of baseness, perpetrated, what is more in the name of liberty, equality, fraternity, civilisation, progress and the ‘rights of man.’ The conscious, calculated, methodical, official and by no means anonymous destruction of the Red race, its traditions and culture, in North America and partly also in South America, far from having been an unavoidable process – and as such, possibly excusable in the name of natural laws, provided one does not oneself claim to have outgrown these laws thanks to ‘civilisation’ – this destruction it must be said, certainly remains one of the greatest crimes and most noted vandalisms of all human history.”

Such an observation makes me wonder, who should be really sitting in international judgments and over whom?