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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5771/let-cultures-play-out-their-own-problems/

Let Cultures Play Out Their Own Problems

October 19, 2006 by

What if a culture is intractably attached to institutions and practices that are contrary to human rights and dignity? Can the state assist in creating the conditions that support a modernized understanding of freedom? Jayant Bhandari argues that it cannot. It cannot stop people from starving themselves or throwing themselves on funeral pyres. It can’t stop dowries. It can only get out of the way and permit cultural evolution to take place. FULL ARTICLE

{ 10 comments }

TGGP October 19, 2006 at 9:57 am

By all accounts I’ve heard the British were very effective in eliminating the cultural practice of sati by employing their cultural practice of hanging.

I know we’re not supposed to trust Commentary because it’s run by those evil neo-cons or whatever, but I found this review of Ghandi, with a very critical look at various aspects of Indian culture, to be quite funny. The author seems to be attempting to make a serious point about history and hagiography, but you can’t expect people not to chuckle when you keep going on about enemas, although apparently that is just what Ghandi did.

David Spellman October 19, 2006 at 11:14 am

I have heard that Sati is not always voluntary and that sometimes relatives help the widow onto the funeral pyre to avoid having to take care of her. Doesn’t sound too libertarian.

Nevertheless, I don’t consider it my business to fix other cultures. Liquidating unwanted human lives has been pervasive in history. Because I don’t agree with killing people who don’t agree with me, I am hesitant to kill people who do things I don’t agree with.

Sounds circular, doesn’t it? But the contrapositive makes sense to a lot of people killing those they find unacceptable.

billwald October 19, 2006 at 11:27 am

And the Americab sub-culture which I may not name? The one that is most always under consideration (never our Chinese, Japanese, Seikh, Korean, Viet Namese . . . minorities) when the press talks about “minority” problems? Does this analysis apply to them?

Som October 19, 2006 at 1:32 pm

David,

Even if some sati’s are involuntary for some, these women do reserve their right to “vote with their feet” by fleeing from their community., as long as the state does not interefere.

If did state did interefere, she would most likely have to stay around to be witness to her prosecution and probably end up killed by a community member or family member for the great “dishonor” she has committed.

Even if voting with her feet isn’t the ideal solution, it is the best solution for the cultural convictions at the time, since it will probably end up with the least amount of violence.

andrew duffin October 20, 2006 at 4:17 am

“In the age group of 15�65, India has 107 males for 100 females � meaning that for every 100 existing women, there are about 7 women who have disappeared without a trace.”

Actually you’re mistaken here.

Because of the generally higher mortality in males, such a ratio is entirely natural and expected.

Scott D October 20, 2006 at 7:34 am

Andrew, you’ve got it backwards. There are more males than females by a statistically significant margin. This would be accounted for by a higher female mortality rate and is not at all natural.

Sounak October 20, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Mr. Bhandari displays his (usual) ignorance of India and Indian culture in his writing. The practice of Sati remains (and was always) a very very rare occurence in India, and has no scriptural sanction. The whole issue about Sati was raised by the British as a means to show that the natives were unfit for self-government. Of course, this has been internalized by native Uncle Toms (such as Mr. Bhandari). For instance, no one suggests that wife-beating or insurance deaths in the West is due to the degrading effects of Christianity etc.
Regards
Sounak

Gary Stevens October 21, 2006 at 5:09 pm

What makes the standard for morality. Is it just culture? Does not morality have an absolute basis? Only then can one suppose to criticize the correctness of one practice over another. Before the 1960s even though black men were getting lynched by communities in our country, was it wrong to move for change so that would not happen? Sati and other practices were originally seen as wrong by Christian missionaries. When they were able to convince the English authorities that they should do what they could to stop it, laws were passed. Did that completely stop the practice? No, but it did lower the incidence further. I believe hinduism looks to a heaven of an impersonal nothingness. If that is the case why do we even try to help other humans. Only in Christianity is there the worth of all humans and the basis for caring for the wives who may commit sati or the people who might decide to starve themselves to death.

anon October 21, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Another theory as to the practice of “Sati”
http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate/women.html the following is a quote from the bottom of the page.

To enlighten the people who are ignorant about “Sati” Pratha in India, this custom was a result of Muslim oppression and brutality. The Hindu
women of India, in order to save their honour, used to jump into the fire after their husbands were brutally murdered by Muslim invaders. The question that arises from this is why did they jump into the fire and kill themselves? Why didn’t they just poison themselves? The reason for this is that the lecherous necrophiliac muslim invaders did not even leave the dead bodies alone. Yes, they had sex even with the dead bodies! How disappointing it must have been for them to find nothing, but ashes.

sceweerycle November 4, 2008 at 9:10 am

I don’t even know,fellow!) continued to write in the same vein, it is interesting people!

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