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The Nobel Committee and Chinese values

11 December, 2010

According to the BBC, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee insisted yesterday — on the eve of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s award ceremony — that its decision was not meant to impose Western values on China.

That such a statement is even possible says a lot about how far culturalism has gone. It is impossible to imagine the Committee making such a statement about Sakharov’s prize, or Mandela’s (the latter comparison of course seems odd, but the Afrikaner ideology was very much one of Africanness).

The committee’s defensive posture is of course in complete agreement with that of the Chinese government, which — while the police summons all restaurant owners in Peking to warn them to report anyone celebrating Liu’s prize — accuses the committee precisely of a Western values imperialism. Is there anything to this?

Obviously, any Nobel prize is to some extent a political, and hence a “values”, decision. Particularly so the peace prize. Most of the awards are contentious. The awarding of the prize to Obama was, if you will, the imposition of a particular set of values on the current majority of Americans who do not like what he stands for. Yet the committee, again, did not feel compelled to defend itself.

To a degree, Liu is  an anachronism. His loyalty to a set of liberal-universalist ideas was more at home in 1980s China than that of today. It is likely that most Chinese, if they knew who Liu was, would have little understanding or sympathy for his ideas (although they would have more for his doggedness). But the same can be said about many other winners of the prize. The committee’s reaction, insofar as at is more than a euphemistic but disingenuous claim of apoliticalness, testifies to the proportions the culture fetish has attained.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Gino Satta permalink
    11 December, 2010 7:38 am

    Culturalism has gone very far indeed.
    But, if the Committee seems compelled to defend itself, is because the are the first to have pushed culturalism so far. The Nobel Peace Prize in the last years seems to have been appointed by a Committee who resolutely wants to discret it, by making it appear as propaganda for the supposed “Western values”.
    The problem with Obama as a Nobel Peace Prize winner is not that some Americans (the majority, perhaps) do not like what he stands for, but that, at the moment he won the Prize, not only he had done absolutely nothing for peace, but he was the president of a country at war, that had invaded in the last decade two other countries.
    I’ll change my mind, anyway, when I’ll see the Nobel Peace Prize given to Julian Assange.

  2. 11 December, 2010 9:00 pm

    We should seriously rethink our economic engagement with China:

  3. Gino Satta permalink
    13 December, 2010 12:09 am

    Goog idea! We should not allow the chinese government to spend its commercial surplus buying treasury bonds…

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