Random Reflections on the [Im]possibility of Human Rights Education:

by Upendra Baxi

The United Nations Decade on Human Rights Education [HRE] is a fact of international life and law. In other words, it has simply happened and we have to cognize the event and its many aftermaths. But this fact does not tell us much concerning what HRE may mean and how It may be performed, apart of course from the ceremonial paths contained in the Program of Action. The very structures of globalizing state entities and apparatuses of dominance in civil society, which embed conditions and circumstances of massive and ongoing violations of human rights, nationally, regionally and globally, stand summoned to foster human rights culture and human rights education endeavor. Quite clearly, like all forms of international law, HRE constitutes a bootstrap operation. Unlike most such forms, however, HRE does not offer the managers of the market, especially in these halcyon days of globalization, and agents of the state any compelling constraint or opportunity auspices for action marshaling any compelling interest of global power wielders. It is another matter that national and international bureaucracies, development agencies and charitable foundations may invest some of the conscience -money to marginally atone for the atrocities of what Leon Trotsky described as virtually as "blood stained liberal capitalism" [If money " comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on its check, capital comes dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt."] Conceivably, and that must be the best possible hope for HRE, out of this blood [a la Michael Ignatieff] would arise the belonging. But whose blood must be shed to bring about whose and which kind of belonging must remain a crucial issue for the HRE "communities."

2. These communities must forever remain the scavengers of the blood and the dirt. This is an honorable occupation, whose future in the globalizing world-in-the-becoming is far from assured or secure. The [im]possibility of HRE, then, depends on the modes of struggle which will make both probable and possible the condition and circumstance of their survival, across the globe, in ways which nurture human futures. This must imply and entail that HRE communities become and remain human rights communities in the perennial struggle with all forms of hegemony, and dominance without hegemony, everywhere and at all moments of the contemporary acceleration of historic time. Quite simply, HRE praxis is just another name for human rights struggles.

3. By its very nature, formal education commands [what Foucault named as ] the certificatory power of the state. The measure of knowledges it produces is the measure of knowledges it subjugates andannihilates. Is it ever possible at this stage of huper [having already used the word 'human' I must rid myself of the discomfort and switch to a neologism: as a practicing feminist I avoid human because of the presence of man in it and person because of son in it ; the Oxford Dictionary of New Words has yet to find an honorable mention for this !] development for the state-institutionalized practices of certificatory knowledges to include any more than a sprinkling of HRE sensibility and sensitivity in learning /educational systems ? Just think of the formal systems in terms of ' natural' sciences, management, law, medicine. Are there any ways of turning around pedagogy, evaluation and certification to HRE? By this I mean enduring ways of transforming learning in the direction of transformation of huper futures. The prime task of HRE endeavors is to archive the tendencies towards the destabilization of curricula, pedagogy, evaluation and certificatory practices in the direction of HRE. Such an effort at retrieval and renaissance stands mandated by any HRE endeavor.

4. By the same token, HRE endeavors need to archive the potential of 'insurrectionary', 'organic' knowledges to advance huper rights cultures and futures. Do we know enough, beyond the 'myth' of the ' Noble Savage' ? In what and which ways peoples' knowledge system are more conducive to the creation/ sustenance of human rights cultures? And, similarly, in what ways do these retard the advent of HRE cultures? The empty humanism of 'human' rights would not help us very much in this necessary quest. By that phrase, I signify the vacuous notion which takes HRE as an unproblematic endeavor.

5. Let me illustrate. It is of the very essence of the carnal knowledge of power not to know, or feign ignorance, concerning the impact, in a post Hiroshima -Nagasaki world, a world bursting with the idiom of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty rhetoric, that the manufacture, testing or the deployment of nuclear weapons has unimaginable deleterious consequences, in terms of human health and environment. The organic knowledges of the bodies of the victim as the very site of science demonstrate this poignantly. Yet the world citizen endeavor, which installed the issue at the very heart of the skeletal international adjudicatory system produced a 7-7 decision at the World Court, yielding to a verdict which now says that ordinarily or normally the use of nuclear weapons is of dubious legality at international law, adjourning any finding on the issue of health and environmental impacts of the residual 'nuclear legality.'

6. Yet the world citizen endeavor, led in particular by the IPPNW [the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms] IPB [The International Bureau of Physicians ] and IPPNW [International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War] so mobilized the World Health Assembly and the United Nations General Assembly as to achieve a near-miracle: a reference for advisory opinion, under the auspices of the WHO, to the International Court of Justice [the World Court at the Hague]. HRE communities ignore at the peril of their own promise were they not to fully grasp this partnership of professions which led to the formation of this very distinctive, if not unique, initiative.

7. And what was, at the end of the day, the global adjudicatory response? The full text of the Opinion is as yet unavailable to me and indeed very poorly accessible, even in rudimentary form, in this era exploding with the information revolution! But the non-official summary [no doubt having informal endorsement of distinguished world court justices ] seems to say the following:

(a) [unanimously], they say: " There is neither in customary or conventional international law any specific authorization of threat or use of nuclear weapon;
(b) [by eleven votes to three] there is neither in customary nor conventional law any comprehensive and universal prohibition of the threat or use of nuclear weapons as such;
(c) [unanimously] a threat or use of force by means of nuclear weapons that is contrary to Article 2 of the United Nations Charter and that fails to meet all the requirements of Article 51, is unlawful;
(d) [unanimously] "a threat or use of nuclear weapons should be also compatible with the requirements of international law applicable in armed conflicts and rules of international humanitarian law
(e) since this last is a self-contradictory requirement, it produces a seven to seven split in the Court: Justices say that since this last principle cannot be satisfied the threat or use of nuclear weapons "would be generally contrary to the rules of international law but they also say that it lies beyond their knowledge to say whether or not such threat or use may be warranted in an extreme circumstance of self- defense in which the very survival of the state would be at stake."

8. What shall we say as educators, or as HRE initiators, as to what stands decided even symbolically?

What gifts should we possess to decipher this Delphic oracle? Do huper rights discourses have any relevance to this rearticulation of the horrible rationality of Hiroshima-Nagasaki on the eve of the Third Millennium? In a world bursting with the rhetoric and the idiom of comprehensive nuclear weapons treaty does anyone need to be reminded concerning the irreversible and unmanageable impacts of production, storage, testing and use of the nuclear arsenal? These knowledges lie traumatically embodied in the 'survivors' and yet the World Court has to rescue and privilege its well-manicured juridical self-hood by expressions such as " in view of the current state of international law" and "of the facts at its disposal..." it cannot decide coherently issues of residual legality of weapons of mass destruction. How do we as HRE initiators educate the World Court [and their normative cohorts] in the necessity of the obvious? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used to say always that the most important form of education is the education in the obvious. He overlooked the obvious himself: namely, that the continuous reproduction of the truths of power must forever manufacture also the oblivion of the obvious. Herein lies the [im]possibility of HRE because in the endeavor to produce peoples' truths which would collide with truths of power both vision and integrity of authentic peoples' struggles become exposed to many a risk of ambivalence and toleration of the intolerable. We will undoubtedly see examples of this in the commentation from peoples' movements of the World Court's performance!

9. The vision and integrity I just referred to require not any dialectical submission to power and authority, any self-congratulatory conversion of a real defeat into moral victory, nor any of the million ways through which the NGO communities cheat their way into survival. Rather, the [im]possibility of HRE would suggest education as a form of anarchy, hat is education as learning how to make such power and authority continuously and radically insecure, how to agonize it and ambush it, to critique it in ways which prefigure a world where power and authority would be humble before the sufferings and sorrows of the people. Can organized intergenerational transmission of skills, competencies and knowledges, as well as the habitus [in the protean Bourdieuan sense], which we name 'education' ever allow its widespread transmutation as a form of anarchy?

10. The [im] possibility of HRE stands demonstrated, in a full measure, not redressable by any variety of heremenutical efforts at reading the Program of Action of the HRE Decade, by this non-adjudication.

This event must surely arrest any wide-eyed or orgasmic expostulations concerning the possibility of HRE! Let us ask ourselves: what kind of education, let alone HRE, can ever sensitize, those who hold power over imaginable human futures, to be and to remain human rights literate in the most fundamentalist sense of that term?

11. Yet, despite all this, how do we explain to ourselves that this is also the very century which witnessed a Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi, a Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or an Aung Sang Suu Kyi? The heroic acts of deglobalization -- in the historically multiple rich senses of elimination of imperialism/colonization, crass racism and apartheid and authentic women- led movements for redemocratization in the red-in-tooth -and claw structures of blood stained liberalisms? Do our formal and informal educational systems attend to the narratives of impossible-looking yet world transforming political praxis? And, more important, how do the formal, and less formal, systems of education, attend to the method, mood and message of multicultural feminisms? The praxis, worldwide, of transforming feminism, or in huper rights languages, of women's' rights as human rights, summon all HRE endeavors to indwell on the contradiction between globalizing gender subjugation and aspiration for an authentic huper futures. How may we transform pedagogy, curricula and evaluation in schools and colleges to the subversive might of peoples' histories, which refuse to be condemned to marginality, is a question daunting any significant HRE endeavor.

12. I have already thus posed the issue of whom should HRE educate. One answer could be education for all is the HRE mission. But this does not alleviate the need to identify strategic constituencies for HRE. Clearly, those who hold public power not just in a narrow sense of constituting governments but in the proper signification of holding powers of governance, which would include key economic agents and institutions in national and global societies and the emerging and entrenched assemblage of international and regional intergovernmental agencies and institutions. This confronts us with a difficult question straightway: do the powerful ever learn values and virtues which seem to or do threaten their power-possessions? If they indeed learn, how does this happen? That is, does self-interest entailed in learning and unlearning affect [deflect, denature, reconfigurate] that which is being learnt? What impact does this kind of learning has on the very agenda of learning [in our case of the HRE?]

13. These questions need to be, obviously, a lot further refined. First, one would have to espouse some theoretical perspective on power relations and structures; it is by now well accepted that power does not constitute a zero sum or a plus-plus game and that it involves constant process of rhetorical and material renegotiation. But beyond this, all we have is a wealth of disagreement, unaffected, generally, by what the victims of power experience, think and say. Should HRE endeavor itself learn from the variety of victim-oriented discourses concerning the 'nature ' of power? Second, since all power structures are hierarchical, within and across nations, the scope or spread of learning activity or curve is likely to leave, by and large, the summits of power remain immune from learning. At an international level of hierarchy of global power play this has been dramatically reiterated by the United States which seems to have a whole lot to teach but very little to itself learn from the prevailing human rights cultures. Undoubtedly, it would be misleading to exhaust this tendency, no matter how flagrant to it, with the United States ; other equally notorious examples of structured incapacity to learn abound in the contemporary world. Isn't this structural determination of summits of power which poses limits to any worthwhile HRE endeavor, if it is possible in the first place? Third, do we know enough concerning how institutions, organizations of power think and learn? But without this knowledge how is HRE possible?

14. Similar questions arise concerning national and multinational corporations. Their CEOs and management personnel is indeed, generally, more 'educated' than the bulk and generality of political rulers worldwide whose overall lack of certified knowledges constitutes a passport to leadership.

Against all evidence, there are many who still hold that this set of ' people' is inherently corrigible and capable of learning the ways of construction of a human face of capital; and that all that is needed is an open dialog between human rights educators and activists and corporate managers to attain this construction. This would be amusing were it not so tragic for the victims of corporate malfeasance and criminality, already massively documented. This raises several questions for human rights pedagogy, and perhaps for all pedagogy. First, it is their education which is a part of the problem, not of solution: there is no promise, towards the end of the century, of any meaningful advent of feminist, ecological or human rights oriented reconfiguration of management, business, trade, auditing, corporate lawyering and related professional education systems, outside the intrusion of such concerns in the realm of efficient public relations and management of governmental power and mass media by way of damage limitation to corporate self-image and interest of profit and power. The question then emerges is:how do HRE initiatives de-educate the educated managerial personnel? Second, how do we conceptualize the organic linkage between political and economic power in fashioning HRE programs and initiatives?

Is there a history of citizen struggles to achieve this ? If there is, its archival would constitute a priority task for HRE pioneers. Third, there is the vexed question of how corporate criminality is to be handled; increasingly, even eminent criminologists are veering round to the view that criminal sanctions would neither deter nor reform corporate offenders even as victims urge lextalonis. Do HRE communities have much understanding of the complexity of punishment as a mode of education? Do educationists, generally, have any grasp of this complexity? [Interestingly, in some major Indian languages the word shiksha signifying education stands both for education and punishment!]

15. Third, we need to understand counter-instances of huper rights oriented corporate policies. Though not abundant, these exist. A full history, for example, of the mixed success of the sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa is perhaps yet to be written but HRE communities might learn something valuable by a specific study of those corporate policies which endorsed and implemented sanctions; similarly, despite our allergies to the corporate policies of ' constructive engagement' with the regime in Myanamar the recent withdrawal of investment by Heineken, preceded by similar action by Carlsberg, Pepsi, Reebok and Levi Strauss is being at least celebrated by human rights protagonists in Rangoon and elsewhere. The latter furnishes an illustration of autonomous corporate initiative, unsponsored by national or international governance practices. At the same time at least as regards Heineken it is a fact that its withdrawal stands matched by the rush for investment by the Singapore partners , Fraser and Nevin! And despite the call given by the Asian Human Rights Forum, AESEAN corporate investment has grown to about $3 billion, no doubt encouraged by the governments. [The Independent, l3 July 96; p.15.]

16. These random illustrations raise several issues. What encourages a handful of MNCs to pursue such policies? How authentic such a pursuit is, given inter-corporate strategic alliances? What is the life-span of such initiatives? What is the experience of concerned human rights communities concerning the impact of rare corporate policies of strategic withdrawal? What role, direct or indirect, national governments play in nudging leading corporations to behave thus? When all these aspects are understood, huper right communities are still confronted with the difficult choice of de-demonization of adversarial discourse against MNCs as a whole, whose overall record remains actively hostile to huper rights cultures. An equally important question of course is the solicitude, if any, shown even by the sensitized corporate decision-makers to social and economic rights and CEDAW entitlement: how far may we expect huper rights cultures to extend to all major decisional moments in the management of multinationals? The counter examples are so few, and the perfidious behavior so striking, that I believe that even the raising of these questions may in the end turn out to be a diversion from authentic huper rights praxis. I raise these, however, to seek answers from huper rights comrades who might hold diametrically opposed views and particularly for those activists who consider appealing to corporations to join their struggles against repression and terror.

17. The other realm, equally important, of considerable anxiety is the community or the establishment of science/technology. They constitute the modern [or the postmodern ] huper fate. The erudite knowledges on which they are based and on which they grow of course rest on a pervasive human right: the right to freedom of speech and expression, of experimentation, of immunity from overweening state regulation of research coupled with constant demands on the state [national and global] for moral and material support. "Big' science -- whether in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, life sciences generally, telecommunications, space and astronomical research and medicine-- is the order of the day. Paradoxically, no human community has had so much purchase on human rights estate [modern science and technology would be a rope of sand without a maximal human rights protection regimes]and no community has been so immune from universal human rights responsibilities. Fortunately, there exists considerable responsible dissent within high science ; or else, the formally WHO- auspices for the World Court reference for advisory opinion on the legality, and the impact, of nuclear weapons would have been inconceivable nor would have been the women's movement on Pharonic circumcision or reproductive rights. How to inculcate an ethic of universal social responsibility for acts of high science/ technology without impoverishing academic freedom is one of the major challenges confronting HRE initiatives and programs.

18. This challenge may not be faced by HRE communities without a modicum of scientific/technological literacy : the question then is how do we inculcate this ? Perhaps, the best option is provided by the Greens and Greenpeace, the subaltern histories of Rio and women's' movements on denuclearization of the earth. Any HRE movement which ignores comprehensive linkages between human rights of the scientific community/ establishment and its human rights responsibility would be liable to excruciating form of self debilitating eclecticism. By the same token, it would constitute an excess of free choice were the HRE communities fail to consider the technostructres -- that is, the sites of intimacy and incest between 'free', 'autonomous' scientific research and the corporate-military nexus. The responsibilities of HRE communities on these sites carry awesome tasks for huper futures. Not facing up to these tasks would cancel, surely, the promise of HRE futures.

19. Whether in schools, colleges and universities 'educationists' worry about the Human Genome Projects or biopatenting of new forms of genetically manufactured life forms[in plants, animals or human germline therapy] may be said to be their problem. But HRE would be fraudulent if it did not anxiously concern itself with these insofar as huper rights and huper futures remain indissolubly linked with science and technology developments. If this is true, anxious and suffering thought on HRE strategies is compelling. HRE endeavors have to build strong connections with both the growing tradition of dissenting academy within science/technology and peoples' resistance movements and build erudite-grassroots knowledges nexus. How this may best be done should be an aspect of the Project and the Mission of HRE, discarding as totally irrelevant the silences in the Decade's Program of HRE Action. Indeed, in this, as in many other respects, we should, at this Conference, let the silences speak to us!

21. Let me now address other constituencies of HRE -- namely, the two thirds world! It is relatively easy to seek to educate the dispossessed, disadvantaged and depressed peoples of the world on almost everything! I am not questioning the advantages of education or HRE for the two-thirds of the world; these are obvious, even when heavily, and often self-servingly jargonized in terms of ' participation', 'empowerment' ' mobilization' 'conscientization' and the like. I need not alert you my allergies to such expressions! These deny agency to people in the same way as power does. This puts the matter, I realize, a bit too strongly but even Paulo Friere, in his discourse on conscientization not wholly ironically, refers to peoples and horses [in terms of their nativity as it were] and the best of NGOs do occasionally succumb to the White Man's Burden ! If by people we signify victims of human rights violations, HRE would be a condescending human rights market gesture in seeking to educate them into the nature of evil which has befallen them. To carry, as it were, MIC to Bhopal victims is an impoverished performance of human rights education especially when it they ask the activist world to ensure that the Union Car bide should be hanged! No doubt, victims should be enabled to persevere in their acts of protest and in their struggles by performative acts of global human rights solidarity praxis. But the educational outcomes and impacts of this praxis, I believe, stand better addressed to the dismpowerment of their perpetrators. The difficult enterprise of HRE endeavors is to affirm the moral worth of the suffering humanity precisely in the manner in which the ways, and pathways, of power deny this. Perhaps, the first step in the activist journey of huper solidarity is for HRE activists to learn from the victims of the perfidies of power rather than to presume to educate them in the struggle for survival and justice. Which victim of land mines in today's world does not know the meaning, method and message of state terrorism? Which victim of ethnic cleansing and contemporary genocides needs to be educated in the HRE Decade Plan of action? Do the victims of militarized rapes need education in the CEDAW?

22. Humility before the victims of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, I believe, is critically indispensable for the would be HRE communities of the future. I hope I am wrong in saying this but from what I have seen of the evangelical militancy of some HRE endeavor makes me think and feel anxious concerning what I must name faute de mieux as HRE "imperialism." If this is a proper diagnosis, the problem then becomes one of how may we educate the HRE educators, rather than the people whom they so ardently wish to serve?

23. My point extends beyond what would be named, monstrously, as themethodology of HRE! It is rather the point which stresses the notion that the performativity of HRE, at least in difficult situations, is the same as that of actual huper rights intervention. In other words, HRE praxis is disabling unless it denies the Nero-syndrome of 'fiddling while Rome burnt" [as to the historical referent I am not sure whether I do disapprove of the act in that situation! but the metaphor does matter.] I do not, indeed, cannot conceive of HRE praxis which is bloodless and unbloodied. Sanitized HRE is mere education, uninformed by peoples' struggles to redeem huper futures. Of course, no intergovernmental agency or state or foundation funding will ever allow support for the radical integrity of HRE initiatives as acts of solidary intervention. How then may we perform HRE acts ? Or in other words how do we legitimate HRE strategies in the real world of powerless in struggle with those already too empowered?

24. Hitherto, I have treated HRE as a formation necessarily referring to a semiotic entity huper rights. It requires no great feats of deconstruction to suggest that there is no non-contested discursive site to be named as" huper rights." One has just to look at the two United Nations blue books compiling most relevant 'human' rights instruments. But of course these do not exhaust the entire range of 'human' rights instruments. Be that as it may, some instruments create binding norms and obligations for states; others remain expressions of a vision of 'our common future.' Regardless of this important dimension, all 'human' rights instruments remain contested sites: they articulate margins of active dissensus within the center of universal consensus. When we add to this feature, the multiple burdens of intertextuality [no huper rights instrument may be ever wholly read without reference to another and yet another ; just look at the Preamble to any huper rights treaty or declaration ] we augment the already infinite readings of what are supposed to be governing and binding norms. What is termed human rights is in reality a constant summons to acts of wisdom in interpretation of the text and context. And the interpretative integrity thus summoned is one of actively disinterested construction; disinterested reflection is a process of empathetic reading unmediated by concern of how many material interests of the reader are permanently threatened by an understanding arising out of the reading of the text and context of 'human rights' instruments. Without this open invitation to risk one's well-being, life style, one's pleasures and attachments in the world and one's radical willingness to transform one's life projects, no serious discourse concerning huper rights and huper futures, I believe, is ever possible.

25. If these very highly compressed remarks make any sense, it makes unusual demands on a would be HRE individual, group or a community; in fact integrity, authentic in the vocation of 'human rights' demands not just that we try to feel and think like the victims of violations but consider ourselves as only contingently immune from such violations. [This is what Pastor Neimholler's frequently quoted verse signifies.] Such radical integrity does not stand summoned, unfortunately, by the term education in almost all of its protean significations. If huper rights solidarity is not just an add-on but expected to be the very fibre of our beings, it has to be a fellowship of constant suffering which lifts us altogether out of a Neroesque syndrome of interpretation. Activist reading of 'human rights ' instruments allows no scope whatsoever of fiddling while "Rome' burns. The question then is how do we educate ourselves in HRE? Not, how do we educate others. The deeper meaning of huper rights being contested sites then is that it contests us, to enable us to contest the world.

26. It is in this sense that HRE communities must chose between [a distinction that I have elsewhere developed ] the politics of human rights and politics for human rights. The twenty year young woman, and an infant stoned to death, for adultery in the Taliban governed Kandhar in Afghanistan two days ago should not, unless it is also our hands which threw the stones, raise any problems concerning cultural relativism or universalism of 'human rights.' To do so will be to engage or indulgence in politics of 'human' rights. How do we strip by acts of HRE all the huper rights violative discourses of power and of repressive tolerance is a question only for the comfortable classes of HR and HRE 'intellectuals.'' The compelling demonstration of the violent discursivity of such interpretive praxis is high among the tasks of HRE communities. As politics for 'human rights', the demolition of the politics of 'human rights' is the first charge on the estate of HRE. In turn, it entails rediscovery or invention of integrity and solidarity beyond rhetoric.

27. Perhaps, and incohately, I have said enough already! I cannot resist the observation that HRE pedagogy must be in addition to being an act of moral outrage be also an act of lived anguish. This in turn raises the issue of [im]possibility of HRE persona who at no time can anesthetize her conscience and yet may be able to function in the real world, without this. It is difficult to remain psychiatrically healthy or well ordered and combat the lunacy of power. But the 'real world' 'teaches ' us that a bleeding heart syndrome gets us nowhere and poetry may not ambush power. Out of such dilemmas, if at all, HRE pedagogies need to be formed.

28. If radical integrity isn't possible in the acts of education, what are the next best and least inauthentic tasks before the HRE Against what and how is the HRE praxis fated to be insurrectionary?

29. First, collective acts of global public lamentation still remain necessary. HRE initiators must through such lamentations be able to convey the message that the ' Bell tolls for Thee.' The victims of violations must be recalled by HRE acts even if 365 days in a year would not be enough for this. The unsung melodies, contra Shelly, are not the sweetest but the cruelest of them all. Refurbishing of collective public memories of the victimage and violation [locally, regionally, globally], I suggest, is among the highest acts of HRE. To deny the violators their right and power to breed amnesia, to disorganize public memory [which is not as the adage goes is not short but shortened by the vandalism of domination] is the first public duty of HRE communities.

30. Demanding reparation and retribution for violations -- gross and flagrant and others- of 'human rights' is the second ineluctable act of HRE endeavors. Contemporary world mandates citizens truth commissions every day of the year. Exposing the violators and making dents into regimes of global impunity should be the continual task HRE communities.

31. So, at a world historical level, should be their demand for the transformation of formal and informal educational structures throughout the world.

32. Fourth, the denial of violation by complicity-- that is, HRE movements' constant rupturing of the administration of silence imposed by global governance-- stands clearly mandated by any meaningful HRE endeavor.

33. Surely, none of these ways, and many more can be put forward, is novel ; what is perhaps novel is to describe lamentation, counter-memory, restitution and articulation as acts of education.

One can expect a massive difference of opinion between agents and institutions of certified knowledges on the one hand and programschrift of HRE so far suggested. Virtually nothing, so far as I know, in educational theory and technology addresses learning and education as here and now engagement with context-smashing huper interaction distinct from development of critical [very often on the one hand and the other hand kind ] perspectives. This latter genre eventually leads among the 'educated' people to an approach poignantly summed up in the Latin maxim de minimis non curat praetor [The Praetor has no time for little things or little people!] It may even lead to such 'academic' integrity which has been classically satirized by Amanda Prantera in her The Side of the Moon [London, Bloombsbury; l991] where Galen, the narrator [A.D. l30 circa] is simply unable to aver that Emperor Commodus [the heir to Marcus Aurelius] could be said to have committed any one of the heinous acts of tyranny and torture attributed to him. A contemporary [non-fictional] narrative is to be found in the cognitive industry denying the happening of holocaust or the overnurtured 'scientific' notion of false memory syndrome to which all acts of incest and child abuse may be safely attributed. When 'truth' stands nationalized, objectivity in the production of knowledges becomes a complicit instrument in denying or radically doubting victimage. In contrast, the intersubjectivist epistemology of the 'practitioners ' of 'human' rights commences its tasks by taking the voice of the victim seriously and peoples' sufferings seriously.

34. Surely, the difference cannot be that 'human' rights activists politicize processes of knowing whereas academicians have no politics to bring to their everyday activities in the international production of knowledges. I take this point to be self-evident. How then may we build new linkages between formal and informal ' politics' of educational institutions and apparatuses and HRE becomes a crucial question /issue on the agenda of those who would seriously confront education as a process of social transformation..

35. Let me now turn to professional discourses in contemporary "educational theory." Ever since Durkheim's classic monograph on moral education, it seems to have been believed that it is possible. This much neglected work also suggests ways of reading which suggest the contrary! Aside from saying that those who would wrestle with the problematique of HRE had better revisit Durkheim, in all his complexity and contradiction, I do not propose in these Notes to develop this theme. But I do wish to interrogate the surrogates of the Durkheimian thesis, especially the notions of value based education as they relate to the vocation and even the mission of the HRE. As far as I know, there is no Nietzschean discourse on value-based education, aside from Foucault and to some extent Pierre Bourdieu. Nihilism refers to the processes of devaluation of all the uppermost or basic values; the struggle for transvaluation of all values addressed by Nietschze as the writing of the future history of Europe, is now upon us, more actively in the 'human' rights discursivity. The emerging rights to reproductive autonomy or to sexual orientation , to take the two most contested illustrations, stand constituted as the performative praxis of huper rights struggles, at heavy odds with all kinds of 'religious' heritages and fundamentalist precepts. Obviously to patriarchal ideologies hardened into institutionalized forms of priestly powers both these forms are rights signify nihilism. On the other hand, this nihilism furnishes a charter of liberation for historically oppressed groups. One way to describe huper rights movement is that it is a constructively nihilistic movement, heretical surely against false Gods and their self-anointed vice regents on the earth. It is only after the Death of God has been [in a Nietzschean sense] proclaimed that huper rights begin to have a career and future.

36. On the other hand the religious critique of huper rights as threatening or even destructive to all that is precious in 'human civilization' is based precisely on its theologies of 'secularism.' It is repugnant to clergies everywhere, and to the authentically pious men and women around the world, to accept as 'progress' the right of every huper to fabricate her own cosmologies and eschatologies or ' worse still' the right against all telelogy ;that is the denial of the good ends of life excepting those that contingent persons may wish to make out eclectically from time to time.] These critics point out that the fundamental huper right to conscience and religion also entails rights to conversion, interfaith practices and to radical agnosticisms, extending to the denial of the sacred and veneration of the mundane. "Religion' is nothing but wholly communitarian in character and such 'freedoms' weaken the collective sentiment and tradition; once debilitated, moral and ethical beliefs lose the gravitational force derived from piety and visions of after- life ordained by God. On this view, the nihilism of 'human' rights enunciations and movements is profoundly desacralizing and therefore incapable of endowing huper beings and communities to move beyond egotism propelled by fluctuating recognition of contingent satisfactions, unredeemed by any foundational values Not suprisingly, on this view, the capacity to combat radical evils remains unavailable to the founding secular 'faith' of 'human' rights "communities."

37. Similar critiques, though stoutly repudiating the religious worldview, were urged powerfully by Karl Marx in the Gotha Program and On the Jewish Question . It is not possible to pursue here the main theses ; nor would I burden this text with the non-socialist blossoming by way of communitarian critiques of contemporary deontological theories concerning the primacy of the right over the good.

38. My purpose in drawing attention to this discourse is to ask: how far do the traditions of doing educational theory and philosophy cognize the problematique of the ethics of huper rights? What is it that the HRE communities may learn from the proselytizers of value-based education? And how do the various approaches to such education deal with the varieties of nihilisms and fundamentalisms referred to above?

39. Equally important, in my opinion, is the need for huper rights communities, as well as HRE ones, to begin to take seriously the religion-based critiques of huper rights. There is indeed a need for a sustained critical interfaith dialogue, both of radical theology and conservative traditions, on the role of authentic huper choice over visions of good life within religious world views, locating the relevance of huper rights within it. Such conversation should not at all dismiss even as naively heretical the question: Did not the Almighty also endow His huper creations with the reason and the will to pursue through the logics of ' human' rights the visions of common good? Obviously, different theological traditions will have distinctive responses to make but a dialog such as this will also construct a core of commonalties conducive to a wider acceptance of the cultures of contemporary huper right movements. Is it possible to urge the eminent educationists to seize such an initiative?

40. Let me urge a couple of additional points before I 'quit and logout' these chaotic Notes! Reverting first to the notion of value-based education do we need to distinguish between values and virtues? Allow me a long quote, by a way of contemporary exposition from a historian of Victorian England:

Values, as we now understand that word, do not have to be virtues; they can be beliefs, opinions, attitudes, feelings, habits, conventions preferences, prejudices, even idiosyncrasies --whatever any individual, group or society happens to value, at any time, for any reason. One cannot say of virtues, as one can of values, that anyone's virtues are as good as anyone's else's', or that everyone has a right to his own virtues. Only values can lay that claim to moral equality and neutrality. This impartial, "non-judgmental," as we now say, sense of values -- values as "value-free"-- is now so firmly entrenched in the popular vocabulary and sensibility that one can hardly imagine a time without it. [Gertrude Himmelfarb The De-moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values 11-12 (emphasis added); New York; l994.]

41. "Human' rights enunciations encode, I believe, both virtues and values. To work through the ever proliferating massive corpus of these enunciations to sustain this thesis would be a task of several lifetimes. It is easy enough to spare ourselves of this hard labor by a variety of devices including the questioning, or deconstruction, of the very distinction or by postulating, contra Himmelfarb, the human right to have one's own virtues, absurd though our habits of mind and heart may at first sight suggest such an enterprise to be. But if we are not to slip into easy minded relativism in thinking and doing 'human' rights or HRE it remains necessary to demonstrate that not all its enuciations open up spaces for values as being value free but some adumbrate and celebrate virtues. It would be interesting, in the Costa Rica setting, to learn about the ways in which educational philosophers have tackled this dichotomy in ways which promise substantial learning for HRE communities.

42. We also need, in Costa Rica conversations, to develop some understanding of what Trotsky named as the "sociological structure of humanity" explained recently as

the actual interrelation of all ... different societies by virtue of which they make up a larger dynamic whole, the contradictory but irreversible unity of human social development created by the spread of world market -- and all the tensions and conflicts arising from this geo-politically combined but sociologically uneven development of the international system. Within this totality, the states system is crucial but by no means a free-standing element [Justin Rosenberg, "Issac Deutscher and the Lost History of International Relations" 215 New Left Review, 9:l996; emphasis added.]

43. In a crucial sense, the creative, and at times insurrectionary, despair and dismay of huper rights and HRE communities arises from a contradiction between their understanding of the sociological structure of humanity and the logic of the combined and uneven development [in the senses enunciated above] of the world system. If states may by no means constitutefree-standing element neither can the NGO movements. The difficult task confronting the reflexivity of huper rights activism, on the eve of the Third Millennium, entails the prefiguration of near future of the world and the imagination of [how I dislike the term!] sustainable huper rights strategies. One must avoid the twin dangers of scientism and overrationalization of people's struggles. But reflexivity labors are not at odds, at any rate wholly, with this demand for integrity in cognitive or epistemic practice. After all HRE, like all education, has to be both education in understanding as well as education in sentiment.