Inequality in Machiavelli's The Prince, More's Utopia, and Las Casas' Account of the Destruction of the Indies
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What motivates one person to subject or dominate another? When people take it upon themselves to judge who has the right to be free or enslaved; who is superior or inferior; who is civilized or barbaric, the outcomes throughout history have been horrific. The actions imposed are foreign to those of us who are privileged and forever scarring to those who have been subjected. It is ironic that people have struggled so much through out time with the underlying quality that unites us as human beings: our humanity. By ignoring this universal quality among people, the stage is set to create a system where any judgment and its action are justifiable. The source of these justifications vary according to what one chooses to paint around the edges of the picture, whether the paint be religious beliefs or civilized ideals, the underlying motive is usually greed. There are many different ways to enslave someone through domination, oppression, and tyranny: all of these have a common theme in that they violate our human rights. The simple fact is as Jean-Jacques Rousseau states, "The words 'slavery' and 'right' are contradictory, they cancel each other out. Whether as between one man and another or one man and a whole people" (1). Webster's Dictionary defines slave as, " a bond servant divested of all freedom and personal rights, a human being who is owned by and wholly subject to the will of another, as by capture, purchase, or birth" (2).
The fight for equality and human rights has been and still is a continuous battle played out on many fronts ranging from struggles between ruling governments and the people, the definition of societal roles and status, and also within the home on a domestic and individual level. The legacy for these battl...
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...to do what they want by not being stopped. Slavery is a whole culture giving permission for the violation of human rights. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Edmund Burke in a speech about human rights as saying, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Our society has created many political and social justice organizations on a domestic and international level that strive to confront these crimes against human rights. But, the truth needs to be acknowledged with wider eyes and our universal morals encourage the understanding and compassion necessary for our diverse world to live together peacefully with equality among all humans. Only in this practice will we truly learn what our humanity is.
Machiavelli, Niccoló. The Prince. New York: Penguin Classics, 1999.
More, Thomas. Utopia. New York: Penguin Classics, 1965.