Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Announcing Publication of "The Crisis of Secular Liberalism and the Constitutional State in Comparative Perspective: Religion, Rule of Law, and Democratic Organization of Religion Privileging States"


(Pix (c) Lartry Catá Backer 2015)

I am happy to announce publication of my article, "The Crisis of Secular Liberalism and the Constitutional State in Comparative Perspective: Religion, Rule of Law, and Democratic Organization of Religion Privileging States," which appears in the Cornell International Law Journal 44(1):51-104  (2015).

The article may be accessed here.

The abstract follows.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More From the Congressional-Executive Commission on China: Hearings on "Religion With “Chinese Characteristics”: Persecution and Control in Xi Jinping’s China"



The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). It tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elite sin the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chinese policies and institutions.

CECC has recently focused on recent police and other actions in China, especially the detention of certain high profile lawyers (see here). It's leaders, including Marco Rubio, an individual seeking nomination to stand as the representative of the Republican Party for President, have now focused on the issue of religion in China. The CECC has announced plans to hold hearings on "Religion With “Chinese Characteristics”: Persecution and Control in Xi Jinping’s China." The hearings appear meant to suggest both that China has approached the issue of the relationship between religion and the state differently from the West, and that this difference ought to be troubling when it affects the ability of the institutional apparatus of religions to control their government.  Whatever one thinks of the statement, it represents an important position of the United States with respect to these issues and is likely to figure in U.S. China relations going forward. 
 
The announcement of hearing and statement follows.

Part 45: (Obergefell v. Hodges (Gay Marriage), the Contextual Self and the Self Coupled): Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

With this post Flora Sapio and I (and friends from time to time) continue an experiment in collaborative dialogue. The object is to approach the issue of philosophical inquiry from another, and perhaps more fundamentally ancient, manner. We begin, with this post, to develop a philosophy for the individual that itself is grounded on the negation of the isolated self as a basis for thought, and for elaboration. This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged. For ease of reading Flora Sapio is identified as (FS), and Larry Catá Backer as (LCB).

The friends continue their discussion in which Flora Sapio responds to the friends.   

Contents: HERE.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New Draft Essay Posted: "If One Wants to Change Societal Norms One Must Change Society: Lessons From Michael Olivas and ‘Constitutional Criteria’ in Managing Higher Education Admissions Decisions"



(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)

The history of the United States has been, if nothing else, a history of tremendous battles over the definition and control of the societal structures that define and discipline its politics, law, and culture--its sense of self as a polity and community.  Those battles, in turn, might be understood as great efforts among groups people--the poor, women, ethnic, religious, racial and sexual minorities--to move from tolerance within a societal structures from which they have been excluded, to central elements of those social structures now transformed by their incorporation.  Law, politics and culture changed as groups moved into societal spaces, even as groups sought to use law, politics and culture to either resist or compel such societal transformation.

A great site for these battles has been the educational institutions from which individuals are selected for advancement within political, economic, and other structures of authority.  To change society from within, access to these critical societal sorting institutions are necessary.  It is in that context that much attention has been devoted to the the legal and social norms of admissions decisions for universities. Affirmative action, neutrality, testing are among the proxies within which the greater conversation about societal place and power is waged.  

Set out below is a short essay I prepared that considers one of the more interesting engagements with that set of challenges:   If One Wants to Change Societal Norms One Must Change Society: Lessons From Michael Olivas and ‘Constitutional Criteria’ in Managing Higher Education Admissions Decisions.

The introduction is set out below with links to the entire essay.

Part 44: (Marriage, the Contextual Self and the Self Coupled): Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual


(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

With this post Flora Sapio and I (and friends from time to time) continue an experiment in collaborative dialogue. The object is to approach the issue of philosophical inquiry from another, and perhaps more fundamentally ancient, manner. We begin, with this post, to develop a philosophy for the individual that itself is grounded on the negation of the isolated self as a basis for thought, and for elaboration. This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged. For ease of reading Flora Sapio is identified as (FS), and Larry Catá Backer as (LCB).

The friends continue their discussion in which Betita Horn Pepulim responds to the friends.   

Contents: HERE.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

From the Conference Board--Tentative Evidence of Greater U.S. Enterprise Sensitivity to Issues of Sustainability and Human Rights (But Still Quite a Way to Go)


(Pix © Larry Catá Backer 2015)
Recent reports from our friends at the Conference Board suggest that, especially among large transnational enterprises that may feel the effects of pressure to conform to international business and human rights  standards more strongly, U.S. enterprises are more strongly embracing these  international business and human rights standards in their formal practices and policies. Matteo Tonello and Thomas Singer, Sustainability Practices 2015: Key Findings (Conference Board 2.015)

The report strengthens the arguments put forward over the last decade by John Ruggie and those supporting a strong zone of autonomous governance spaces for business that social norm systems may have a positive effect on corporate conduct, especially in the business and human rights field (see here, here and here).  Of course, it is both to early to tell, and the relational direction of the data require more careful consideration.  Still, the evidence strongly suggests a great gap between the sustainability and human rights cultures of European and U.S. companies.  That gap is worth considering in substantially more detail.

The Conference Board Press Release, a summary of the key findings and information about the  Conference Board Sustainability Practices Dashboard follow:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Statement: "On President Xi's ‘Increasingly Bold Disregard for Basic Human Rights'"

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 "with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China, and to submit an annual report to the President and the Congress. The Commission consists of nine Senators, nine Members of the House of Representatives, and five senior Administration officials appointed by the President." (CECC About). It tends to serve as an excellent barometer of the thinking of political and academic elite sin the United States about issues touching on China and the official American line developed in connection with those issues. As such it is an important source of information about the way official and academic sectors think about China. The CECC FAQs provide useful information about the CECC. See CECC Frequently Asked Questions. They have developed positions on a number of issues: Access to Justice; Civil Society;Commercial Rule of Law; Criminal Justice; Developments in Hong Kong and Macau ; The Environment ; Ethnic Minority Rights;Freedom of Expression; Freedom of Religion ; Freedom of Residence and Movement ; Human Trafficking ; Institutions of Democratic Governance ; North Korean Refugees in China; Population Planning ; Public Health ; Status of Women ; Tibet ; Worker Rights ; and Xinjiang. As one can imagine many of the positions of the CECC are critical of current Chnese policies and institutions.

CECC has recently focused on recent police and other actions in China, especially the detention of certain high profile lawyers.   It's leaders, including Marco Rubio, an individual seeking nomination to stand as the representative of the Republican Party for President, have issued a statement  "ON PRESIDENT XI’S ‘INCREASINGLY BOLD DISREGARD FOR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS'".  Whatever one thinks of the statement, it represents an important position of the United States with respect to these issues and is likely to figure in U.S. China relations going forward. The statement follows.