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Letter: Third World rights

Sir: Professor Kenneth Minogue's racist polemic, "Arguing the case for the nation state" (Podium, 5 February) must be rejected as post-imperialist nonsense. His suggestion that the peoples of Africa "most notably lack" certain "invisible moral virtues" possessed by "us in the West" is absurd. Globalisation exacerbates inequalities of wealth but not for the reasons suggested by Professor Minogue. War economies are not the monopoly of any one country or region.

A front-page article in the same issue ("Rebuke for Cook over Sierra Leone") refers to the "arms to Sierra Leone affair". The global arms bazaar has more to do with current economic crises than the presence or absence of any "moral virtues".

"Democracy, I have no doubt, is doomed," says Professor Minogue. The end of apartheid in South Africa is evidence to the contrary. Notwithstanding the persistence of racism, even among some intellectuals, fundamental human rights are universal and must be constantly defended against those who claim the superiority of "Western" civilisation.


Emeritus Professor of Sociology

York University, Toronto