Letters: Jungle Massacre

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The Independent Culture
Sir: When you headline the account of the Hutu massacre in Uganda with a reference to "the law of the jungle" (4 March), you make the common mistake of reversing the proper meaning of the term. It means not so much the absence of order imposed from above as the presence of order evolved from below.

It was authoritatively expounded a century ago by Rudyard Kipling in his two Jungle Books. The Mowgli stories repeatedly quote it to describe the practical rules which must be observed by every community - in this case the imaginary community of animals in the Seeonee Hills of central India - if its members are to coexist without external authority.

In this sense, the law of the jungle - based on the slogan, "We be one blood, thou and I" - represents the same concept as that of universal human rights, and it should not be applied to the violation of such rights.


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