Kant’s philosophy vs. North Korea’s philosophy

Kant’s philosophy of treating people as an ends in themselves instead of as a means to an end resonates powerfully with my idea of how politicians and governments should ideally treat people in a democratic country, or any country for that matter. This is a very important idea because it strongly emphasizes on the value of human life. I find this philosophy very interesting because Kant doesn’t just state the maxim out of a personal whim or opinion; he actually provides a logical explanation to back this categorical imperative. He reasons that since morality is determined by reason, moral law is universal because reason is universal. Hence moral law applies equally to everyone. Therefore, acting morally means to treat every person as a moral agent and therefore as an end in itself, not as a means to an end.

The reality, however, is far from Kant’s ideal. Some governments and politicians around the world regularly abuse human rights. For example, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the most repressive and undemocratic states in the world. Kim Jong-un exercises absolute political power over the country. The authoritarian government restricts all forms of human liberty and freedom in the country, including freedom of speech, assembly, religion, and the freedom to form political parties. The government systematically forces citizens (including women, children and prisoners) to provide unpaid labor , who are forced to build the country’s infrastructure and participate in events extolling the Kim family’s ruling and the Workers’ Party of Korea. The government uses arbitrary arrests, punishments, torture and execution to incite fear in people’s minds and gain control over them. The government partners with Chinese authorities to capture North Korean refugees and punishes the refugees for making international contact. The government does not care to protect and promote the rights of marginalized and weaker communities like women, children and crippled people. Kant would be devastated and horrified by the of abuse people, and most importantly valuable human lives, in countries like North Korea.

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