2021-10-08 23:58:04 Anti-Nobel Sentiment Spawns Alternative Awards Over Time
Anti-Nobel Sentiment Spawns Alternative Awards Over Time
The selection of a Nobel Peace Prize winner has frequently been viewed as a provocative and hostile act by autocratic governments, particularly when the winner is a political opponent, an advocate of free expression, or an agitator for greater liberties. Some authoritarian states have even instituted their own anti-Nobel prizes.
The most well-known recent example is the establishment of the Confucius Peace Prize in China in 2010, named after the revered Chinese sage of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. The award was part of the angry official reaction to that year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which was given to Liu Xiaobo, a prominent dissident and author imprisoned by Chinese Communist authorities for subversion.
The first Confucius Prize ceremony was scheduled to coincide with the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, which Mr. Liu, who was imprisoned, and his wife, who was under house arrest, were not permitted to attend. Despite the fact that Confucius Prize officials claimed their award had nothing to do with the Nobel, a booklet distributed at their ceremony stated that “China is a symbol of peace” and that “Norway is only a small country with scarce land area and population.”
The Confucius award appeared to have been thrown together so quickly that the winner, a Taiwanese politician who advocated for closer ties with the Chinese mainland, was unaware he had won.
Another well-known example of anti-Nobel vindictiveness occurred after Carl von Ossietzky, a German journalist and pacifist who opposed the Nazis, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935, in what was widely viewed as a worldwide rejection of Adolf Hitler and everything he stood for.
Hitler not only forbade Mr. Von Ossietzky from accepting the prize, but he forbade any German from accepting any Nobel prize in any category. Instead, he established the German National Prize for Art and Science, which is given to three German citizens each year. When World War II broke out in 1939, the award was dissolved.
Awards that have been traced back to criticism of the Nobels have also come from the opposite political direction, with activists claiming that they should be broadened to better reflect a broader spectrum of achievements in the fields of justice, education, and social change. The Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel,” was established in 1980 by Jakob von Uexküll, a Baltic-German writer and philanthropist.
According to the website of the Right Livelihood Award, Mr. Von Uexküll first proposed two additional Nobel Prizes to the Nobel Foundation, one for environmental work and the other for knowledge promotion. When the foundation turned down his proposal, he created his own award, selling his stamp collection to fund the prize money at first.
The Right Livelihood laureates represent a diverse group of social activists and others from over 50 countries. The winners for this year, announced on September 29, came from Cameroon, Russia, Canada, and India.