Anti-Nobel sentiment engenders alternative rewards over time

The choice of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate has often been viewed by autocratic governments as a provocative and hostile act, especially when the laureate is a political opponent, defender of free speech or an agitator for deeds. greater freedoms. Some authoritarian countries have even created their own anti-Nobel prizes.

The best-known recent example is the 2010 creation of the Confucius Peace Prize in China, named after the venerable Chinese sage of the 6th and 5th centuries BC. awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a prominent dissident and author imprisoned by the Chinese Communist authorities for subversion.

The first Confucius Prize ceremony was scheduled to coincide with the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, to which Mr. Liu, who was imprisoned, and his wife, who was under house arrest, had not been allowed to attend. Even though Confucius Prize officials said that the creation of their prize had nothing to do with the Nobel Prize, a booklet handed out at their ceremony stated, “China is a symbol of peace” and “Norway is not. is just a small country with a scarce area and population ”.

The Confucius Prize seemed to have been organized so hastily that the winner, a Taiwanese politician who advocated strengthening ties with mainland China, didn’t even know he had won.

Another well-known example of anti-Nobel retribution came after Carl von Ossietzky, a The German journalist and pacifist who opposed the Nazis was awarded the 1935 Nobel Prize, in what was widely seen as a global repudiation of Adolf Hitler and everything he stood for.

Hitler not only prohibited Mr. Von Ossietzky from accepting the prize, but he also prohibited any German from accepting a Nobel Prize in any category. Instead, he created the German National Prize for Art and Science, an annual award given to three German citizens. The prize was dissolved when World War II began in 1939.

The awards for criticism of the Nobels have also come from the opposite political leadership – activists who say they need to be broadened to better reflect a wider range of achievements in the areas of justice, education and change. social. A well-known example is the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes called the “Alternative Nobel”, created in 1980 by Jakob von Uexküll, a German-Baltic writer and philanthropist.

According to the Right Livelihood Award website, Mr. Von Uexküll first proposed two additional Nobel Prizes to the Nobel Foundation, one for environmental work and the other for the promotion of knowledge. When the foundation rejected the proposal, he created a prize himself, selling his stamp collection to initially fund the prize money.

Right Livelihood winners represent a wide range of social activists and others from over 50 countries. This year’s winners, announced on September 29, came from Cameroon, Russia, Canada and India.

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