We have not yet devised the political means to realize this utopian vision, and perhaps we never will: utopia, to date, is a place we know only by way of speculative fiction. But over the years, as we’ve developed family/clan relations, city-states, empires, kingdoms, caliphates, constitutional monarchies, theocracies, military dictatorships, communist autocracies and liberal democracies, we’ve come to learn that liberal democracies stand the best chance of realizing some approximation of that ideal, and – just as importantly – the best chance of changing their collective minds, so to speak, about how to approximate the ideal as they go along. Because they allow for plural, disparate, multiply competing political constituencies and modes of advancing political argument, liberal democracies seem best suited to realizing the kind of social self-reflexivity necessary for any significant political—or personal—change of understanding with regard to human rights.
That’s from Michael’s new book; he adds now:
But universalism with regard to rights and liberal internationalism with regard to foreign policy will perform a very useful function for any useful left: they will absolutely prevent you from expressing even the slightest degree of “solidarity” with Hezbollah, or the Iraqi resistance, or Slobodan Milosevic, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, simply on the grounds that they are opposing the Hegemon, the Empire.
Yeah. And then he adds a bit more after a discussion of Chomsky:
I would be so much happier if Chomsky were to take a moment to criticize the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic. I think that would be just great. Because, in my humble opinion, the left should have no part in such an enterprise, any more than we would take part in the International Committee to Defend Augusto Pinochet.
Or the International Committee to Defend Henry Kissinger.
Or the International Committee to Promote the Triumph of the Iraqi Maquis.
Or the International Committee to Point Out that Osama Bin Laden is Higher on the Moral Scale than Bush/Cheney.
Or the International Committee to Assert That We Are All Hezbollah Now.