Monday, April 20, 2009

What Washington means

New York Times:

To defeat the forces of oppression, Washington must promote and protect the ideals of democracy and human rights.

In Washington, the locus of power shifts between competing groups of investors who hire the government for private objectives, at home and abroad, which they wouldn't be able to pull off otherwise.

The explanation gets to the heart of why the modern nation state ever developed at all: because the average person does not jump into harm's way or consent to less than they deserve on behalf of privileged concerns absent some elaborate pretext.

Needless to say, "democracy" and "human rights" do not figure prominently in this equation, except as code words to describe the "constitutional" right of elite groups to compete more or less fairly with each other in pursuit of the throne, and to not be too put out in the event that they lose -- indeed, the only meaningful difference between "democracy" and "dictatorship" in contemporary political discourse.

Far from denying the "forces of oppression" of which no group will ever exert a monopoly, we are much better served by an honest appraisal of our own complicity in systems where resistance and disruption might render a defensive effect for those on the receiving end.

For example, this could mean putting an end to the bombing of civilians for whom we claim repeated concern in the rhetoric of "human rights."

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