Monday, February 28, 2011
Is the World Becoming Unhinged?
But there is a third factor at work in all of this and that is the power of liberal (classic liberalism) democratic ideals in the postmodern world. I say "postmodern" intentionally, because we are no longer in the indusrial modern age and have long moved on to the postmodern postindustrial age. The postmodern age is not driven principally by issues of class, but by issues of identity. Information is inherently liberating and democratizing. If the events of today seem to have a common thread, it is that democratic ideals are quickly moving through and being embraced globally.
I find most interesting that both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now speak frequently about "universal human rights," in relation to the reaction of authoritarian regimes to legitimate protest. But this is not the first time: during the January visit of Chinese Premier Hu Jintao's visit to Washington, President Obama used the same phrases in relation to China's suppression of dissent. The reference to universal rights unfortunately has been left somewhat vague in the President's declarations. He should more specifically say not only that "we believe in universal human rights," but the concept has been enshrined in international human rights law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most important legacy of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and the two treaties (called covenants) that followed protecting civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights, respectively. China voted for all of these human rights documents, and it and all other governments should be held to this universal standard. They should never be let off the hook with the argument that such governments obey a different "cultural tradition."