Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The end of history, revisited

Kishore Mahubani, of the National University at Singapore, reflects that the "end of history" in the West (1989 and all that) is reciprocated by the rise into history of the East, and comments on one aspect of the West's decline:
Sadly, in all the recent discussions of “the end of history,” few Western commentators have addressed the biggest lapse in Western practice. The fundamental assumption of “the end of history” thesis was that the West would remain the beacon for the world in democracy and human rights. In 1989, if anyone had dared to predict that within 15 years, the foremost beacon would become the first Western state to reintroduce torture, everyone would have shouted “impossible.”

Few in the West understand how much shock Guantánamo has caused in non-Western minds. Hence many are puzzled that Western intellectuals continue to assume that they can portray themselves and their countries as models to follow when they speak to the rest of the world on human rights.
It becomes that much difficult to inspire liberty when the citizens of authoritarian countries can come to believe that America is just the same under its skin.

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