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April 23, 2006

"Euston Group" Liberals Argue, Shockingly, In Favor Of Democracy, Civilization, and... War

Their manifesto. These people are forever writing manifestos. But this one's a little different than most:

A. Preamble

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.

The present initiative has its roots in and has found a constituency through the Internet, especially the "blogosphere". It is our perception, however, that this constituency is under-represented elsewhere β€” in much of the media and the other forums of contemporary political life.

...

B. Statement of principles

1) For democracy.

We are committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures β€” freedom of opinion and assembly, free elections, the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, and the separation of state and religion. We value the traditions and institutions, the legacy of good governance, of those countries in which liberal, pluralist democracies have taken hold.

2) No apology for tyranny.

We decline to make excuses for, to indulgently "understand", reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy β€” regimes that oppress their own peoples and movements that aspire to do so. We draw a firm line between ourselves and those left-liberal voices today quick to offer an apologetic explanation for such political forces.

3) Human rights for all.

We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

Quixotic and unlikely to have any greater effect than allowing the 600 signees to blow off steam, but it's always a good thing when men and women stand on good principle.

This Guardian writer, presumably a socialist himself, engages in the typical Bush, Blair, and Rumsfeld bashing, but actually seems to comprehend that there is a difference between democratic civilization and tyranical barbarism:

You can sympathise with the Euston group's frustration, along with its condemnation of reflex anti-Americanism. Again, studying Asia has influenced my thinking. In March 1947, Truman reversed the policy of ruralising defeated Japan and, instead, decided to build it up as a liberal capitalist democracy, along with others in Asia, against communism. There have been disasters and fiascos along the way (Vietnam), but in 2006, not many would say the strategic policy was wrong. My hunch is that in 60 years' time, we may make the same judgment about trying to promote democracy in the Middle East.

Via Memeorandum.


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posted by Ace at 11:12 AM

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