Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Target 2008

The current situation in Burma / Myanmar provides an interesting angle on Moynihan’s Law.
"The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country."
Why should human-rights pressure groups expend a lot of energy criticising anti-democratic dictatorships when that are not vulnerable to criticism in the first place? It’s a reasonable question I suppose. It is difficult to make the case for self-censorship on the grounds that this uneven stream of criticism foregrounds the shortcomings of liberal democracies – the ‘bushblairhitler’ rhetoric -while effectively ignoring the real injustices and brutalities.

But what about when other factors make brutal dictatorships vulnerable to criticism? As Mick Hartley points out (in an excellent longer post)
“Since the threat of disruption to the 2008 Beijing Olympics seems to have paid some dividends in pushing China into modifying its policies on Darfur, maybe the same could apply here.”
Clearly, this is an example of where public opinion can be mobilised against a potential catastrophe. It would also provide those ready-to-go protest movements of all stripes with an opportunity to provide a counterbalance to the logic of Moynihan’s Law – without having to resort to self-censorship.

Will they take it? Will we see a massive pro-democracy mobilisation this weekend – marching to the Chinese embassy, calling for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics unless they withdraw support for the Generals?

I’ve not seen one planned, but I’m always told just how good the Internet is at this kind of thing.
I’ll go along if you will? Anyone?

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