31 May 2023

sam moyn at the u. chicago pozen family human rights center last october

You know, some of these centers indeed emerged in the 1970s, like at Columbia and Notre Dame. But many others, like this one, came when human rights were the morality of the End of History in the 1990s, and they have been defined by the realities of the last 25 years — of that moment when there was an open acceptance of unipolarity and an implicit acceptance of neoliberalism. And human rights were about global justice within the terms of those two facts. Uh, but they’re not facts for long!

Uh you know, in the haze of insanity that has marked many of his statements, Vladimir Putin remarked the other day that the Ukraine war is about whether the West accepts that the unipolar reality is passing. And I think he’s right about that.

And when it comes to neoliberalism, it’s under unprecedented challenge — Liz Truss fell from power today because she tried to restore it in its pure Thatcherite form. And it’s not by any means dead. But we don’t know what the terms of struggle over its succession will be like. And what’s the relation of the human rights idea to these changes? Well I’m not sure that it’s going to have a major role . . . .

Sam Moyn speaking as member of the large stage panel assembled for an evening of celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Chicago’s human rights center last year — held the same day Liz Truss’ brief tenure at 10 Downing ended, in a coincidence of perhaps no great significance.

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