Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Is Michael Ignatieff a pragmatist or an opportunist?

Michael Ignatieff supports the war in Afghanistan, defends the use of torture as an interrogation technique, and argues that American hegemony over the planet's economy, war zones, DNA and solar system is a "Lite" form of empire. How he ends up as a Liberal must be a tale that requires a stong stomach--and I'm not talking about abs.

A range of political dispositions not represented on the two-dimensional Political Compass has at one extreme the ideologue and progresses, in order, through idealist, demogogue, pragmatist, opportunist, predator and addict. Ignatieff, the political candidate, challenges us to distinguish between the pragmatist and the opportunist.

Indeed, it is a question that might be applied to the Liberal Party. They could end up in bed with almost anyone. But that changes the metaphor, doesn't it? i.e., puts monogamy at one extreme, liberation at the other and has me trying to articulate a distinction between the prostitute and the slut.

In short, Ignatieff is a Liberal for all the reasons that Stephen Harper hates Liberals. But both are accomplished, um, prostitutes--or pragmatists. It's the fits that make me uneasy. Harper's fits of "pathological partisanship." Ignatieff appears to suffer from an ivory tower version of "nothing human is foreign to me."

What, for example, is the great human rights defender doing about torture? Are we to believe that every instance in the Empire of Lite passes the Dershowitz criteria for acceptability. Or does Ignatieff agree with George Bush when he says that "Abu Ghraib was a big disappointment"?
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3 comments:

Joanne said...

Ignatieff DOES NOT support torture. You might want to read something he's written on the topic, rather than the cut-and-paste selective quotes you can find online, or if that's too much, read this article or this one.

Jim Terral said...

Thanks for your comment.

You're right; he doesn't support torture. On the contrary, in his article for the Prospect he concludes,

"So I end up supporting an absolute and unconditional ban on both torture and those forms of coercive interrogation that involve stress and duress."

But you already know that. You were right; I was wrong and am glad of it.

Thanks for the links. I can read them and something he's written and cut-and-paste.

Eric said...

That's right, and Bush doesn't support torture either. Try this one