In political theory, states are utilitarian constructs that in general look after the well-being of their citizens. In history states were created in order to prevent mob rule and the condition of all against all and to protect the social group from being oppressed by a foreign other, to prevent the rape both metaphorically of a nation’s resources and quite literally of its women. Overall, the purpose of the state is the protection of the social and national, not to mention individual, human rights.

States also traditionally guarded sovereignty and ways of life. Sovereignty was therefore interlinked with the protection of rights. In the modern era, we would call these democratic rights. But today the west has created what it deems to be theories of modernity, where universal principles are used to push its agenda – and thereby it seeks to corrode the sovereignty of other states.

For the West the weapon of choice is a subjective vision of rights based on notions of individualism and economic liberalism. Of course, these notions are highly ideological and conform to the dominant US driven neoliberal doctrine. There is no acceptance of rights associated with organic societies, no recognition of financial, social and cultural human rights: indeed, these are never considered in the western public conscience.
Western liberal interventionists consider that many states can go to hell for the rights of underhand and treacherous individuals, even if in the process the individual rights of an entire nation can be destroyed.

Where here is the rationale? Can we construct a rights debate against the state by promoting greater rights atrocities? The recent examples are Libya and Syria. Of course there is no rationale in these scenarios, as there is none in sanctions in Iran, at least not in moral terms. Utilitarian rights guaranteed by states cannot be traded for individual rights, especially in an aggressive world arena, where soft power is deployed to weaken one’s competitors – what instead is revealed is nothing more than Machiavellian geopolitical interests.

Richard Sattler