Friday, 17 August 2012

Medieval human rights

Today two truly incredible stories are coming to a head. They've been much covered in inter-web land and I've got no miraculous new insights other than to quietly point out a connection between the two.

On the one hand we have  the Assange affair and the bizarre spectacle of the Ecuadorian embassy offering him a sanctuary. Which our own government is preparing to violate, and break with all diplomatic norms by entering and  arresting him so that he can be delivered up to our US overlords. And on the other hand in Russia we have the show trial  of  the Pussy Riot collective for 'hooliganism' in publicly ridiculing Putin - for which they face three years in prison.

Two modern states and world powers - both up to their necks in stories that are in fact straight out of the Middle Ages.

Actually that's not quite fair - whilst Putin's behaviour is perfectly consistent with medieval kings who regarded the state as their own personal fiefdom, generally everyone was loathe to violate the protocols of sanctuary.  

At times like this  democracy and human rights in modern states aren't much more than a thin and inconvenient veneer.

1 comment:

MAXEVDA said...

Just stumbled across this blog and am very much enjoying it.

I agree with this on the whole but, whilst I have no love for Putin, the Pussy Riot case is one I would be cautious about. Many of the obscenities were directed at the Russian religious orthodox, which would have been chargeable with or without mention of the little guy with the big boots.

It's true that the church has been largely co-opted by Putin's cabinet though, which definitely supports the Medieval analogy.