The work of human rights activists is often shot down as being "idealistic" and "not pragmatic". But what is or isn't pragmatic depends upon one's time horizon. Often, "pragmatism" is used a cover to justify myopic policy. Here's a thread.
Suppose you're in poor health and bad physical shape, and want to feel better. What solution is or isn't "pragmatic" for you depends on whether you want to feel good immediately and for a few hours, or whether you want to feel good in a year and long-term.
If you want to feel good immediately, then it's not "pragmatic" for me to suggest an exercise and diet program. That would be "idealistic". It would be more "pragmatic" to suggest an energy drink (or a shot of cocaine?)
If, however, you want to feel good in a year, but sustainably, then it's not "pragmatic" for me to suggest an energy drink. That would be stupid. Rather, the exercise and diet program (which would otherwise be "idealistic") is what would be pragmatic here.
Now suppose that you *always* go for the short-term fix, repeatedly, time after time. It makes you feel good on the short term but undermines your long-term health. Would this now be "pragmatic"? Or would it be short-sighted and unsustainable?
Unfortunately the policy world is full of short-sighted, unsustainable, amoral policies being disguised as "pragmatic", meanwhile the truly sustainable, long-term solutions are being shot down as "idealistic".
It is delusional to expect our world to heal without equality and human rights, but it's also delusional to expect this to happen in a few short years and without a long-term commitment.
Real pragmatism isn't evil, but a ton of bad policy has been justified in the name of "pragmatism", meanwhile solutions that take hard work and produce sustainable results have been considered too "idealistic".
Why? Maybe because of a bias that looks upon certain regions of the world as not deserving of long-term investment. "Let's just do what gives us results now" - because we're not interested in what happens long term. And so, long term, we get disasters.
Real pragmatism is shifting resources and tactics and strategies while still holding true to vision, mission, values and principles. Fake pragmatism, on the other hand, ignores values and principles in return for short-term shortcuts.
Fake pragmatism is giving a billion dollars of military assistance to a brutal military dictatorship because it “keeps the peace”; it’s selling weapons to a regime that is bombing and starving a defenseless society because that regime “serves our interests”
It's time we come to view such appeals to "pragmatism" that ignore human rights for what they are - short-termist, cynical, unsustainable, and amoral fixes that end up making the underlying problems worse.
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