Episode 25 of Fully Automated sees Dr Philip Cunliffe discussing his book Cosmopolitan Dystopia: International Intervention and the Failure of The West with host Nicholas Kiersey (Professor of Political Science at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley).
Cosmopolitan Dystopia (Manchester Press, 2020) is a detailed study of the negative impact of human rights discourse on global politics since the end of the Cold War. Now, for many on the left, this will be a controversial point. Many see human rights discourse as a cover for US imperial ambitions. Yet, says Cunliffe, we can’t explain the popularity of global human rights discourse, or the extent to which it is invoked even by European powers, solely through the lens of American hegemony. You need a more nuanced account. And this is where Cunliffe brings in the idea of reading human rights discourse as a counter-utopian, or anti-political, symptom of the neoliberal era.