Quote of the day: “Human rights are not the exclusive preserve of Westerners”

H/T, Normblog

Luke Foley, Labor member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, from his maiden speech in the NSW Parliament a few days ago:

“Today political parties are much maligned. I want to speak in their defence. Before the 1890s membership-based political parties did not exist. When elections came around, candidates representing ruling-class interests simply put themselves forward. Across the world, the parties of the Left invented the notion of party membership. The founders of my party came together because they knew they could only achieve decent treatment at work, free schooling, extensions to the franchise and reform of land laws through collective, rather than individual, action.”

“Above all, I am Labor, committed to equality, solidarity and social justice. I believe in the principles of the party and in a party of principle. I have been a member of the Australian Labor Party for 22 years. I served the party in a full-time capacity as Assistant General Secretary of its New South Wales branch from 2003 until June this year. I have some experience of Labor’s remorseless internal politics. I have always felt that our members and supporters deserve a party machine worthy of Labor’s message. Political power is a means to an end; it should never be the end in itself. I reject the empty pursuit of power. There is no honourable political future for a Labor Party that will not uphold courageously the principles from which it draws life. My political involvement has a purpose and a direction. My idealism imagines a better kind of world.”

“I draw inspiration from one of the great radical documents in human history: the American Declaration of Independence. What was radical in 1776 was the notion that government arose from the people and was not a gift to them or an imposition on them. The American Declaration of Independence established the concept of human rights, for the first time in history, as the basis for a nation. I hold human rights to be universal. I do not believe that, in today’s world, human rights are the exclusive preserve of Westerners. Anti-totalitarianism is at the heart of my politics. Today a totalitarian movement of the far Right is threatening pluralist democracies and the lives and freedoms of people in many societies, including our own. This global Islamist movement is misogynist, racist and homophobic. This movement’s extremist ideology is, of course, based on an utter perversion of the Islamic faith. Too many progressives are silent about this or deny this. Governments everywhere have a profound duty to protect their citizens from the threat of extremist Islamist terrorism. I intend to maintain an active interest in this over my time in this place.”

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