The way in which mainstream human rights discourse speaks of
such evils as the Holocaust, slavery, or apartheid puts them
solidly in the past. Its elaborate techniques of "transitional"
justice encourage future generations to move forward by creating a
false assumption of closure, enabling those who are guilty to elude
responsibility. This approach to history, common to
late-twentieth-century humanitarianism, doesn't presuppose that
evil ends when justice begins. Rather, it assumes that a time
before justice is the moment to put evil in the past.
Merging examples from literature and history, Robert Meister
confronts the problem of closure and the resolution of historical
injustice. He boldly challenges the empty moral logic of "never
again" or the theoretical reduction of evil to a cycle of violence
and counterviolence, broken only once evil is remembered for what
it was. Meister criticizes such methods for their deferral
of justice and susceptibility to exploitation and elaborates the
flawed moral logic of "never again" in relation to Auschwitz and
its evolution into a twenty-first-century doctrine of the
Responsibility to Protect.
Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science
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