A midweek reprieve from markets, courtesy of the late Tony Judt.

Money quote:

So I don’t think intellectuals do very well talking about the need for the world to be democratic, or the need for human rights to be better respected worldwide. It’s not that the statement falls short of the desirable, but it contributes very little to either achieving its goal or adding to the rigor of the conversation. Whereas the same person, really showing exactly what’s defective about democracy and democracies, sets a much better base for the argument that ours is a democracy that others should be encouraged to emulate. Merely saying that ours is a democracy or saying that I’m not interested in ours but I want to help make yours encourages the response: well, go away and fix yours and then maybe you’ll have a foreign audience, and so on. So in order to be international, we have to be national first.