In the Boston Review:
I would like to start by thanking the CATO Institute for awarding me this prize, which I accept as a moral and ethical endorsement of Iran’s Green Movement. I very much hope that this award will facilitate our struggle for advancing democracy and human rights in Iran.
Human history has been interpreted in many ways. I read this history as a sustained course of struggle for liberty—the struggle of slaves, women, people of color, the poor, the disenfranchised, of religious minorities and dissidents of various sorts, to rid themselves of the tyranny they have endured. The history of emancipation movements in the United States is in fact a perfect example of such endeavors for liberty: the struggle against foreign domination, the revolt against slavery, the women’s rights movements, and the civil rights movement are all prime examples of such uprisings, which have in turn become inspirational for similar movements around the globe. The American tradition of struggling for freedom has been instrumental in spreading the culture of liberty and democracy throughout the world. Today the American people and their social institutions continue to help disseminating the same humane principles that inspired their own founding fathers.
Today one can see many societies that are reaping the benefits of these sustained struggles for liberty. There is no doubt that the relative freedom in these countries is the result of the institutionalization of a more-or-less acceptable degree of democracy; and needless to say, democracy is the result of a powerful civil society, and that is in turn contingent on the freedom to elect a representative government, which is itself predicated on freedom of expression, action, and organization. Good or bad, the fate of a people, however, is not entirely in their own hands. Appropriate international circumstances are also necessary preconditions for the empowerment of civil societies and a transition to a democratic system that is committed to popular sovereignty and human rights.
The misfortune of the people who live in the Middle East, the region from which I come, is that the international conditions have never been conducive to achieving democracy.