Unifying factor - equality
Can't look to liberty to understand the social bond, but must look towards equality
Paradox - quantitative inequalities are growing (economic equalities) but on the other hand you have
social equalities that are growing, ie. Qualitative equalites.
Differences in nature have historically played a inferious role. Ie. Slavery , women
The notion of human right is today the common political and moral reference in the west.
The relationship between human rights and politics
o Even conservatives believe human rights should be extended as much as possible.
Human rights is rare and recent
o Before the 17th century there is no notion of human rights
o Both socialist and conservatives will attack human rights, and because they are the focus of a
sustained attack they should not be taken for granted and they are more fragile than they appear.
o It is only around 1970's-80's that human rights will rally support in the West
o The ultimate triumph of human right will have to do with a particular issue in the 1970's
Communist rule in the USSR and Eastern block countries
Known as the dissidents; citizens who decided to resist the autocratic rule of communism by
appealing to HR. HR was used as an intellectual weapon. It is unusually because usually to go
against one regime, they use another regime. Such as democracy is better than communism.
Instead they state that communism did not respect HR, or even worse, the communist
regime, systematically abuses HR. This abuse illustrated the illegitimacy of this regime.
They were thrown in jail for speaking out, and this further proved that this regime was
1975 the communist regimes signed the Helsinki Accord, agreed that HR should be upheld,
but continuous abused HR.
The recent fortune of HR is linked to these dissidents.
o Before HR became a movement, (before the 1970's) three different types of people opposed HR's.
1. Religious Critique
2. Political Critique
3. Social Critique
1. Religious Critique
In the Western world, from the Catholic Church. In 1965, Vatican II Counsel, the Church will
The Church opposed HR because they believed that the Truth is more important than
The CC it is more important to seek the Truth than it is to affirm your rights, or seek
Freedom occurs, for Catholics, when searching for the Truth.
The Church holds the truth.
The church will naturally give priority to the rights of God and naturally subordinate the
rights of man in this searching of the Truth.
This same logic that puts the Truth over the rights of man, still operates today. Despite the
reforms of 1965 and that the recognition of the rights of man, but will still hold Truth higher.
I.e. A women's right to have an abortion, the Church will argue the moral truth. 2. Political Critique
Was articulated after the American and French Rev's.