Read The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History by Lynn Hunt Free Online
Book Title: The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History|
The author of the book: Lynn Hunt
Edition: Bedford/St. Martin's
Date of issue: April 15th 1996
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 572 KB
City - Country: No data
ISBN 13: 9780312108021
Loaded: 1456 times
Reader ratings: 7.2
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I went into The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History convinced that the unassailable fortress that is human rights is a concept that has outlasted its usefulness, and I am even more convinced now.
Reading the documents that historian Lynn Hunt has brought together, I was struck by how many of the arguments and pleas being made by those seeking human rights are still being made today. They are being made to a new aristocracy of money rather than the old one of blood; a new aristocracy that is just as deaf as its predecessor. This modern aristocracy, the democratic governments and corporate lackeys of our new Christendom, uses the concept and entrenchment of human rights -- which remains unchanged since the late seventeen hundreds -- to maintain property and power.
All significant debate of what should constitute human rights raged during the American and French revolutions -- a period when monarchical government was being overthrown and a working concept of human rights was understandably important. But when the debate ended (a period of just under thirty years) the concept of human rights became suspended in a bell jar that has never been significantly added to or amended. Sure, there have been debates about who can claim these vacuum-packed "rights," and we've added groups (although never without controversy) who can enjoy the privileges we keep in the bell jar, but we have not tampered with the rights themselves, nor do we seem willing to tamper with them any time soon.
Our governments use a vague "human rights"-gauge to determine which nations are "good" or "evil." We gladly ignore our countries' most blatant human rights abuses and don't realize that there are handfuls of additional abuses they are perpetrating on us in the name of security or without naming the reason at all. Meanwhile the truths that should be "self-evident," the things that we really do have a Right to, remain ignored for great portions of the Earth's population, as well as most of its species, because the new aristocracy takes these things for granted while taking them from everyone else. If it is true "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," then those rights must be clean food, clean water and clean air, not "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," nor "Life, Liberty and Security of Person," nor even "Liberty, Property, Security, and Resistance to Oppression."
While all of these so-called rights are noble pursuits that I fully support (with the exception of "Property") and would like to continue enjoying the privilege of, I am certain and believe it is self-evident that I do not have a right to any of them.
But we can't talk about that can we? No one wants to hear that human rights may actually be privileges because privileges are, by definition, assailable. No one wants to open up new discussions about what constitutes human rights, not really, because we in Christendom have pushed our concept of human rights onto the rest of the world, and those rights keep us living just the way we want to live. They provides us with a handy illusion of civil behavior, which allows us to love ourselves even when we become uncivil; after all, we can just blame the "other" for threatening our own human rights, thereby forcing our hands into taking away theirs.
Human rights, as we conceive of them today, ignore too many issues to stand unchallenged. They ignore the possible rights of other life forms; they ignore the possibility that communities are more important than or as important as individuals; they ignore the environment and sustainability; they ignore immigration and the global community; they ignore culture and outlook; they even ignore the basic importance of survival. Yet, for all that, the concept of human rights will not be challenged, debate will not be renewed, because human rights are THE dogma of freedom, democracy and capitalism, which provides the foundation of the richest societies in the world -- the bastions of the new aristocracy.
A new revolution could bring back the discussion, and perhaps reconfigure rights and privileges in a way that is more akin to reality, but I doubt I will live to see the day (and, no, I don't believe I have a right to life. I am alive, and I will die. My rights are born of those two realities, and my rights can support them both, but life itself is not a right, it simply is).
Anyway, I wish that Dr. Hunt had provided more documents in this fairly introductory book. I'd have liked much more to absorb. Still, this is an excellent starting point and a great way to fire me up onto my soapbox. I need my own private library of historical documents. That might actually be heaven for me.
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