Julius: The “Human Rights” Religion

Guardian, Anthony Julius – As for the appropriations of, and accommodations with, liberal positions, the general abandonment of Marxist positions in favour of liberal or post-liberal ones is evident wherever one looks, but particularly evident, perhaps, among France’s political theorists. The “class struggle” between 1848 and 1936 encouraged people on the left to regard rights as mere abstractions, aspects of bourgeois ideology that concealed and legitimised the subordination of one class to another. But this supersession of rights by communism did not take place: on the contrary, it was by exposing the absence of “rights” in the Soviet Union and its satellites that communism was discredited.

A human rights discourse now dominates politics; there is a powerful human rights “movement”. It is the new secular religion of our time.

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