Human Rights in World History takes a global historical perspective to examine the emergence of this dilemma and its constituent concepts. Beginning with premodern features compatible with a human rights approach, including religious doctrines and natural rights ideas, it goes on to describe the rise of the first modern-style human rights statements, associated with the Enlightenment and contemporary antislavery and revolutionary fervor. Along the way, it explores ongoing contrasts in the liberal approach, between sincere commitments to human rights and a recurrent sense that certain types of people had to be denied common rights because of their perceived backwardness and need to be "civilized". These contrasts find clear echo in later years with the contradictions between the pursuit of human rights goals and the spread of Western imperialism.
By the second half of the 20th century, human rights frameworks had become absorbed into key global institutions and conventions, and their arguments had expanded to embrace multiple new causes. In today’s postcolonial world, and with the rise of more powerful regional governments, the tension between universal human rights arguments and local opposition or backlash is more clearly delineated than ever but no closer to satisfactory resolution.
This is a current language version of John Stuart Mill’s classic 1859 essay – translating the work into modern English to improve its readability and understandability. The translation is substantive but retains original word order and grammar as far as possible.
Mill's main concern in the book is individual liberty. He argues that public authorities have no business restricting individual liberty except to prevent injury to others. However, he fully knows personal freedom is only a part of freedom: people live in societies and their personal liberty depends on (and contributes to) economic and political institutional freedom.
2. Liberty of thought and discussion
3. Individuality: One element of well-being
4. The limits to the authority of society over the individual
“Chomsky is a global phenomenon. . . . He may be the most widely read American voice on foreign policy on the planet.” —The New York Times Book Review
As a nineteen-year-old undergraduate in 1947, Noam Chomsky was deeply affected by articles about the responsibility of intellectuals written by Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review and then of Politics. Twenty years later, as the Vietnam War was escalating, Chomsky turned to the question himself, noting that “intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments” and to analyze their “often hidden intentions.”
Originally published in the New York Review of Books, Chomsky’s essay eviscerated the “hypocritical moralism of the past” (such as when Woodrow Wilson set out to teach Latin Americans “the art of good government”) and exposed the destructive policies in Vietnam and the role of intellectuals in justifying them.
Chomsky then turns to the “war on terror” and “enhanced interrogation” of the Bush years in “The Responsibility of Intellectuals Redux,” an essay written on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. As relevant now as it was in 1967, The Responsibility of Intellectuals reminds us that “privilege yields opportunity and opportunity confers responsibilities.”
In examining the curious history of anthropology's engagement with human rights, this book moves from more traditional anthropological topics within the broader human rights community—for example, relativism and the problem of culture—to consider a wider range of theoretical and empirical topics. Among others, it examines the link between anthropology and the emergence of "neoliberal" human rights, explores the claim that anthropology has played an important role in legitimizing these rights, and gauges whether or not this is evidence of anthropology's potential to transform human rights theory and practice more generally.