Experiencing ‘Human Rights’ as a Liberal Grift
I was reading about J.K. Rowling pushing back against trans rights last week, sending a case of champagne to a feminist activist. I thought to myself that, for a feminist like Rowling, there is nothing wrong with "rights" except that transgenders in women's bathrooms is a bridge too far.
But that made me wonder about "human rights" as a Thing. For instance, when did "human rights" first become a Thing? Google's Ngram says 1945.
The 1940s bump was because of the UN and the Human Rights Declaration after World War II. And then the 1970s. That aligns with the Helsinki Accords and also with "gay rights."
And do you notice that "human rights" emerges at the moment that the educated class came to think that nationalism equals Nazism equals eeeuw, the moment when all educated, evolved people had come to think not of nations and races and tribes, but the whole of humanity living in peace under the beneficent globalist Oz? Wicked nationalist witches need not apply.
Reviewing my blog, I find that I have not written about "human rights" except when mentioning some "Human Rights Commission." No so La Wik. Its Human Rights page has a panel on the right that lists about 30 topics on Human Rights, from Accused Rights to Youth Rights.
But then I never write about "natural rights" either. Which is odd because "natural rights" is a conservative thing, about the proper limits to government.
For some reason there is no Wiki item under "Commoner Rights," that everyone understands is about the right of ordinary middle-class Commoners to live free of being bullied and canceled by puffed-up Twitter Trust & Safety bureaucrats in the pre-Musk regime.
By the way, have we reached the point on "human rights" of which Eric Hoffer speaks?
What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.
He forgot to say "NGO."
Yes, but whatabout Rowling's Women's Rights? In ancient Egypt, La Wik tells us, land was passed down from mother to daughter. Then we come to Greece and Rome.
Roman law, similar to Athenian law, was created by men in favor of men. Women had no public voice and no public role, which only improved after the 1st century to the 6th century BCE.
OMG, the patriarchy! Except that, for me, "Women expect to be protected." And once you see that, you can't unsee it. I got into trouble on this at dinner the other day. No, said my friend, my wife is an "independent woman," (just like Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex). But then whatabout the two-thirds of unmarried women that vote Democrat. How "independent" are they?
For me, the question of "women's rights" and women being oppressed is problematic. Because how much of it is male domination and how much is women expecting to be protected? Right now, our rulers demand on the one hand diversity and equity and women in executive leadership. On the other hand, educated women expect to be protected: from sexual harassment, from hate speech, from microaggressions, from hateful far-right conspiracists on social media, and from transgenders in women's bathrooms.
Then there is the question of women faculty at law schools.
A large number of junior ranking faculty… who are largely female, want to talk about anything but traditional law. Their focus is instead on abortion, parenting, racism, sexism, human rights violations and the environment.
And you notice that most of the peaceful protesters at peaceful protests these days are pretty young women.
So when we talk about human rights and women's rights, what are we talking about, exactly? Other than whatever narrative suits our liberal friends on the political front this week?
After thinking about the idea of "natural rights" and "human rights" over the past few days, I am inclined to think that "natural rights" is a narrative suitable for people below the ruling class, that want to create a culture to limit government power. Think Sam Adams making trouble for the Brits in Boston in 1768.
"Human rights" seems to be a narrative of an anointed ruling class, anxious to protect its lower-class clients and mascots. Except that, per Eric Hoffer, the idea of rulers helping helpless victims corrupts into the rulers creating fake victims like gays and transgenders, and using the concept of "human rights" to oppress ordinary middle-class Commoners.
But I could be wrong.
Here's the Iselin version of the topic of "rights" -- to make it real simple.
Someone that talks about "my rights" is probably a worker or a subordinate client.
Someone that talks about "natural rights" is probably a middle-class Commoner.
Someone that talks about "human rights" is almost certainly an educated-class ruler.
And our liberal friends that talk about "human rights" are probably just pushing a narrative that increases their political power.
Image: José Guadalupe Posada