A Hot Take on Human Rights & Backlash

This is something I teach my undergraduate students in my human rights course: there is nothing about the radical notion of universal human dignity and rights that is “natural” to homo sapiens. It is an argument. Nothing more.



And it is far from obvious that groups of homo sapiens with high status would advocate ideals that reduced their status, much less that some scribblers, dreamers and activists, spread across the globe would, in a few centuries, make the unbelievable progress that has been made persuading so many members of our species that we should strive to meet those ideals; that we should design political social and economic institutions for the express purpose of binding the powerful in ways that advance those ideals.


National Front party, France

Because there is nothing “natural” or even likely about that, there is NO reason to believe that it cannot be rolled back!


The Sweden Democrats party

Politics is best understood as a constant struggle of ideas and institutions about the authoritative allocation of opportunities, resources, responsibilities and rights upon a foundation of a monopoly on the legitimate exercise of coercion. Conservative counter-mobilization in defense of reduced status is as old as the success of the rights movement.

Gericht bestaetigt Verbot von Neonazi-Demo in Dortmund

The Right party, Germany

Lynn Hunt‘s Inventing Human Rights is a very accessible book that will give you historical context to understand the global counter-mobilization we are witnessing today in Western democracies (see Hunt’s lecture on the book).


Golden Dawn party, Greece.


Brexit, UK



About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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