History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Red Fortyeight Group: the issue of human rights, from the early modern to the UN declaration // a limit to discussion in LFM

July 28th, 2014 · No Comments


One of the issues that needed more discussion in LFM was that of the rights legacy of modernity. I think that the early socialists rightly began to see the problems in emergent democracy, and one was the way in which rights were miscast to serve ideology and elites. Fair enough, and crucial, but the revolutionary left reacted much too strongly on this issue and very soon, visibly already in Marx in the 1840’s (in his classic early text), the reaction to liberalism led to a rejection of rights. That was an emerging flow in the whole development of communism which lost its bearings on the question, in the rapid elimination of all rights in the name of the early critiques. Simple Habeas Corpus was eliminated. None of this was really necessary.

A New Communism must begin, without delay, to repair this legacy, by seeing first (study the Wikipedia article on the history) fundamental place of rights law in the emergence of modern freedoms, and the realization of democracy.
Study of the macro effect (cf. Ch2 of LFM) shows the way these ‘macro emergents’, and rights legacies are almost mathematically pegged to the early modern, are part of the vitality and creative renewal of modernity, and these cannot be safely eliminated with the critique of liberal capitalism. The question is the original insights into the way rights lore (and the suspicious bourgeois revolutionaries like Locke at the start) became associated with emergent capitalism in the ‘democratic revolutions’. A viable communism has to respect this history to the extent of creating a communist system of rights, which can base a set of economic rights on the Commons, the expropriation of (industrial) private property. The theme, which was rejected by many marxist critics as an expression of ‘individualism’, must move to a balance of individual and the group, reflected in a set of balanced rights and duties that protect the individual and the individual from the group, and the group from the individual.
We see, incidentally, the kind of extreme of rights distortion in the current legal embroglio over the Argentine debt, now in the news, and the capitalist Singer, who is a classic case of the rights of the capitalist against the state, and the larger rights of the social group.

The basic rights of the classic early modern rights revolution can’t be so easily dismissed after the fashion of the successors of Marx (and Marx himself was one source of the later deviation)>
The left has missed the point that the true legacy of rights can flower and find its culmination in a postcapitalist system where the original liabilities of rights conceptions can be corrected in the context of a robust set of economic rights, next the basic core of legal/constitutional rights. We can the obviousness of this in the intersection of economic and constitutional rights on the question of slavery.

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