We griped about money for ‘rights’ books. Anyway, this is the first one I got: A short history of human rights: why complain, armed with the macro model and this book I have almost all I need to put rights history in context. I recall doing all this before fifteen years ago when I was doing the original first edition of WHEE in a university library. But the original research involved hundreds of such areas, and it is good to redo a field like ‘rights’ in less hectic study.
Ten more books will help, plus a return visit to a University stacks zone someday, plus the Internet. The whole subject dribbles into early civilization, then there is a clear ‘macro emergent’ in the modern transition. The whole emergent is locked and the leftist attempt to amputate dooms the Russian revolution. Macro emergents have a strong momentum: the attempt to bypass them causes an amorphous stalinism.
The correlation to 1500/1800 is exact. Rights issues come into crescendo at the end of the eighteenth century, and then receive critique and commentary on the left. But the left was too close to the events, and didn’t have my model or the necessary information. They took a foreshortened view of the abuses of rights at the birth of capitalism. Fair enough. But the issue was far broader, and connected to the main idea of freedom, the master chord of modernity. If the marxists critiqued but accepted capitalism, then they might as well critique and accept the rights innovations of modernity. The charges and satires (Bentham) of the rights revolution confuses people. If they are inventions then those inventions can be reinvented. To be sure, the latent Munzerian Reformation shows communism is the first born of modernity, not capitalism. But the definition of communism required the struggle to define democracy in the context of economics, first capitalism, then… The issue of rights abuse should be simple: rights are elastic and reciprocal. If a rich capitalist exploits his rights against the whole then he is depriving the whole of its rights. It is not clear why the early marxists were so confused about these issues.
The Russian Bolsheviks had no tradition of rights in Russia. Thus they were able to stage a revolution where the absence of rights wasn’t noticed. But a communist revolution in an advanced capitalist revolution would have to be very careful about the rights. To deprive the citizens of revolution basic rights dooms future revolutions to nullity. At the same time the whole concept needs reinvention: the rights of bourgeois property to endanger a whole planet show the absurdities that force a restatement of ‘communist’ rights.
So much in the Russian Revolution was outrageous: the wild overgrowth of covert agencies, the use of sadistic torture without the slightest amount of supervision and control, the absence of habeas corpus in Tzarist Russia, quite uncorrected by the revolution. Etc, …
The issue of private property (the large-scale Industrial Complex) is touch and go, perhaps, but it hardly concerns the majority. So the transition need hardly erode populist communism. Some robust economic rights could seal the deal with the Universal Class.
As we study the macro effect we see the clear correlation with ‘democracy’, however compromised, and rights: that sling shot action of the macro transition makes them dangerous to eliminate. That was possible in Russia, but in the larger zone of modernity that was the wrong approach. Russian was a sidewinder to modernity, and a distant one at that. It eseentially had no modern transition, save by diffusion from the core zone. That made the communist revolution misleading: it became the defacto ‘modern transition’ in pill size for Alice: injest and grow big. But the finer stages of the modern transition were not there. But then inexplicably the Russian sidewinder took over in the Novel, and got in on the last hurrah of the classical music revolution. Strange case, then, Russia. Those two hints show Russian history hides a confusing descant on modernity. Its place in the next phase of communism will be crucial.