Human Rights and Empire: The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism
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Erudite and timely, this book is a key contribution to the renewal of radical theory and politics. Addressing the paradox of a contemporary humanitarianism that has abandoned politics in favour of combating evil, Douzinas, a leading scholar and author in the field of human rights and legal theory, considers the most pressing international questions.
Asking whether there ‘is an intrinsic relationship between human rights and the recent wars carried out in their name?’ and whether ‘human rights are a barrier against domination and oppression or the ideological gloss of an emerging empire?’ this book examines a range of topics, including:
- the normative characteristics, political philosophy and metaphysical foundations of our age
- the subjective and institutional aspects of human rights and their involvement in the creation of identity and definition of the meaning and powers of humanity
- the use of human rights as a justification for a new configuration of political, economic and military power.
Exploring the legacy and the contemporary role of human rights, this topical and incisive book is a must for all those interested in human rights law, jurisprudence and philosophy of law, political philosophy and political theory.
the terms of a discourse that supports the arrangements producing injustice. The short-circuit between human rights as ideology and human rights as critique is complete. In a historical first, the end of human rights coincides with their rise. Footnotes 1 Anne-Marie Slaughter, ‘Government Networks: The Heart of the Liberal Democratic Order’, in Gregory Fox and Brad Roth, eds, Democratic Governance and International Law, (Cambridge, University of Cambridge Press, 2000), 235. 2 Anne-Marie
and legality, ethics is presented as personal, subjective, an unreliable guide for public action. Lawyers profess a lack of interest in morality, a trait extensively ridiculed in world literature from Shakespeare to Dickens. As a ‘disillusioned radical’ barrister put it ‘as a lawyer you don’t have moral choice because the law makes the moral choices for you. I have no morality’.16 And a former Chairman of the Bar went further: ‘It’s easy for the lawyer: there are rules. There are lighthouses all
twenty years have been quite dramatic. The modernist divide between international politics guided by state interest and domestic politics that respect the rule of law and civil liberties has started to collapse. After the fall of communism, human rights and humanitarianism became the dominant ideology of the new times, as we discuss throughout this book. At the same time, the previously impossible prospect of a limited war by powerful against weak states, which would not risk a major
subjectivity and identity. This chapter examines the ideology of humanism in its various transformations and permutations. It starts with the history of the concepts of ‘humanity’ and human nature. Humanity is an invention of modernity. Both Athens and Rome had citizens but not ‘men’, in the sense of members of the human species. Free men were Athenians or Spartans, Romans or Carthaginians, but not persons; they were Greeks or barbarians but not humans. The word humanitas appeared in the Roman
public (and later private) power; it accompanies and colours every change in their form, content or scope. Rights have acquired ideological and legal pre-eminence precisely because they are so central in bestowing subjectivity and identity. This role has become dominant in Western postmodern societies, where human rights have become formal expressions of an insatiable and boundless desire (Chapter 2). Humanitarianism, the contemporary version of humanism, gives public expression to this role. For