Two paradoxes constitute the discourse of human rights. One concerns the relationship between “the human” and “the political”; the other invokes the opposition between the…
Two paradoxes constitute the discourse of human rights. One concerns the relationship between “the human” and “the political”; the other invokes the opposition between the universalist moral character of human rights and the practical, particular context in which they become manifest. This chapter argues how and why these paradoxes will not go away – a good thing, too – over and against classical and contemporary writers who have argued for the priority of one or the other. After elucidating the powerful and enduring character of these paradoxes in history and political theory, I argue that human rights discourse only makes sense in terms of the arguably more primary discourses of democracy, political virtue, and justice if it is to avoid being a deceptive, rhetorical cover for dubious political practices.
This chapter proposes a sociological reconstruction of the emergence of citizenship as a source of legitimacy for political institutions, and it focuses on examining the…
This chapter proposes a sociological reconstruction of the emergence of citizenship as a source of legitimacy for political institutions, and it focuses on examining the historical processes that first gave rise to this concept. It explains how citizenship has its origins in the transformation of feudal law, a process that culminated in patterns of military organization that characterized the rise of the early modern state in Europe. On this basis, it describes how the growth of constitutional democracy was integrally marked by the militarization of society and explains that military pressures have remained palpable in constitutional constructions of citizenship. In particular, it argues that, through the early growth of democracy, national citizenship practices were closely linked to global conflicts, and they tended to replicate such conflicts in national contexts. It concludes by showing how more recent processes of constitutional norm formation, based largely in international human rights law, have acted to soften the military dimensions of citizenship.
This chapter examines the delicate balance achieved by apex courts in new democracies when dealing with impunity for rights violations during times of transitional…
This chapter examines the delicate balance achieved by apex courts in new democracies when dealing with impunity for rights violations during times of transitional justice. While international law has clearly rejected amnesties for past rights violations, domestic politics sometimes incorporate amnesties as part of larger peace settlements. This puts courts in the difficult situation of balancing the competing demands of law and politics. Courts have achieved equipoise in this situation by adopting substantive interpretations and procedural approaches that use international law’s rights-based language but without implementing international law’s restrictions on amnesties. In many cases, courts do this without acknowledging the necessarily pragmatic nature of their decisions. In fact, oftentimes courts find ways of avoiding having to make any substantive decision, effectively removing themselves from a dispute that could call into question their adherence to international legal norms that transcend politics. In doing so, they empower political actors to continue down the road toward negotiated peace settlements, while at the same time protecting the courts’ legitimacy as institutions uniquely situated to protect international human rights norms – including those they have effectively deemphasized in the process.
The purpose of this paper is to develop a theory of sovereign entrepreneurship, which is a special kind of political entrepreneurship.
This paper uses qualitative methods/historical survey.
Sovereignty is rooted in self-enforced exchange of political property rights. Sovereign entrepreneurship is the creative employment of political property rights to advance a plan.
Because a polity’s constitution is determined by its distribution of political property rights, sovereign entrepreneurship and constitutional change are necessarily linked. The author illustrated how sovereign entrepreneurship can be applied by using it to explain the rise of modern states.
In addition to studying instances of sovereign entrepreneurship in distant history, scholars can apply it to recent history. Sovereign entrepreneurship can be especially helpful as a tool for doing analytic narratives of low-n cases of political-economic development, especially when those polities attract interests for being “development miracles.”
This paper uses treats sovereignty as a political property right.
Stuart Scheingold's path-breaking The Politics of Rights ignited scholarly interest in the political mobilization of rights. The book was a challenge to the reigning…
Stuart Scheingold's path-breaking The Politics of Rights ignited scholarly interest in the political mobilization of rights. The book was a challenge to the reigning popular and scholarly common sense regarding the supposedly self-executing nature of rights (what Scheingold called the “myth of rights”). Rights, Scheingold argued, could be resources for the pursuit of social change; but their realization in court doctrine and legislative output was not itself tantamount to meaningful social change. Thus embedded in The Politics of Rights is skepticism (or at least ambivalence) about the utility of rights politics for social movements. Scheingold was not ambivalent about the moral or normative value of rights themselves, although he did argue that the realization of rights was not by itself enough to overcome the manifold inequalities that structure modern life. The Politics of Rights, accordingly, is clear-eyed, but not cynical about rights advocacy. It is thus surprising, and keenly revealing, that Scheingold's final work – The Political Novel, which is ostensibly not about rights at all – points to mass cynicism, alienation, and the collapse of faith in governing institutions and logics as the animating elements of modern liberal democracies, including especially the United States. That rights are a vital part of the civic mythology whose collapse defines modern times suggests that the civil rights context of aspiration and struggle in which Scheingold, and nearly all of his followers (this author included), have conceived rights may be unnecessarily narrow. Rights may also be embedded, that is, in the modern condition of alienation, despair, and felt powerlessness. Inspired by Scheingold's investigation of how literature points to this modern condition of political estrangement, I offer an alternative backdrop for The Politics of Rights that is rooted in the bleak renderings of the American character found in much 1970's American popular and intellectual culture. Such a contextualization, I will argue, suggests that we envision The Political Novel as a companion piece to The Politics of Rights; together they illuminate both the mobilizing and demobilizing potential of the myth of rights.
This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of…
This book is a policy proposal aimed at the democratic left. It is concerned with gradual but radical reform of the socio‐economic system. An integrated policy of industrial and economic democracy, which centres around the establishment of a new sector of employee‐controlled enterprises, is presented. The proposal would retain the mix‐ed economy, but transform it into a much better “mixture”, with increased employee‐power in all sectors. While there is much of enduring value in our liberal western way of life, gross inequalities of wealth and power persist in our society.
The purpose of this paper is to examine some influential accounts of the basis for Indigenous rights, consider their strengths and weaknesses, and ascertain whether and in…
The purpose of this paper is to examine some influential accounts of the basis for Indigenous rights, consider their strengths and weaknesses, and ascertain whether and in what degree they support effective self-government and self-determination for Indigenous people.
The paper begins with a brief discussion of the emergence of specifically Indigenous rights, the significance of self-determination as a means of improving the economic and social conditions of communities, and the problem such rights pose for late 20th versions of egalitarian liberalism. It then examines the liberal culturalist argument for minority rights developed by Will Kymlicka, before turning to James Tully’s elaboration of the historical approach to the justification of Indigenous rights that draws on the tradition of treaty relations in North American colonialism. Finally, it outlines a third approach based on the political liberalism of John Rawls.
The conditions of legitimate government set out in Rawls’ political liberalism are a better way to provide normative foundations for Indigenous rights in contemporary postcolonial democracies.
The discussion of Indigenous rights is confined to those countries established by colonization with largely British political institutions and populations. The arguments for Indigenous rights are confined to those advanced within the liberal tradition of political thought.
Some of the criticisms of the liberal culturalist argument and of Tully’s approach are original. The case for Indigenous rights based in the legitimacy requirements of political liberalism is original and based on conceptual work by the author.
In this paper, we examine the effects of different types of political discrimination on interethnic conflict using data on over 200 ethnic groups within over 100…
In this paper, we examine the effects of different types of political discrimination on interethnic conflict using data on over 200 ethnic groups within over 100 countries. Our results show that political restrictions, in general, significantly increase the likelihood of interethnic conflict. Additionally, our results demonstrate that restrictions on migration and voting rights, in particular, are highly salient predictors of conflict. Our findings suggest that future research on interethnic conflict should further examine the impact of political discrimination. The practical implication of our findings is that policymakers worldwide should seriously consider the potentially deadly ramifications of discriminatory policies.
What does it mean in practice to claim a right? Does claiming a right add to the persuasive power of political demands? Does it clothe political demands with a moral…
What does it mean in practice to claim a right? Does claiming a right add to the persuasive power of political demands? Does it clothe political demands with a moral urgency, setting such claims apart from the ordinary class of interests? In examining these questions, I suggest that in practice rights’ claims add little to political discourse. This is because Americans equate their policy preferences with rights. I find scant evidence for the belief that Americans have sufficient knowledge of rights to make them meaningful or that pronouncements of rights have persuasive power or imbue issues with heightened moral legitimacy.