Socialism, Social Rights, and Human Rights: The Case of East Germany

Socialism, Social Rights, and Human Rights: The Case of East Germany Abstract: Over the course of the Cold War and beyond, Western commentators tirelessly criticized the Soviet Union and its satellite states for ignoring and/or violating human rights in their national territories, despite lip service paid to these cherished ideals. This article seeks to shift the focus by exploring how human rights were discussed and understood in the East Bloc from the mid-1960s on, using the German Democratic Republic as a case study. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways in which socialist theorists—initially hostile to Western human rights talk—eventually found a way of accommodating human rights with socialist ideals. It is, I would argue, the materialization of social rights (as opposed to the abstract civil rights of the West) that largely distinguished the socialist understanding of rights in East Germany, dovetailing as they did with broader notions of national sovereignty and socialist civilization. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development University of Pennsylvania Press

Socialism, Social Rights, and Human Rights: The Case of East Germany

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
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Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press
ISSN
2151-4372
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Abstract

Abstract: Over the course of the Cold War and beyond, Western commentators tirelessly criticized the Soviet Union and its satellite states for ignoring and/or violating human rights in their national territories, despite lip service paid to these cherished ideals. This article seeks to shift the focus by exploring how human rights were discussed and understood in the East Bloc from the mid-1960s on, using the German Democratic Republic as a case study. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways in which socialist theorists—initially hostile to Western human rights talk—eventually found a way of accommodating human rights with socialist ideals. It is, I would argue, the materialization of social rights (as opposed to the abstract civil rights of the West) that largely distinguished the socialist understanding of rights in East Germany, dovetailing as they did with broader notions of national sovereignty and socialist civilization.

Journal

Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and DevelopmentUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Oct 31, 2012

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