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"The Most We Can Hope For...": Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism

"The Most We Can Hope For...": Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism The South Atlantic Quarterly 103:2/3, Spring/Summer 2004. Copyright © 2004 by Duke University Press. 452 Wendy Brown clean of the danger of political manipulation or compromise, but rather, simply because it is effective in limiting political violence and reducing misery. If, in the last fifty years, human rights have become the international moral currency by which some human suffering can be stemmed, then they are a good thing. ‘‘All that can be said about human rights is that they are necessary to protect individuals from violence and abuse, and if it is asked why, the only possible answer is historical’’ (149). Responding to the commentaries published along with his lectures, these are Ignatieff ’s final words: What should our goals as believers in human rights be? Here my slogan would be the title of the justly famous essay by my old teacher, Judith Shklar, ‘‘Putting Cruelty First.’’ We may not be able to create democracies or constitutions. Liberal freedom [in some societies] may be some way off. But we could do more than we do to stop unmerited suffering and gross physical cruelty. That I take to be the elemental priority of all human rights activism: to stop http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png South Atlantic Quarterly Duke University Press

"The Most We Can Hope For...": Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism

South Atlantic Quarterly , Volume 103 (2-3) – Apr 1, 2004

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2004 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0038-2876
eISSN
1527-8026
DOI
10.1215/00382876-103-2-3-451
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The South Atlantic Quarterly 103:2/3, Spring/Summer 2004. Copyright © 2004 by Duke University Press. 452 Wendy Brown clean of the danger of political manipulation or compromise, but rather, simply because it is effective in limiting political violence and reducing misery. If, in the last fifty years, human rights have become the international moral currency by which some human suffering can be stemmed, then they are a good thing. ‘‘All that can be said about human rights is that they are necessary to protect individuals from violence and abuse, and if it is asked why, the only possible answer is historical’’ (149). Responding to the commentaries published along with his lectures, these are Ignatieff ’s final words: What should our goals as believers in human rights be? Here my slogan would be the title of the justly famous essay by my old teacher, Judith Shklar, ‘‘Putting Cruelty First.’’ We may not be able to create democracies or constitutions. Liberal freedom [in some societies] may be some way off. But we could do more than we do to stop unmerited suffering and gross physical cruelty. That I take to be the elemental priority of all human rights activism: to stop

Journal

South Atlantic QuarterlyDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2004

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