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Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World Hardcover – April 10, 2018
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“Samuel Moyn breaks new ground in examining the relationship between human rights and economic fairness. If we don’t address the growing global phenomenon of economic inequality, the human rights movement as we know it cannot survive or ﬂourish.” ―George Soros
The age of human rights has been kindest to the rich. Even as state violations of political rights garnered unprecedented attention due to human rights campaigns, a commitment to material equality disappeared. In its place, market fundamentalism has emerged as the dominant force in national and global economies. In this provocative book, Samuel Moyn analyzes how and why we chose to make human rights our highest ideals while simultaneously neglecting the demands of a broader social and economic justice.
In a pioneering history of rights stretching back to the Bible, Not Enough charts how twentieth-century welfare states, concerned about both abject poverty and soaring wealth, resolved to fulfill their citizens’ most basic needs without forgetting to contain how much the rich could tower over the rest. In the wake of two world wars and the collapse of empires, new states tried to take welfare beyond its original European and American homelands and went so far as to challenge inequality on a global scale. But their plans were foiled as a neoliberal faith in markets triumphed instead.
Moyn places the career of the human rights movement in relation to this disturbing shift from the egalitarian politics of yesterday to the neoliberal globalization of today. Exploring why the rise of human rights has occurred alongside enduring and exploding inequality, and why activists came to seek remedies for indigence without challenging wealth, Not Enough calls for more ambitious ideals and movements to achieve a humane and equitable world.
“[Moyn] effectively provincializes an ineffectual and obsolete Western model of human rights…Moyn’s book is part of a renewed attention to the political and intellectual ferment of decolonialisation, and joins a sharpening interrogation of the liberal order and the institutions of global governance created by, and arguably for, Pax Americana…[The book’s] critical―and self-critical―energy is consistently bracing, and is surely a condition of restoring the pursuit of equality and justice as an indispensable modern tradition.”―Pankaj Mishra, London Review of Books
“No one has done more than Samuel Moyn to unsettle the story of human rights as a triumphal march of upgrades from Magna Carta to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…Not Enough asks us to rethink what human rights might accomplish if they were deployed not simply to set limits on state power, but to harness that power for the purpose of fostering economic equality.”―Benjamin Nathans, New York Review of Books
“[S]peaks to the urgency of our contemporary politics… In Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, Moyn suggests that our current vocabularies of global justice―above all our belief in the emancipatory potential of human rights―need to be discarded if we are work to make our vastly unequal world more equal… Best read as a companion history to Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Not Enough explains how―across the fields of development, moral advocacy, philosophy, and governmental policy―the ideal of sufficiency gradually supplanted what was once an ideal of equality for all… The apparent paradox exposed in Not Enough is what makes the book another tour de force: what are we to make of the fact that our age of human rights was coterminous with the age of neoliberalism? …Moyn implores us to consider: what is the value content of justice in our age of human rights, and how do we try to rectify inequality, if the social and economic rights enumerated in international human rights law put no ceiling on wealth creation?”―Patrick William Kelly, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Why do the grimmest obscenities of economic inequality barely register on the human rights agenda? What is the historical explanation for this? Moyn’s book offers fresh and nuanced insight into these questions, surveying a dizzying array of protagonists, from eighteenth-century Jacobin revolutionaries to late twentieth-century Princeton postgrads.”―Adam Etinson, Times Literary Supplement
“Not Enough makes it impossible to conceive of the current status of human rights in the same way again…[It] leads the critical and ethical heart to beat much faster.”―Mark Goodale, Boston Review
“An engaging and illuminating intellectual history of the rivalry between those focused on rights and those who have insisted on a more substantively egalitarian approach to emancipation…Intended to help everyone, from policymakers to political theorists, avoid the mistakes of the past in order to shape the future more fairly.”―Commonweal
“Samuel Moyn breaks new ground in examining the relationship between human rights and economic fairness. If we don’t address the growing global phenomenon of economic inequality, the human rights movement as we know it cannot survive or ﬂourish.”―George Soros
“Promises to cement [Moyn’s] reputation as one of the most trenchant critics of ‘liberal humanitarian’ foreign policy.”―Jon Baskin, Chronicle of Higher Education
“[A] marvelous book.”―Nils Gilman, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Human rights do not seem to be enough in our era of unshared affluence. Samuel Moyn’s fascinating and highly timely book explores how we ended up here despite the higher hopes for humanity pursued by multiple political and philosophical movements over the last two hundred years. This is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the present age with its overwhelming challenges and breathtaking possibilities.”―Mathias Risse, author of On Global Justice
“A brilliantly conceived and much-needed book on human rights and inequality. Moyn has a genius for writing history that is intelligent, surprising, and disciplined by fine judgment.”―Jedediah Purdy, author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene
“Moyn provides important insights into how international and domestic inequalities have increased in recent decades…[His] trenchant critique of classical liberal economic and political thought questions many long-standing human rights assumptions. An important addition to the literature.”―C. E. Welch, Choice
About the Author
- ASIN : 0674737563
- Publisher : Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Illustrated edition (April 10, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780674737563
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674737563
- Item Weight : 1.28 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.25 x 9.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,425,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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The Origins of Social Justice
National Welfare and the Universal Declaration
FDRs Second Bill
Globalizing Welfare after Empire
Basic Needs and Human Rights
Global Ethics from Equality to Subsistence
While the profoundly interesting philosophical background of differences in this polemical survey of the ethics of egalitarianism are difficult to understand, it does make clear that sufficiency is a moral obligation, while equality is simply political, in effect a socialist conspiracy. Sufficiency exemplifies social justice, equality does not, although there is always the difficulty of measuring and evaluating sufficiency. Peace is not just military but depends on economics. Definition of human rights is left deliberately vague so that it’s proponents can switch from material values and capitalism to opportunity and humanitarianism at will.
The best listing of human “rights” in the book comes from, of all people, Gamal Abdul Nasser. There is an excellent rendition of FDR’s ‘Four Freedoms’ and subsequent problems of distinguishing between rights and entitlements, along with the activities of institutions like UNESCO that are still involved in the attempt to extend state welfare to world welfare in spite of world population growth and the difficulty of distribution. In claiming that there is “no general call for equality of distribution,” he pretends ignorance of distribution theory promulgated by politicians Obama and Sanders as well as economists Picketty, Krugman and Reich and others as well as the predominantly egalitarian media.
Of the many ethical thinkers cited and explained, John Rawls who valued sufficiency in care of the poor over egalitarianism is not given his due, while Keynes is barely mentioned. Peter Singer’s ethical philosophy is similar in spite of Moyn’s tortured interpretation to the contrary. He declines to use the Gini index as a measure of inequality, perhaps because Coronado Gini was a fascist, or perhaps because in this proclaimed “history” he doesn’t care about historical statistical evidence.
Moyn credits neoliberalism and human rights movements for lifting people out of poverty. In fact capitalist economics has been responsible for that lifting from about 1770 onward and in India and China in modern times. Otherwise Moyn is indecisive and ambivalent, saying that “human rights have so far contributed little of note” alternately with that they have made “an indubitable contribution.” He approaches reality in asking whether human-rights theorists and advocates, in the quest to make the world better for all, have actually helped to make things worse.
The main value of the book is in extensive ethical philosophy being well balanced with historical reality considerations, although the book stops short of modern philanthropy like the ‘Gates Foundation’ and ‘Doctors Without Borders,’ although George Soros opines that equality matters. I hope that Moyn will apply his intellect and writing ability to explaining the stance of modern day marchers for human rights.
The conclusion, “a world of Croesus,” is either a fantasy or a misrepresentation of reality. A glossary of organizations would be a help.