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Human Rights & The Age of Inequality by Samuel Moyn | Summary & Exercise - Question Answer

'Human Rights and the Age of Inequality,' deals with the drastic mismatch between the egalitarian crisis and the human rights remedy that demands ....

Summary & Exercise - Human Right & The Age of Inequality

Human Rights & The Age of Inequality [Essay by Samuel Moyn] Summary & Exercise - Question Answer
Human Rights & The Age of Inequality [Essay by Samuel Moyn] Summary & Exercise - Question Answer

About the Writer of Human Right & Age of Inequality

The writer of Human Rights & The Age of Inequality [Essay] is Samuel Moyn. He is Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law and Professor of History at Harvard University. In 2010, he published The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History and his most recent book is Christian Human Rights. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspectives.

In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory. He has written several books in his fields of European intellectual history and human rights history. His book Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (2018) is the most recent work. He is currently working on a new book on the origins and significance of the humane war for Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Over the years he has written in venues such as Boston Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dissent, The Nation, The New Republic, the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Introduction to Human Rights and the Age of Inequality

In “Human Rights and the Age of Inequality,” is the humanistic essay in which the writer Samuel Moyn, deals with the drastic mismatch between the egalitarian crisis and the human rights remedy that demands not a substitute but a supplement. He has pointed out that the human rights regime and movement are simply not equipped to challenge global inequalities.

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Main Summary Of the Essay

The writer begins his essay 'Human Rights & The Age of Inequality,' with a parable where he has presented an example of Croesus (the last king of Lydia (reigned 560–546). According to the writer, Croesus was a very wealthy king who considered himself the happiest of mortals. He wanted his citizens should be happy and free from all kinds of suffering. But he had a problem, he did not want to invest his money to eradicate the sufferings of his people. He had collected a lot of wealth for himself but after being defeated, his whole possession, as well as wealth, was controlled by the Persian king Cyrus the Great and his army.

The author compares this situation to today's world, where there is a lot of inequality and not enough money and resources for everyone. There hasn't been any progress toward equal rights and property for rich and poor people around the world. In order to solve all of these problems, you need to make sure everyone gets the same amount of money. He finds it hard to do this in real life. To connect the history of human rights with the history of economics, he says that there are two main steps to do.

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There is only one solution to all these kinds of obstacles as distributive parity but he feels that this is almost impossible in practical life or reality. The writer cites writing the history of human rights with that of political economy. Here, there is the involvement of two big stages- The first was the heroic age of the national welfare states after World War II. The second was the political economy ascended beyond the nation during the 1940s. Franklin Roosevelt issued his famous call for a "Second Bill of Rights" that included socio-economic security in his State of the Union but it missed three most important facts: the entry of a provincial US into the North Atlantic consensus; the promise of freedom from desire; And imagining it everywhere in the world.

 Human rights suffered greatly after the 1940s as it followed partisanship and divided the world into two groups, referring to the democratic nations led by the US and the communist nations led by the USSR, which resulted in the Cold War. Similarly, the disintegration of the world during the post-war era could not bring about the desired development and human rights among nations as these states favoured 'national welfare' instead of supporting egalitarian human rights. Samuel Moyen reflects on the issue of whether or not another human rights movement is necessary and then exemplifies the truth and reality described in Herodotus' chronicles that deal with the need for a redistribution of global socioeconomic justice under pressure from the rich to the poor.  

Although human rights activists argue that human rights documents claim and assure equal freedoms and rights to human beings, in reality, this does not apply in current real-life situations. Unless this current economy and socio-political structure exist, man will not have basic and useful freedoms and true rights. 

Thus, a fair share of the distribution of wealth and property from the rich to the poor, redistribution of means and resources, lawmaking and enforcement of the fair distribution of wealth by the government and egalitarian society requires large-scale and radical movements. However, all of these are impractical and inappropriate and very difficult to happen in reality. Above all, our common destiny is like a world of Croesus, where the rich enjoy happiness, freedom and everything to the maximum level like the colonists in the British Raj, while the poor live in a world of illusion with their floating equality and Independence.

New Vocabulary of Human Rights & Inequality

parable (n.): a story told to illustrate a moral or spiritual truth 
outstrip (v.): to become larger, more important, than sb/sth 
ascendancy (n.): the position of having dominant power or control 
destitution (n.): lack of sth 
repression (n.): the action of forcing desires 
generosity (n.): kindness 
genocide (n.): the deliberate killing of a nation or race of people 
egalitarianism (adj.): showing or holding a belief in equal rights, benefits and opportunities for everybody 
preamble (n.): a statement or introduction that comes before sth spoken or written
ecumenical (adj.): relating to, or representing the whole of body churches 
countercyclical (adj.): opposing the trend of a business or economic cycle 
doppelganger (n.): alter ego 
stigmatized (v.): to describe or consider sb/sth as sth very bad, worthy or of extreme disapproval, etc.

Exercise of Human Rights & The Age of Inequality

Understanding The Text 

Question Answer

a. What is the first human rights declaration adopted by the United Nations? 

The first human rights declaration adopted by the United Nations is mobilization for economic and social rights. 

b. When is Human Rights Day observed? 

Human Rights Day is observed on 10th December every year. 

c. What is the goal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? 

The goal of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is to provide a list of the most basic entitlements or key values like fairness, dignity, equality and respect that humans deserve thanks to being human itself. Furthermore, its aim is to assert the " foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the in the world." 

d. What are two big stages that involve writing the history of human rights in relation to that of political economy?

The two big stages that involve writing the history of human rights in relation to that of political economy are: The heroic age of national welfare after World War II. The bitter enemies of the new cold war era in 1948. 

e. What are the facts that have been missed in Roosevelt’s call for a “second Bill of Rights”? 

The facts that have been missed in Roosevelt's call for a "second Bill of Rights" are: First, it marked a characteristically provincial America's Late and ginger entry into an already foreordained North Atlantic consensus. Second, his highest promise was not a floor of protection for the masses but the end of "special privileges for the few" - a ceiling on inequality. Lastly, Roosevelt certainly hoped it would span the globe but it was organized nationally, not internationally. 

f. Write the truth expressed in Herodotus’s Histories. 

The truth expressed in Herodotus' Histories is that global socio-economic justice, like local socio-economic justice, would require redistribution under pressure from the Now Offering Lower Interest Rates for International Students Who Are Planning Ahead. Ads by Send feedback Why this ad? rich to the poor by novel forms of legal activism. 

g. Why is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights important to you? 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is important to me as it works in favour of all human beings for their rights, justice, equality, equity by removing partiality, injustice, inequality, discrimination, and so on from society. 

Reference to the Context 

a. Does the essay give ways on how to stigmatize inequality? Explain. 

The essay "Human Rights and The Age of Inequality" does not provide a concrete way to blame inequality, but it does talk about blame for inequality. Above all, history shows that they are the wrong kind of agent. Don't be so afraid to trigger redistribution. As inequality grows in this way, adversaries will soon emerge. Therefore, it is better to support social equality and justice. Social equality and liberation can be justified by forming a new kind of human rights movement for the benefit of the general public. The humanitarian well-being of all human beings requires proper oversight and supervision, stakeholder support, strict legislation, elimination of factions, and maintenance of justice and equality. Inequality is considered a social stigma because it leads to quarrels and conflicts between people, and it requires a proper balance.

b. Is another human rights movement necessary? Why? 

Yes, another human rights movement is necessary as the essayist finds Human Rights is functioning under political suppression constrained in human affairs. He wishes to see another Human rights movement in the coming days due to the following reasons: People who are in powerful positions found violating the laws. Inequality has been contained in human affairs. Nepotism and favouritism are still in practice. Law is to be given top priority. Political and social hegemony is still prevalent in the world. Laws and rights are only documented rather it is not in practice. There is a need for rights and justice for all human beings whether they are rich or poor, belong to the upper class or lower class. 

Reference Beyond the Text 

a. What are the challenges in maintaining human rights in Nepal? 

  Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to everyone. International law, including treaties, contain the provisions which give human rights legal effect. Human rights were established in the year 2000 as a statutory body under the Human Rights Commission Act 1997 (2053 BS) in Nepal. The interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 (2063 BS) made the NHRC a constitutional body. The main challenging factors in maintaining human rights in Nepal are as follows: 

  • Poverty (particularly in rural areas) 
  • Education disparities 
  • Gender inequality 
  • Health issues 
  • Child rights violations 
  • Misuse of power 
  • Nepotism, corruption, bribery, illiteracy and ignorance of people 
  • Priority for the personal benefits or favour 
  • Lack of proper mechanism to systematize policies 
  • Lack of proper strategies to implement the rules of laws etc.

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