On rights, human or otherwise

I am reading an interesting book, the right to have rights, which is a critique of that statement made by Hannah Arendt in a book and an a journal.

The authors of the present book critique the human rights regime as it exists now especially its inadequacy in guaranteeing the rights as declared in the many instruments that address human rights for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of Independence among others.

The question I find interesting is whether there exists a human nature as such that is subject to rights? And it is in response to this question that I find this quote by Arendt quite telling. She wrote

We are not born equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutual equal rights.

Seen in this light, therefore, human rights are not a given but are negotiated and makes sense when you look at the varied attempts to by different minority groups everywhere to assert their humanity and rights to be treated as members of the human community.

And in the same light, this quote, below, then is very telling

Perhaps that is what i must learn t accept. to start at ground level. With nothing. Not with nothing but. With nothing. No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity. Like a dog. Yes, like a dog.

J.M Coetzee

 

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