5 x 8 | 130 pages | Softcover
“There are fashions in clothes and music. And there are fashions in politics. One current fashion in politics, all over the world, is human rights: ‘Human rights is the idea of our time.’ Everybody likes human rights. Not everybody respects them. I will make the claim that human rights are never respected, as human rights. Because human rights have no objective reality, there is nothing to respect. Some humans are worthy of respect, but not their imaginary rights.”
So begins Bob Black’s eviscerating critique of perhaps the most sacrosanct dogma in modern political pageantry — the idea that humans have rights.
Observing that human rights are conspicuously overlooked in foundational works of moral and political philosophy, Black argues that their conception is best understood as a hypostatic promotion of legal rights that were originally codified and enforced to advance the interests of the State. Examining the conceit of transcendental discovery that animates various attempts to mold reality around the resulting idée fixe, Black demonstrates that conflicting claims about inherent rights (and corollary obligations) – whether countenanced by God or nature or posited through tortuous sleights of sophistry – invariably collapse under a modicum of scrutiny.
In the course of dismantling the shaky metaphysical and logical scaffolding underlying various declarations of human rights, Black exposes the authoritarian hobgoblins that lurk within the lofty rhetoric of rights. Engaging with the relevant work of thinkers ranging from Max Stirner to Noam Chomsky, he demonstrates that, far from advancing liberty and human flourishing, the ecumenical myth of human rights provides ultimate cover for a boundless array of coercive agendas. In short, every claim of right is a veiled threat of violence.
Interlacing scrupulous scholarship with iconoclastic wit and erudition, The Myth of Human Rights is an essential work of modern myth-busting by one of the most incisive and original anarchist freethinkers of our time. This Nine-Banded Books edition is supplemented with Bob Black’s tangentially relevant essay, “Anarchy and Democracy: An Unbridgeable Chasm.”