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Moyn on human rights and inequality

Samuel Moyn, Yale University has published Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World with Harvard University Press. From the publisher:
Cover: Not Enough in PAPERBACK
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.
In praise of the book:

“No one has written with more penetrating skepticism about the history of human rights than Samuel Moyn… In Not Enough, Moyn asks whether human-rights theorists and advocates, in the quest to make the world better for all, have actually helped to make things worse… This book, like the author’s last, is the rare academic study that is sure to provoke a wider discussion about important political and economic questions.”—Adam Kirsch

“[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

Further information is available here.

-Mitra Sharafi

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