The United States declaration of rights proclaims three main rights: right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. They are perceived as intrinsic to human beings. These principles were built in opposition to the monarchy and were supposed to ensure the people their rights, in the sense of individual and collective rights as well as political and civil rights. However, one century later, criticism emerged from some socialist scholars such as Proudhon, Marx, Bebel and Engels. They argued that the revolutions and declarations of rights were only the outcome of the Bourgeoisie's seizure of power. Its conception of rights is subverted in the view of socialism and cannot fit into actual equality and freedom. In this document, we analyze how these thinkers criticize the common classical liberal assumptions about human rights. By classical liberal assumptions, we mean property, equality and political emancipation reached by political and civil rights.
[...] When there is bourgeoisie, there is necessarily proletariat and when the bourgeoisie claimed for equality, the proletariat claimed for equality. The bourgeoisie wanted the abolition of class privileges whereas the proletariat wanted the abolition of the classes. Equality is possible for proletarian class only by abolishing classes. The very idea of struggle of classes and exploitation of the bourgeoisie upon the proletariat emerged in the end of the 19th century after the Industrial revolution revealed its dreadful consequences. This idea of potential equality between classes was gaining ground but women issue was not very popular. [...]
[...] Thus if one is concerned with liberty, equality and security, one cannot be concerned with property at the same time. He considers that if property is a natural right, this natural right cannot be social, rather, anti-social. II. The concepts of equality and political emancipation that is lead astray by the state The article 1 of DDHC specifies that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights”, but socialism thinkers argue that the bourgeoisie has set up an exploitation system. [...]
[...] (1840) quoted in Ishay, Micheline, (2007) 2nd ed., The Human Rights Reader, London: Routledge, p.175-184. Engels, The Anti-Dühring (1878) quoted in Ishay, Micheline, (2007) 2nd ed., The Human Rights Reader, London: Routledge, p.212-217. Bebel, Women and socialism (1883) quoted in Ishay, Micheline, (2007) 2nd ed., The Human Rights Reader, London: Routledge, p.226-230. Marx, On the Jewish question (1843) quoted in Ishay, Micheline, (2007) 2nd ed., The Human Rights Reader, London: Routledge, p.193. Marx, On the Jewish question (1843) quoted in Ishay, Micheline, (2007) 2nd ed., The Human Rights Reader, London: Routledge, p.199. [...]
[...] Proudhon is the one who brought the most criticizing approach to property. His whole argument is built on the ground of property as robbery. He draws two different kinds of property: pure and simple property and possession. Proudhon goes beyond the mere assertion of property as a right; he tries to explain its implications and to give a detailed definition. Actually, he wonders why Toullier, a professor of civil law, reduced the main principles to three (instead of four in the DDHC), which are liberty, security and property, as though equality were not such important. [...]
[...] On the contrary, a man's right to be religious is expressly included among the rights of man. The Bauer's “privilege of faith” is recognized as a universal right of man. He also has some doubts about the distinction between citizen and man (citoyen et homme). He criticises the concept of liberty as practical application of man's right to liberty is man's right to private property. The concept of security is nothing more than an insurance of civil society's egoism. Political emancipation can only be reached by a political revolution which is a revolution of civil society. [...]
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