Below is a description of three books on human rights by Judith Blau and Alberto Moncada, published by Rowman & Littlefield (US and UK) A theme that unites the three books in the trilogy is that the world’s peoples are uniting in solidarity against neoliberal globalization and are advancing processes and frameworks that are transformative. Book 1 is a scathing attack on the western, especially US, liberal ethos that legitimates hyper-capitalism and passive democracy. Book 2 is an analysis of country constitutions and shows how antiquated the U.S. constitution is. Book 3 draws from various philosophers to propose how we might conceptualize freedom as solidarity and not as the pursuit of self-interest.
HUMAN RIGHTS: BEYOND THE LIBERAL VISION (2005)
There is growing recognition around the globe that people's fundamental human rights are being imperiled in a world economy that is being driven by multinationals, investors, and banks. The "race to the bottom" and insatiable greed have intensified poverty and economic inequalities, fueled migration, and rapidly accelerated environmental degradation. The fates of all nations are interdependent and even though the U.S. is the prime driver of the new economy, Americans have likewise experienced declines over the past decades. Blau and Moncada outline the fundamental human rights that all people are entitled to and the important role that nations have in upholding these rights. Americans find it somewhat difficult to accept the basic premise of human rights because liberalism, as a social, political, and economic ethos powerfully undercuts the premise of human rights. American liberalism highlights the efficacy of individual achievement and individual autonomy, thereby promoting the idea that people have no rights to security. . Human rights, in contrast to the liberal ethos, asserts that all humans have inalienable rights, including rights to a job, housing, social security, education, and a cultural, racial or ethnic identity. Under the conditions of a turbulent global economy, human rights need to be granted the highest standing.
The authors consider global capitalism, as well as the role of the global media, and the problematic relationship between the state and society in America. In the final chapter, we review the many currents of transformative movements that are promoting a more equitable, fairer, and more egalitarian world.
JUSTICE IN THE UNITED STATES: HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE U.S. CONSTITUTION (2006)
Justice in the U.S. is a sequel to Human Rights: Beyond the Liberal Vision, and the second in a trilogy on human rights. The Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution explicitly clarifies the personal political and civil rights of persons, and by court interpretation, the rights of corporations. Yet in the twentieth century, following World War II, most world leaders reached the conclusion that political and civil rights were not sufficient and they had to be supplemented with additional rights that would protect their citizens and create more robust societies. By the end of the century, most countries had amended their constitutions to include many other rights, notably those pertaining to social security, health care, housing, decent jobs, women, minorities, cultural and language rights, and environmental protections. This amounted to nothing less than a worldwide constitutional revolution, but it has gone largely unnoticed in the United States.
In this volume, the authors compare the constitutional provisions of different nation-states and summarize some of the relevant United Nations' human rights declarations and treaties. To encourage US citizens to think critically about their Constitution in light of the constitutions of other states, the authors present a draft revision of the U.S. Constitution. Of course, revision of the Constitution must be a comprehensively a democratic process, and the authors wish to show how this process might begin.
Freedoms and Solidarities: In Pursuit of Human Rights (2007)
Much has been written about growing global disparities in wealth and resources, how global capitalism has adversely affected human populations and the environment, and the dangers that a unipolar world order poses to peace and global pluralism. After summarizing the evidence for these arguments, the authors develop two main themes: first, that there is a growing transformative peoples' movement that challenges global capitalism and the imperial superpower; and, second, there is an extraordinary worldwide shift underway in human consciousness that accompanies practical global interdependencies and connectedness. The authors provide evidence for an emerging foundation of what philosopher Peter Singer describes as a "one-world ethic," and they show how this ethic is closely connected with what is called the "human rights revolution." They compare the western, liberal conception of freedom with conceptions of freedom found in the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre and Amartya Sen, and draw from Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition to clarify that freedom has both collective and individual dimensions.
They build on these foundations to address the following topics: positive human rights, collective goods, cosmopolitanism, social and cultural pluralism, and they pose alternatives to capitalism and liberal democracy. The authors work in the tradition of critical social science, but go beyond that to encourage readers to engage in emancipatory projects and utopian thinking. The worlds' peoples face too many terrifying prospects not to engage such projects and thinking.