“No one has written with more penetrating skepticism about the history of human rights.”
—Adam Kirsch, Wall Street Journal
“Moyn breaks new ground in examining the relationship between human rights and economic fairness.”
The age of human rights has been kindest to the rich. While state violations of political rights have garnered unprecedented attention in recent decades, a commitment to material equality has quietly disappeared. In its place, economic liberalization has emerged as the dominant force. In this provocative book, Samuel Moyn considers how and why we chose to make human rights our highest ideals while simultaneously neglecting the demands of broader social and economic justice.
Moyn places the human rights movement in relation to this disturbing shift and explores why the rise of human rights has occurred alongside exploding inequality.
“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… Sure to provoke a wider discussion.”
—Adam Kirsch, Wall Street Journal
“A sharpening interrogation of the liberal order and the institutions of global governance created by, and arguably for, Pax Americana… Consistently bracing.”
—Pankaj Mishra, London Review of Books
“Moyn suggests that our current vocabularies of global justice—above all our belief in the emancipatory potential of human rights—need to be discarded if we are work to make our vastly unequal world more equal… [A] tour de force.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books
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.
[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.
No one has done more than Samuel Moyn to unsettle the story of human rights as a triumphal march of upgrades from Magna Carta to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…Not Enough asks us to rethink what human rights might accomplish if they were deployed not simply to set limits on state power, but to harness that power for the purpose of fostering economic equality.
[S]peaks to the urgency of our contemporary politics… In Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, Moyn suggests that our current vocabularies of global justice—above all our belief in the emancipatory potential of human rights—need to be discarded if we are work to make our vastly unequal world more equal… Best read as a companion history to Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Not Enough explains how—across the fields of development, moral advocacy, philosophy, and governmental policy—the ideal of sufficiency gradually supplanted what was once an ideal of equality for all… The apparent paradox exposed in Not Enough is what makes the book another tour de force: what are we to make of the fact that our age of human rights was coterminous with the age of neoliberalism? …Moyn implores us to consider: what is the value content of justice in our age of human rights, and how do we try to rectify inequality, if the social and economic rights enumerated in international human rights law put no ceiling on wealth creation?
Why do the grimmest obscenities of economic inequality barely register on the human rights agenda? What is the historical explanation for this? Moyn’s book offers fresh and nuanced insight into these questions, surveying a dizzying array of protagonists, from eighteenth-century Jacobin revolutionaries to late twentieth-century Princeton postgrads.
Not Enough makes it impossible to conceive of the current status of human rights in the same way again…[It] leads the critical and ethical heart to beat much faster.
An engaging and illuminating intellectual history of the rivalry between those focused on rights and those who have insisted on a more substantively egalitarian approach to emancipation…Intended to help everyone, from policymakers to political theorists, avoid the mistakes of the past in order to shape the future more fairly.
Samuel Moyn breaks new ground in examining the relationship between human rights and economic fairness. If we don’t address the growing global phenomenon of economic inequality, the human rights movement as we know it cannot survive or ﬂourish.
Promises to cement [Moyn’s] reputation as one of the most trenchant critics of ‘liberal humanitarian’ foreign policy.
[A] marvelous book.
Human rights do not seem to be enough in our era of unshared affluence. Samuel Moyn’s fascinating and highly timely book explores how we ended up here despite the higher hopes for humanity pursued by multiple political and philosophical movements over the last two hundred years. This is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the present age with its overwhelming challenges and breathtaking possibilities.
A brilliantly conceived and much-needed book on human rights and inequality. Moyn has a genius for writing history that is intelligent, surprising, and disciplined by fine judgment.
Moyn provides important insights into how international and domestic inequalities have increased in recent decades…[His] trenchant critique of classical liberal economic and political thought questions many long-standing human rights assumptions. An important addition to the literature.
- 296 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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