It is increasingly common to claim that international human rights law is a neoliberal phenomenon. And certainly the common timing is right: the human rights revolution and the victory of market fundamentalism have been simultaneous. In an important new essay, Marxist international lawyer Susan Marks compares Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine with my own recent history of international human rights, which emphasizes the 1970s as the moment of breakthrough for their ascent. Both histories, Marks observes, ascribe the newfound visibility of human rights to their promise to transcend formerly attractive political options east and west that seemed inadequate or even dangerous. "For her too," Marks acknowledges of Klein's treatment, "the human rights movement as we know it today took shape during the 1970s. And for her too, a defining characteristic of the new movement was its non-political creed."
Date of Authorship for this Version
Moyn, Samuel, "A Powerless Companion: Human Rights in the Age of Neoliberalism" (2014). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5215.