Beyond Human Rights is the second in an ongoing series of English translations of Alain de Benoist's works to be published by Arktos.
Alain de Benoist begins Beyond Human Rights with an examination of the origins of the concept of 'human rights' in European Antiquity, in which rights were defined in terms of the individual's relationship to his community, and were understood as being exclusive to that community alone. This changed with the coming of Christianity to Europe, after which rights were redefined as a universal concept derived from the idea of each individual as the possessor of a soul that is transcendent and independent of any social identity. This culminated in the Enlightenment belief in 'natural rights', which found its practical expression in the doctrines emerging from the American and French revolutions, in which all individuals were said to possess rights simply by virtue of the fact of their being human. In turn, laws issued by the State came to be viewed as negative impositions upon the naturally independent individual.
De Benoist deconstructs this idea and shows how the myth of a 'natural man' who possesses rights independent of his community is indefensible, and how this conception of rights has, in modern times, led to their use as a weapon by stronger nations to bludgeon those weaker states which do not conform to the Western liberal-democratic form of rights, as we have recently seen in action in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya. As such, he presents us with a crucial critique of one of the major issues of our time.
Alain de Benoist is the leading philosopher behind the European 'New Right' movement (a label which de Benoist himself rejects, perceiving himself to not fit into the usual Left/Right dichotomy), a metapolitical school of thought which he helped to found in France in 1968 with the establishment of GRECE (Research and Study Group for European Civilisation). He continues to write and give lectures and interviews. He lives in Paris. The Arktos edition of his book, The Problem of Democracy, was also published in 2011.
Alain de Benoist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Alan de Benoist is that rarest of literary creatures, a French political philosopher not stuck in 1968 and willing to think outside of the box. In this slim work de Benoist deals very frankly on the subject of human rights and shows that there is more than meets the eyes.
One has to think about recent history after the fall of the Soviet Union to notice something is wrong with the implementation of human rights in the world. The most notable examples is the conflict in Yugoslavia following the death of Marshall Tito and the expulsion of Muammar Gaddafi and the wholesale destruction of the State of Lybia. Both instances were carried out by NATO troops and other armed forces and both were instigated in the name of human rights. For all of us old enough to remember, these and other examples are demonstrations of one of the paradoxes of the Vietnam War, where villages were destroyed to “save” them. de Benoist accordingly takes an unflinching look at these and other...
Alain de Benoist is a controversial French intellectual, often seen as the leader of the “New Right”, a small but well-known school of thought centered on the GRECE think tank. I don't consider myself an expert on his thought, so the following remarks are preliminary only. While I can't say I like De Benoist's broadside against human rights, he does raise a number of important, interesting and sometimes disturbing points. De Benoist is opposed to liberal human rights since they make the individual sovereign in relation to society or the community. The most important political problem becomes how to defend the individual and his private sphere against the state or the collective (any collective), and thereby to safe-guard his “rights”. These “rights” tend to multiply over time, and eventually become demands *on* the state, which responds by totalitarian interventions both home and abroad against everything that supposedly threatens the unlimited...
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