Human Rights in the Modern World

Human Rights in the Modern World

Human Rights in the Modern World

Human Rights in the Modern World

Excerpt

The James Stokes Lectureship on Politics has presented to the world a number of impressive studies. No single past publication, I venture to suggest, has dealt more opportunely with an outstanding current issue than the series of lectures by Professor Arthur Norman Holcombe, delivered in March and April of 1948, upon the subject of Human Rights in the Modern World.

It is true--as, indeed, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt has told the public--that the Russians in their discussion of human rights stress social and economic rights, such as housing, medical care, and social security, while Americans and, I take it, their English ancestors have struggled for individual rights.

But it is likewise true that Englishmen and Americans have under varying circumstances shown tendencies to change emphasis: liberty to an eighteenth-century English statesman may well have seemed to be dependent upon the individual's right to participate in politics. Charles James Fox, friend of the American colonists, declared among other things for universal manhood suffrage. Will Cobbett, emphasizing the same principle in the early nineteenth century, proclaimed his countryman to be a veritable slave, did he not possess the right to vote. And William E. Gladstone, contending for an extension of the franchise in the middle of the sixties, warned his Parliamentary colleagues that additional voters were not to be regarded as representatives of mischief and danger; they were not to be looked upon as armed men within some Trojan horse, bent upon ruin, plunder, and conflagration. Here was no monstrum infelix of which it could be said

". . . . scandit fatalis machina muros, Foeta armis: mediaeque minans illabitur urbi. . . ."

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