The Rights Revolution
Written by Michael Ignatieff
Publication Date December 01, 2008
With an updated preface by the author.
Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, rights have become the dominant language of the public good around the globe. Indeed, rights have become the trump card in every argument. Long-standing fights for aboriginal rights, the issue of preserving the linguistic heritage of minorities, and same-sex marriage have steered our society into a full-blown rights revolution. This revolution is not only deeply controversial in North America, but is being watched around the world. Are group rights jeopardizing individual rights? When everyone asserts their rights, what happens to responsibilities? Can families survive and prosper when each member has rights? Is rights language empowering individuals while weakening community?
Michael Ignatieff confronts these controversial questions head-on in The Rights Revolution, defending the supposed individualism of rights language against all comers. For Ignatieff, believing in rights means believing in politics, believing in deliberation rather than confrontation, compromise rather than violence.
Michael Ignatieff is a Canadian writer and historian. His books include Scar Tissue (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Russian Album, Blood and Belonging, The Warrior's Honour, The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, and The Rights Revolution. His work has been translated into many languages and awarded numerous prizes and awards. Before being elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament in 2006, he was Professor of Human Rights and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. Until May 2011 Ignatieff was leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He lives in Toronto, where he teaches at the University of Toronto.