Secular Eschatologies and Class Interests of the Internationalized New Class


Secular Eschatologies and Class Interests of the Internationalized New Class


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Religion and Human Rights: Competing Claims?




This 1998 chapter from an edited book on religion and human rights argues that international human rights and liberal internationalism can be thought of partly as religious movements, with an eschatological world view of a politically unified world under an overarching moral doctrine of international human rights. Yet this same liberal internationalism-human rights eschatology can also be seen as the ideological project of a global new class, an emerging global bourgeoisie that sees itself at once in technocratic, yet redemptionist terms, driven by the material facts of economic globalization but motivated by a universalist religious vision. The chapter sharply criticizes the unstated assumption in the liberal international-human rights view that the universal is the same as the international, and instead argues that universal values and rights, determination of the content of which is asserted by liberal internationalism and the human rights movement to be in the exclusive competence of international institutions, might just as well be determined by democratic nation states. This is not, however, a claim of moral relativism, because it is skeptical not of the idea of universal values as such, but of the idea that they are only properly identified by international actors, rather than national or local ones. The chapter moreover argues that the claim that the international, rather than the merely national, is disinterested and therefore universal in determining universal values, incorrectly assumes that the international, merely because it is transgeographic, has no material or class interests and is therefore impartial and morally universal - on the contrary, this chapter argues, the international, far from universal, has all the interests of those who live and work transgeographically. This essay is strongly critical of the universalist claims of liberal internationalism and the international human rights movement, while also not accepting moral relativism as a critique of human rights claims.

Secular Eschatologies and Class Interests of the Internationalized New Class