Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Human Rights vs Exploitation Its relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

The concept of human rights has evolved greatly in the past few centuries. The first generation of human rights, civil and political rights, played an historical role in the American and French Revolutions, and were enshrined in the documents they produced. As Lenin observed, "The great French revolutionaries served the interests of the bourgeoisie" [in other words, the interests of the capitalist class]. "It laid down for the whole world such firm foundations of bourgeois democracy, of bourgeois freedom, that they could never be uprooted." In their Declaration of Independance from French colonialism in 1945, Ho Chi Minh and the other Vietnamese revolutionaries began by quoting from the American and French Revolutions.

Later came the second generation of human rights, economic, social and cultural rights. They were inspired by movements following the Communist Manifesto, and were first formally recognized by the Russian and Mexican revolutions.

The covenant of the League of Nations had no provision for human rights, and it was left for the United Nations in 1948 to adopt, for the first time, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The capitalist countries wanted to restrict it to civil and political rights, but the socialist countries insisted on including economic, social and cultural rights. Although the European countries eventually ratified the covenant for economic, social and cultural rights, the United States has refused to do so, because it includes such rights as the right to employment with "just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worth of human dignity" as well as the rights to housing and medical care and the right to form and join trade unions.

The second generation rights (economic, social and cultural), can only be attained in full under socialism, because capitalism, by its very nature, requires economic, social and cultural exploitation of the worker by the capitalist. For this reason, the human rights claims of the capitalist countries are hypocritical. As Nelson Mandela has said, "we must warn against the language of rights being used to conceal attempts to maintain, in one form or another, the power, privileges or special status of one racial group. The Bill of Rights cannot be a device to secure the political or economic subordination of the majority or the minority ... We must address the issues of poverty, want, deprivation and inequality in accordance with international standards which recognise the indivisibility of human rights. The right to vote, without food, shelter and health care will create the appearance of equality and justice, while actual inequality is entrenched. We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom."

A third generation of human rights has been proposed by the countries who gained their liberation from European and American colonialism after World War II (for sources, see the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights Articles 19-24:

** the right to political, economic, social, and cultural self-determination;

** the right to economic and social development;

** the right to participate in and benefit from "the common heritage of mankind" (shared Earth-space resources; scientific, technical, and other information and progress; and cultural traditions, sites, and monuments);

** the right to peace;

** the right to a healthy and sustainable environment;

Third-generation rights are collective rights not of individuals but of peoples. To be fully respected, these rights will require a new international order with justice and equality between the rich and the poor nations. As Mandela has said: "The failure to achieve the vision contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights finds dramatic expression in the contrast between wealth and poverty which characterises the divide between the countries of the North and the countries of the South and within individual countries in all hemispheres."

Human rights come only through participation. This is made clear by Nelson Mandela in his speech to workers on Mayday: "we must dispel the idea that change can come from government alone, while our people wait passively for delivery. As we were our own liberators, so too must we change our own lives for the better. However good our new laws may be on paper, they must be implemented and enforced before they bring benefits to workers and others. However good the policies of the government are, nothing will come of them without the active participation of each and every one of us."

Following Mandela's remarks to their natural conclusion, the ultimate participation is revolution.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Discussion Board Forum on Human Rights vs Exploitation:

discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines