International Human Rights Day, December 10: The fight for rights requires modern definitions

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration, the most translated document in the world, is available in more than 500 languages.[1]

Today, those who have usurped power by force are trampling rights in the mud as never before. They can do so because they control power and exercise it in their favour. They use this power to deprive people of an outlook which they can use to guide their lives. One way this is done is by defining rights on a civil basis according to which rights have “reasonable limits” and can be given and taken away. Civil rights are granted today in the same way that privileges were granted or denied by the ruling powers in medieval times.For this reason, the working people must affirm their rights in a manner which clearly stipulates that rights belong to them because they are human beings who require these things to do their duty to society and to flourish. A modern definition of rights declares that people have rights by virtue of being human. The struggle to affirm this definition for all humanity is central at this time.

Within the current situation, the powers that be accord rights only in so far as those rights do not infringe upon the property and hereditary rights of those who own and control the productive forces and the state. The working class can bring its claims to the fore and enforce them only through sustained and determined actions with analysis based on its own independent efforts, thinking, theory, and institutions of its own creation. It must develop its own outlook and conception of rights in class struggle against the ruling ideas and outlook of the imperialist class who own and control the socialized productive forces and state.

The working class can only succeed in liberating, itself and gain and maintain control of the socialized productive forces to use to guarantee the well-being and rights of all, if it succeeds in liberating all humanity from class privilege and oppression and destroys all remnants of property relations in favour of human relations between humans and humans, and humans and nature. This objective necessity to liberate all humanity so that the working class can free itself and society from the consequences of class privilege underscores the modern definition that people have rights by virtue of being human.

The people cannot be denied their rights or have them restricted. It is through affirming rights that transformations take place which humanize the natural and social environment. The bourgeoisie argues that security requires curtailing rights. It argues that prosperity requires subordinating all decision-making to the demands of the rich to get richer. It is irrational and desperate. It tries to control what it cannot control on the basis of force, by criminalizing conscience, speech, association and the demands of the working people for what belongs to them by right, as the producers and reproducers of social life.

As we approach the new year, more than ever individual workers and their collectives must assume their social responsibility to themselves and others to build the new. A crucial front of work will be to fight on the basis of a modern definition of rights which clearly reveals that the old definition of rights which defends class privilege cannot help the people in any way.

Join with others to base the fight for rights on modern definitions which recognize the peoples’ right to be. The fundamental task today is to humanize the natural and social environment as the alternative to the destruction that the rulers are imposing on the entire world in the name of a free market, a multi-party democracy and human rights.


1. For the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted at the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, click here.

TML Weekly, December 9, 2017 – No. 40

1 Comment

Filed under Working Class

One response to “International Human Rights Day, December 10: The fight for rights requires modern definitions

  1. Denis Rancourt

    Interesting Marxist analysis of human rights. I offer my this analysis to the discussion:


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