In understanding rights across cultures, critics tend to view individual or human rights as unique to the West and alien to community-based or authoritarian Eastern cultures. This essay challenges this fetishism of individual rights by tracing social and intellectual movements in the West that contested the absolutism of individual rights based on ownership of private property, and by pointing to the erosion of individual property rights in the rise of corporate monoliths and the military-industrial complex. The essay goes on to argue that the recognition of the people's rights as guarantee of individuals' freedom and welfare underlay struggles for political power as well as for socioeconomic rights in the Chinese Revolution. The Chinese Revolution is fundamentally a rights struggle against the infringement of rights—traditional, territorial, property, and socioeconomic rights—by imperialist powers and the ruling native class. This struggle for the people's socioeconomic rights continues in the age of globalization, as Chinese workers' are increasingly deprived of their security and well-being.
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Wang Ban; Human Rights, Revolutionary Legacy, and Politics in China. boundary 2 1 February 2011; 38 (1): 135–163. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-1262572
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