Unlike the pacifists and humanitarians with whom he is routinely associated, Gandhi was critical of human rights as a legal and political project. Indeed, he attributed modern violence precisely to the fact that life had become an absolute value, something that could therefore be defended in the most murderous of ways. It was only by disregarding and even throwing life away, Gandhi maintained, that it might be protected. The love of death, in other words, might guarantee life far more effectively, if only as an indirect and unintended consequence, than making an absolute value of the latter.

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