"Whatever its potential in theory, the human rights movement adapted in practice to the new ambiance. For one thing, the idea of human rights followed the transformation of political economy to a global outlook. Further, activists no longer gave priority to the agency of states to launch and manage national welfare but rather to the rights of individuals to be free from harm and to enjoy a rudimentary government that averts disaster and abjection. In the economic realm, social equality was forsaken as an ideal. In exchange for its cosmopolitanism, the human rights movement abandoned postwar egalitarianism in both theory and practice."
Samuel Moyn is a professor of law and history at Harvard Law School. He is the author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Harvard University Press, 2010). His new book, Christian Human Rights, is to be published next year by the University of Pennsylvania Press.