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We want things, not rights to things: Why rights discourse fails to deliver justice.


One of the things that capitalism does is to separate labor and nature. So people become one commodity - you can sell your labor in a labor market - and land becomes a commodity. And this is done through the instrument of rights, by establishing that your right to land is one thing, and your right to sell your labor is another thing. This separates the relationship between nature and people, and this is what 'rights' goes on to do in every sphere of life.

Law scholar Radha D'Souza explains why the liberal rights framework fails to deliver justice under global capitalism - from the post-WW2 neoliberal supremacy of economic interests over social and political claims to power, to the ways social justice movements cede power to capital and aid in the commodification of the people and places they seek to protect through rights discourse.

Radha is author of What's Wrong with Rights? Social Movements, Law and Liberal Imaginations from Pluto Press.

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Radha D'Souza

Radha D'Souza a social justice activist, a writer, critic and commentator, and teaches law at the University of Westminster, London.


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