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3 - Experimental Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2019

Jon Piccini
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
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Summary

The 1960s were a decade of disappointment and depression for human rights activists. Yet, while far from a dominant framework, diverse Australians found that their needs to reorient or intervene in domestic political realities aligned with particular readings of the UDHR’s universalism. Human rights served as a way of reconceptualising socialism in an advanced capitalist democracy like Australia, recasting the Communist Party of Australia as defenders and extenders of the rights it had long dismissed as bourgeois. The seemingly monolithic power of the Australia’s Returned Servicemen’s League was shaken by a group claiming to be human rights’ true advocates by supporting those whose consciences were being trampled by conscription. Amnesty International's uptake was quick in Australia, but the nascent group’s novel reading of human rights posed as many challenges as it did opportunities, leading to often-public internal disputes over the limits of human rights as domestic political tools. The questions these groups posed – did the enjoyment of rights result from a citizen’s compact with the state, granting rights and the compulsion to obey, or universal and inhering in the individual through a relationship with god or an inalienable secular conscience? – proved central in decades to come.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Experimental Rights
  • Jon Piccini
  • Book: Human Rights in Twentieth-Century Australia
  • Online publication: 20 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108659192.004
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  • Experimental Rights
  • Jon Piccini
  • Book: Human Rights in Twentieth-Century Australia
  • Online publication: 20 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108659192.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Experimental Rights
  • Jon Piccini
  • Book: Human Rights in Twentieth-Century Australia
  • Online publication: 20 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108659192.004
Available formats
×