The Chinese Human Rights Reader:

22. On Human Rights (1929)

Luo Longji

Luo Longji (1898–1965) was a political scientist who spent seven years studying in England and America, culminating in a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1928. Together with Hu Shi and Liang Shiqiu, he published a number of articles on human rights in the magazine Xinyue in 1929 and 1930. The present essay stands out as the most theoretically sophisticated of the numerous Xinyue articles. Luo draws on a number of themes and concepts he learned from mentors in the West, most especially from Harold Laski, whose social liberalism Luo found very appealing. Luo defends the idea of human rights against those from both the Communist and Nationalist camps who saw it as an abstract or outmoded idea. He understands human rights to be necessary in order to develop both one’s own and others’ humanity and well-being. Luo stresses that human rights have to safeguard both the physical and spiritual aspects of human existence; they therefore include both civil and political rights and economic and social rights. Also of interest is his insistence that human rights demands vary due to historical and social differences. While to some degree this makes for a relativistic understanding of human rights, Luo nonetheless believes that human rights are universally applicable.

Last updated: 12/3/01
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