One way to look at history is to track the extension of human rights and freedoms through history. Human rights and freedoms reflect clearly the struggle of humanity against the different class rulers in different eras of history. From the days of slavery, to the modern day wage-slavery we have seen the emerging and burgeoning women’s rights, children’s rights, racial equality, gender equality, sexual equality and much more.
Today, in order to witness a long and hard fought history of class struggle, one only needs to read the right-winged neo-liberal ideas of general citizens’ rights. One of such documents is the UN charter of human rights and freedoms. This neo-liberal charter of rights, outlines the now generally digested ideas such as the right to education, healthcare, shelter, safety and so on. Even though these are by far not the reality of our world today, and if practiced, they are only witnessed in few corners of Western world. Freedom from racial discrimination, gender discrimination and rights to be safe, sheltered, educated and fed is by no means a common practice even in the most advanced countries.
These paper proclamations, despite their empty promises, are however in the common lexicon. These rights and freedoms are digested and more or less accepted by the general population to represent what is “just” and “moral” in human societies.
Capitalism has fought hard to maintain the above list as short as possible in order to keep wages low, increase sectarianism and to keep the modern wage-slave ignorant of his/her humanity and to reap the benefits of his/her labour. However, it has been the 21st century humanity that has acted as the large counterweight in the struggle to extend the list of human rights and freedoms.
Today modern capitalism does not dare propagate words such as “the right to employment”, “right to free secondary education” or “right to not have one’s labour exploited”. It is imperative to capitalism to keep such ideas, such words, out of the common lexicon, for it is the revolutionary vocabulary that is the essential for creating the class consciousness necessary for the foundations of socialism.
Socialism, aside from the economic transformation in its post-negation of capitalist mode of production, is also a form of social narrative. Socialism is also a cultural construction of a new mode of thinking, and the envisaging of our own morality: a real practice of human rights and freedoms. It is a large part of our struggle to make “freedom from the exploitation of labour” a human right in the minds of the public and not a post revolutionary happening.