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Read alsoPourquoi je suis devenue théosophe
EXTRAIT:Croître nécessite de changer, et pourvu que le changement soit graduel et se fasse dans le sens du progrès, il n’est qu’une preuve de vie intellectuelle. Nul ne blâme l’enfant d’avoir fait éclater ses vêtements de baby, ni l’homme de trouver que son costume d’adolescent lui est devenu trop…
The recognition of human rights may be said to be of modern growth, and even yet they are but very imperfectly understood. Liberty used to be regarded as a privilege bestowed, instead of as an inherent right; rights of classes have often been claimed: right to rule, right to tax, right to punish, all these have been argued for and maintained by force; but these are not rights, they are only wrongs veiled as legal rights. Jean Jacques Rousseau struck a new note when he cried: "Men are born free;" free by birthright was a new thought, when declared as a universal inheritance, and this "gospel of Jean Jacques Rousseau" dawned on the world as the sun-rising of a glorious day—a day of human liberty, unrestrained by class. In 1789 the doctrine of the "Rights of Man" received its first European sanction by law; in the August of that year the National Assembly of France proclaimed: "Men are born, and remain, free and equal in rights.... The aim of political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man; these rights are—liberty, property, safety, and resistance of tyranny." During savage and semi-civilised ages these "imprescriptible rights" are never dreamed of as existing; brute force is king; might is the only right, and the strong arm is the only argument whose logic meets with general recognition. In warlike tribes fair equality is found, and the chief is only primus inter pares; but when the nomadic tribe settles down into an agricultural community, when the habit of bearing arms ceases to be universal, when wealth begins to accumulate, and the village or town offers attractions for pillage, then strength becomes at once a terror and a possible defence. The weak obey some powerful neighbour partly because they cannot resist, and partly because they desire, by their submission, to gain a strong protection against their enemies. They submit to the exactions of one that they may be shielded from the tyranny of many, and yield up their natural liberty to some extent to preserve themselves from being entirely enslaved. Very slowly do they learn that the union of many individually feeble is stronger than a few powerful, isolated tyrants, and gradually law takes the place of despotic will; gradually the feeling of self-respect, of independence, of love of liberty, grows, until at last man claims freedom as of right, and denies the authority of any to rule him without his own consent.
Thus the Rights of Man have become an accepted doctrine, but, unfortunately, they are only rights of man, in the exclusive sense of the word. They are sexual, and not human rights, and until they become human rights, society will never rest on a sure, because just, foundation. Women, as well as men, "are born and remain free and equal in rights;" women, as well as men, have "natural and imprescriptible rights;" for women, as well as for men, "these rights are—liberty, property, safety, and resistance of tyranny." Of these rights only crime should deprive them, just as by crime men also are deprived of them; to deny these rights to women, is either to deny them to humanity qua humanity, or to deny that women form a part of humanity; if women's rights are denied, men's rights have no logical basis, no claim to respect; then tyranny ceases to be a crime, slavery is no longer a scandal; "either all human beings have equal rights, or none have any."
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