Shaming Human Rights. A Review of Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World

The primary if not sole concern of Samuel Moyn in his recent, critically-fêted book Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World is distributive or material equality.  If this were not already clear from the preceding chapters of the book, the concluding chapter, which draws on the allegorical tale of Croesus, makes it quite evident.   The first normative argument Moyn wants to make is that even if the economic and social needs and the political and civil liberties of all individuals were adequately met, and all of the world’s population lived in dignity and freedom with material sufficiency, the existence of a gulf between the richest and the rest in terms of wealth and prosperity would be unacceptable and immoral.  The second and more empirical argument of the book is that the human rights system has failed to address this gulf and instead has obligingly accompanied the growing gap between the rich and the rest.