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This extended commentary looks at the question of January 6th from the perspective of rights claims and ideas of the human rights “age.” Suggesting that though, yes, human rights can be understood as “international rights” and concerned with intervention, human rights are also a basic claim to rights’ inherence and the idea that essential civil and political privileges are something all should have. To say the least, January 6th cannot be understood as a “human rights riot.” From actors’ subjective perspectives, however, we might be able to see the event and trends around it gaining succor from an atmosphere in which inalienable rights are forwarded as a given, people feel a right to claim them, and in which, out of a gestalt sense that the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries is the “era of rights,” the concept becomes a discursive point of appeal for all manner of political grievances. Here, we are confronted with questions of how and why rights have come to be intuitively invoked by so many actors and what this means for the play of rights ideas in today’s environment. That is again given that lefts and rights, activists and citizens, progressives and reactionaries all appear to invoke “inalienable” if not “human” rights as a mode of grounding any number of cultural and political claims.


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20 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Extended Commentary: Examining January 6th

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 97

  • Issue
    • 3

  • Date submitted

    20 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Ben Dorfman is an associate professor of Intellectual and Cultural History at Aalborg University in Denmark.