Humans, Hierarchy,And Human Rights

73 National Lawyers Guild Review No. 3 Fall 2017, pp 129-146

Howard Law Research Paper No. 18-4

19 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018

Date Written: March 29, 2018


In “Humans, Hierarchy, and Human Rights” Harold McDougall seeks to understand why so many social justice movements form, burn brightly, then either fade or are transformed away from their original mission. His explora­tion is interdisciplinary, using biological, anthropological, psychological, and sociological research to explain the causes which bring humans to band together in search of justice. It goes on to explain how hierarchies emerge within these groups, beginning with patriarchy and then "ramifying endlessly" in other forms of subordination. All these hierarchies “other” outsiders, foster fears and prejudices, change their missions, and ultimately lead to the groups’ undoing. This tendency toward forming hierarchies has limited the lifespans of countless organizations and movements comprising the "human rights project" that might have otherwise lived on to battle some of humanity’s worst social ills and inspire future generations. The answer lies in small-group organizing, scaled to match our genetically-engineered empathic connections.

Keywords: Patriarchy, human rights, social justice, classism, racism,rebellion, revolution, vernacularization

JEL Classification: A13, A14, N35, N36, N37, Z13, Q56

Suggested Citation

McDougall, Harold A., Humans, Hierarchy,And Human Rights (March 29, 2018). 73 National Lawyers Guild Review No. 3 Fall 2017, pp 129-146, Howard Law Research Paper No. 18-4, Available at SSRN:

Harold A. McDougall (Contact Author)

Howard University School of Law ( email )

2900 Van Ness Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
United States

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