The Concept of Natural Rights

Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and J.J. Rousseau have advocated the theory of natural rights. They believed that man had got rights in the natural state. These were the essential qualities of man, and religion, which could not be transferred nor could they be taken away.

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The theory of natural rights has been criticized by many thinkers on different grounds. They believes that rights do not become natural only by being with a man in the state of Nature because it is not relevant to talk about the birth of rights before the advent of society.

In the State of Nature, the man had only his physical strength and energy and no rights. How can one imagine the concept of rights where there is no state because he is the custodian of rights.  

Therefore, to envisage natural rights is to keep them above or separate from society. Thinkers like Burke, Bentham and Green consider it nonsense. According to Bentham, “The doctrine of natural rights was squalid bullshit.”  

According to Burke, the more innocent the natural rights are in theory, the more difficult they are to recognize in practice.

While explaining the importance of rights, Laski clarifies that rights demand their identity by staying within the limits of civilized life. In this sense, he is natural. He says, “Rights are the conditions of life without which one cannot ordinarily attain his highest form.”

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The Marxist Concept of Rights 

According to the Marxist Concept of Rights, the state is a weapon in the hands of the rich and powerful class. Whatever law that body makes, it is a cadre code. The capitalist state preserves the system of rights while favouring the capitalist system. In the opinion of Marxists, the cadre is not the goal of the state but its purpose. The socialist state protects and promotes the rights of the working classes through proletarian laws.


Like Marxism, Marxist rights theory is also clinging to its fatalistic ideology. Economic factors alone are insufficient to provide the foundation for a society, as non-economic forces also contribute to determining the composition of society.

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