Los derechos humanos más allá del capitalismo / Moving human rights beyond capitalism


  • Claudio Schuftan Movimiento Popular por la Salud, Ciudad Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
  • Howard Waitzkin Departamento de Sociología, Universidad de Nuevo México


¿Qué significan los derechos humanos cuando quienes ostentan el poder y la riqueza en todo el mundo en realidad tratan a muchos de los que están por debajo de ellos como no plenamente humanos? La categorización de los pueblos como no humanos, infrahumanos o no plenamente humanos ha aparecido a lo largo de toda la historia de la humanidad. Pero esta categorización ha florecido especialmente desde lo que se ha llamado el "amanecer rosado" del capitalismo.[1]


Enraizadas en el capitalismo europeo, el racismo, el imperialismo, el colonialismo, el neocolonialismo y el patriarcado, las élites del capitalismo han esclavizado a millones de personas, principalmente de África, y han exterminado a millones más mediante genocidios que acabaron con las poblaciones indígenas, especialmente en América y Asia. La esclavitud y el genocidio también se han producido dentro de algunos países imperialistas de Europa, ya que las élites fascistas han utilizado categorizaciones racistas dentro de sus propios reinos. Las ideas racistas han justificado estas y otras condiciones inaceptables impuestas a seres humanos considerados menos que humanos, mientras que los que no son realmente seres humanos han generado una inmensa riqueza para las élites que pretenden acumular capital.


[1] Eduardo Galeano, Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997), 1a parte; Karl Marx, El Capital, volumen 1, capitulo 31, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm

Biografía del autor/a

Claudio Schuftan, Movimiento Popular por la Salud, Ciudad Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

People’s Health Movement, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Howard Waitzkin, Departamento de Sociología, Universidad de Nuevo México


Departamento de Sociología, Universidad de Nuevo México, MSC
Albuquerque, Nuevo México, EE. UU.


Eduardo Galeano, The Open Veins of Latin America (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997), Part I; Karl Marx, Capital, volume 1, chapter 31, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch31.htm.

From a related perspective these two groups, who fall within versus outside the realm of the human rights discourse, constitute “civil society” versus “uncivil society.” For instance, see Michael Neocosmos, “Transition, human rights and violence: rethinking a liberal political relationship in the African neo-colony,” Interface 3(2) (November 2011): 359-399.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963).

“Human Rights Advocacy and the History of International Human Rights Standards,” University of Michigan, 2022, http://humanrightshistory.umich.edu/accountability/; Besson, Samantha, “The Bearers of Human Rights’ Duties and Responsibilities for Human Rights: A Quiet (R)Evolution?” Social Philosophy and Policy 32,1 (2015): 244-268.

This lack of historical perspective has received emphasis in recent critiques of the traditional human rights discourse. For instance, Mamdani has highlighted this problem as follows:

Mahmood Mamdani” Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020), p. 21.

Illuminating uses for some of these terms include: Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, and Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Continuum, 1993).

For an in-depth analysis of the defects within the traditional human rights discourse, especially as applied to African history in general and the position of African women in particular, see Sylvia Tamale, “Repositioning the Dominant Discourses on Rights and Social Justice,” in Decolonization and Afro-Feminism (Wakefield, Quebec, Canada: Daraja Press, 2020), chapter 6. Additional helpful critiques of the human rights discourse appear in: Aragon Eloff, “The very idea of rights: a critique of human rights discourse,” Medium, Oct. 4, 2016, https://medium.com/@aragorneloff/the-very-idea-of-rights-a-critique-of-human-rights-discourse-84706f002c85; Eva Brems, “Enemies or Allies? Feminism and Cultural Relativism as Dissident Voices in Human Rights Discourse,” Human Rights Quarterly 19 (1997): 136-164, https://www.jstor.org/stable/762362?seq=1&cid=pdf-; Amit Singh, “A Critical Analysis of Human Rights: How Human Is Human Rights? Countercurrents, December 26, 2017, https://countercurrents.org/2017/12/critical-analysis-human-rights-human-human-rights/; Michael Neocosmos, “Can a Human Rights Culture Enable Emancipation? Clearing Some Theoretical Ground for the Renewal of a Critical Sociology,” South African Review of Sociology 37,2 (2006), https://www.academia.edu/29700064/Can_a_human_rights_culture_enable_emancipation_Clearing_some_theoretical_ground_for_the_renewal_of_a_critical_sociology; Makau Mutua, Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002).

A very helpful additional critique of the human rights discourse appears in the pathbreaking work of Issa J. Shivji, especially The Concept of Human Rights in Africa (London: Codesria, 1989). Shivji examines ideologies of human rights discourses and distinguishes between “ideologies of domination,” associated with the traditional human rights discourse, and “ideologies of resistance,” associated with revolutionary transformation. This transformation involves anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, and anti-neocolonialist elements. The new “revolutionary human rights framework” breaks with the dominant discourse while integrating some elements of the old perspective:

… what is being suggested for the new perspective is an ideological and theoretical break with the dominant discourse on human rights. This does not of course mean that certain elements from the old perspective cannot be fruitfully integrated in the new one…. To put it another way, the new always partakes of what is good and meritorious in the old. Neither social transformations nor ideological breaks in that sense begin from a clean slate. While the new revolutionary human rights framework moves beyond the historical legacy of imperialism, colonialism, and neocolonialism, Shivji’s formulation does not necessarily include moving beyond capitalism itself.

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Much of the information in this section benefited from personal communication with Erika Arteaga Cruz in Quito, who based her comments on articles by Francisco Lopez Bárcenas, Inti Cartuche Vacacela, Alberto Acosta, Mario Unda, and Pablo Ospina.

Iker Reyes Godelmann, “The Zapatista Movement: The Fight for Indigenous Rights in Mexico,” Australian Institute of International Affairs, July 30, 2014, https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/news-item/the-zapatista-movement-the-fight-for-indigenous-rights-in-mexico/.

Iker Reyes Godelmann, “The Zapatista Movement: The Fight for Indigenous Rights in Mexico,” Australian Institute of International Affairs, July 20, 2014, https://www.internationalaffairs.org.au/news-item/the-zapatista-movement-the-fight-for-indigenous-rights-in-mexico.

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Howard Waitzkin, Rinky-Dink Revolution: Moving Beyond Capitalism by Withholding Consent, Creative Constructions, and Creative Destructions (Ottawa, Canada: Daraja Press, and New York: Monthly Review Essays, 2020).

Claudio Schuftan, “Human Rights Activism Is a Way of Being, Not a Discipline,” September 7. 2018, http://claudioschuftan.com/440-human-rights-activism-is-a-way-of-being-not-a-discipline/.

Claudio Schuftan, “The Community Development Dilemma: When Are Service Delivery, Capacity Building, Advocacy and Social Mobilization Really Empowering?” September 21, 2016, http://claudioschuftan.com/39-the-community-development-dilemma-when-are-service-delivery-capacity-building-advocacy-and-social-mobilisation-really-empowering/,




Cómo citar

Schuftan, C., & Waitzkin, H. (2023). Los derechos humanos más allá del capitalismo / Moving human rights beyond capitalism. Medicina Social Social Medicine, 16(03). Recuperado a partir de https://medicinasocial.info/index.php/medicinasocial/article/view/1629



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