Everything I Know About Human Rights I Learned from the Clash

8 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018  

Ian Hurd

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 9, 2018

Abstract

I use the punk band The Clash to teach about debates in international human rights scholarship. In contrast to the nihilism of the Sex Pistols and the cartoonism of the Ramones, The Clash offered a rock ’n roll course in political philosophy. It begins with seeing where the sharp end of the state is felt by regular people. Their songs speak of people’s daily lives in the face of police, the military, courts, and laws that all carry the possibility of violence. The language of law and lawfulness is seductive. It promises a well-ordered world in which formal rights are defended by formal institutions. But The Clash knew well that the law comes from the state and its most natural application is by the agents of the state in pursuit of the goals of the state.

Keywords: human rights, music, international law, punk, the Clash

JEL Classification: ]

Suggested Citation

Hurd, Ian, Everything I Know About Human Rights I Learned from the Clash (February 9, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3124938 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3124938

Ian Hurd (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Department of Political Science ( email )

601 University Place (Scott Hall)
Evanston, IL 60201
United States

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