Magazine December 27, 2021, Issue

A Brief History of Individual Rights

(Denisfilm/Getty Images)
The long road from Athens to America

In his opening address at the 1945 war-crimes trials at Nuremberg, U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson accused Nazi leaders of assaulting “all those dignities and freedoms that we hold [as] natural and in­alienable rights in every human be­ing.” The horrific negation of those rights — by the agents of totalitarianism — threatened the fabric of world civili­za­tion. “The wrongs which we seek to con­demn and punish,” Jackson warned, “have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

The modern human-rights movement began almost as soon as

To Read the Full Story

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content on the site including the digital magazine and archives, no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (through conference calls, social media groups, and more). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more premium content like this, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Become a Member
Joseph Loconte is the director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation and the author of God, Locke, and Liberty. His most recent book is A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War, which is being made into a documentary film at

In This Issue

A Defense of the West

Books, Arts & Manners


The Week

The Week

China’s oppression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Hong Kongers, on top of its oppression of the mass of its people, makes it unfit to host the Olympic Games.


The Latest