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We Are the Makers of Our Condition of Being Human

Right — the question of our rights — is at the heart of what it means to be human. But the question of rights is also implicated in the catastrophic experience of dispossession and statelessness that are central to the modern political condition.

“Thus, the paradox of the right bearing subject, which Hannah Arendt so brilliantly teases out,” says @realaishwarykumar. “The first loss that the stateless suffer is the loss of their homes, and this means the loss of the entire social texture into which they were born. But it is the end of government protection, Arendt points out, that truly undoes the idea that even the most abstract, most formal sanctity of human life could be guaranteed under international law. A subject without a sovereign — a subject outside the law — is therefore a disposable subject.”

It is here that Arendt’s unsurpassably enigmatic expression, ‘the right to have rights’ appears. “One of the most fundamental questions Arendt raises when she coins this expression is whether national sovereignty can ever exist without a destructive tension at its core, a tension that will, at some point, give in to our compulsive temptations to destroy the very polity that gives us our rights. This is the ineradicable ‘risk of democracy’,” says Aishwary.

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