chapter  2
21 Pages

Human Rights and Political Engagement: Luo Longji in the 1930s

WithFredric J. Spar

In the decade from the late 1920s to the start of full-scale war with Japan and the formation of the Second United Front in 1937, Luo Longji emerged as a preeminent advocate of a liberal political alternative in China. The irreducible core of Luo's political outlook was the concept of man as a thinking being: "Where there is man, there is thought. Luo distinguished the domain of "human rights" from that of "citizen's rights"--rights that were derived from the state. Citizen's rights are created by man through social institutions; they do not exist prior to the state and cannot be conceived of in any transcendent sense. The failure of the Nanjing regime to understand the basis of human rights was paralleled, in Luo's view, by its failure to define the nature and purpose of the state. He pointed out that in the entire corpus of Sun Yat-sen's works there is no mention of the nature and purpose of the state.