Prompted by the Tottenham destruction and the Quiet Man’s timely post…
There are no human rights. There are only human responsibilities.
The notion of ‘human rights’ is a fallacious confection of philosophical concepts which by virtue of their subtle complexity are ripe for manipulation by people who feel entitled to shape society to their political agenda. Many people regard these prosperous practitioners of ‘human rights law’ as secular missionaries for Goodness because they are constantly pontificating via their house journals, the BBC and the Guardian, on how we peasants should think and act and what they tell us we are entitled to. Some of their disciples are simple, witless souls who believe whatever the BBC tells them but others are far from stupid, many but not all being fatcat lawyers. Almost all are politically committed in more or less the same direction. Hint: not many notorious right-wingers among them. They have colonised a lucrative zone of operations for themselves up on the moral high ground where they have built a robust political fortress from which to control the citizenry, to the great moral and, if events in Tottenham are any guide, economic impoverishment of our society.
Contra the human rights lobbyists, humans are free moral agents most of whom accept (and depend for survival upon their fellow humans accepting) responsibilities towards each other which, properly discharged, restrain our species’ more destructive tendencies, thereby conferring fundamental protections on the persons, property and liberties of other humans, not least the vulnerable. Some seditious, ignorant or amoral persons (see above) choose or have been taught to describe these conferred protections as ‘human rights’ but this is destructive, perverse, anti-human philosophical rubbish.
Groups of humans – societies – develop codes of behaviour by which to encourage each other to accept and discharge their responsibility to protect each other from harm. A recidivist minority must be compelled rather than encouraged to which end we make laws. Legislators in the Anglo-Saxon tradition couch these laws not in terms of Thou Shalt but of Thou Shalt Not which, although less than philosophically purist, has respectable and pragmatic exemplars in the Ten Commandments, inter alia. It is also better, if Man is to be everywhere free except where the law constrains him, that everything be allowed except where forbidden, rather than the converse, as in some systems.
Unfortunately, the practical application of these laws is exclusively reserved to a class of people (see above) who have decided among themselves to interpret Citizen A Must Not as Citizen B Is Entitled. These soi-disant enlightened ones tell us that a Human Rights Act is essential for the construction of a moral society whereas in fact the converse is true. Human rights legislation, or rather the bad philosophy underlying it, is the recipe for a moral wasteland.
To describe as your ‘rights’ the effects of my proper discharge of my moral and social responsibilities is to relocate the moral onus from me to you. You are now the operative agent, not me. To avert threat or offence to your person, property and liberty, I now need do nothing. When disaster befalls you, and also on a just-in-case basis when no disaster is imminent, you must proclaim your victim-hood. The question of my responsibility or dereliction thereof is no longer germane and need not detain those drafting your claim against… society.
This is to stand natural justice on its head.
I am no longer obliged even to think about justice, let alone my part in it. Others… the state, the lawyer… will, at your call, do whatever is necessary to address your victim-hood while crying, ‘Justice!’ and paying no more than lip-service to it, lip-service to what is essentially a moral and therefore subtle and complex concept involving my moral responsibility to protect you, including, should I think of attacking you, from my own baser tendencies.
Whenever I hear the word ‘justice’ from professional opinionators these days, I reach for my…. bottle of Grouse. Cheers. Slurp. Right, back to the plot.
Thus an essentially Marxist (in modern terms anyway, though it recurs throughout the history of human thought) denial of the moral nature and responsibility of the human person removes all culpability from the individual. The State has replaced my personal moral, social and civic responsibility for you with a brave, new, strictly impersonal system of ‘human rights’ which reserve responsibility for you to itself. The State has recast my former responsibilities as your rights.
In the same moment that I am washing my hands of you, there is an outbreak of collective hand-wringing by the Righteous and the ghoulish because your human rights have been infringed, possibly by the newly irresponsible me.
Why would your attacker feel any responsibility for you? The thought would never enter his head. No-one ever so much as mentioned it to him. Quite the opposite, for even as the Righteous bemoan your victim-hood, any talk of punishing your attacker for his gross failure to discharge his moral responsibility will be met with fury from the Righteous on your attacker’s behalf. Neither of you is responsible! The attacker, too, is a victim! Someone else has obviously infringed his human rights! It’s obvious – the only explanation! You both need help and – look! The benevolent State is rushing to your rescue. Here comes a posse of human rights lawyers, all waving the Human Rights Act aloft!
No wonder people are mystified by Cameron’s Big Society, predicated as it is on personal moral, social and civic responsibility. It could hardly be otherwise for people whose essential worth as moral agents is never acknowledged, who are never invited to accept their ‘human responsibilities’, who are systematically dehumanised by being treated as though they have no such responsibilities, who are denied their status as moral agents who can and must, for the survival of the species and the good of their own neighbourhood, choose the right and reject the wrong. These concepts anyway are discredited and scorned in cool, relativist, post-modern Britain, where citizens are taught by those who school (sic) public opinion that they are nothing more potent (God, no! It would wreck the project!) than victims – with, of course, ‘human rights’ which the State will assert and defend.
And so, in a western capital city, people unimaginably wealthier and more cossetted than our forefathers engage in arson, violence and rioting, allegedly provoked by offences against their human rights. They are unaware of their own nature, responsibilities and human dignity as moral agents, yet every one of them is thoroughly schooled in the language of human rights.
That sound you hear is the purr of luxury cars converging on Tottenham, bearing well-fed human rights lawyers hurrying to the aid of the victims who last night smashed and burned their neighbours’ homes and businesses and today are watching human rights experts excuse their recreational violence on brand new 52-inch plasma TVs which have mysteriously appeared in their homes overnight. How reassuring that the Human Rights Act is there to protect them.
Something akin to this post appears at my own blog.