Evolving Rights or Eternal Rights?

There is no question more important, or fundamental, to contemporary political discourse than which rights are intrinsic to all human beings. It is a question that the mainstream media is reluctant to bring to the fore, either to hide their political agenda, or due to outright ignorance. This is problematic, since if there is to be any hope for a resurgence in Europe of the conservatism of Edmund Burke or the liberalism of John Locke, it is through challenging the explosive expansion of new “rights”.

Policy makers, opinionated journalists, and outspoken academics all toss around the notion of individuals having this right and that right without ever having established any clear boundaries or definitions. We are never told why something is a right or how it became a right, just like we are never told what new rights are on the horizon waiting to be discovered. I believe the reason for this obfuscation is simple: The axiom that socialism, social democracy, European Christian democracy, social liberalism, and so on rests upon is that more government involvement means a better society, while less government means a worse society.

Assuming you agree with this basic assumption, then there is no end to the new rights which can be invented in order to reach your future government utopia. A law, such as the one in Sweden which mandates high speed Internet to all citizens, is an acceptable new right to invent. After all, you’re making things “better”! Rights to housing, a job, and a pension are bundled together with the right to free health-care, global climate control, and at least 18 months of paid maternity leave. Right after right is produced from the political machine like a magician pulling flowers out of a hat: No one knows where they came from, but now they’re here, and they keep coming. Every time there is a new invention, it is only a matter of time before everyone has a right to it.

What is missing from this entire debate, and the reason for it being lost, is the ideological aspect: Are these actual, fundamental human rights or are they simply political wet dreams from certain ideologies? Clearly, this is an uncomfortable question to supporters of collectivism. They prefer it if these new rights are taken for granted, and the policy debate only revolves around how to implement them. This is what’s happened to Sweden, where even the so-called center-right Alliance only really stewards the Social Democratic system more efficiently than the Social Democrats. It’s still the same system, with the same ideological assumptions. For more on this, read professor Steven Lukes‘ works on the Three Faces of Power.

The only way of challenging the status quo in Europe, and bring back civil and economic liberties, is to force these “rights-dealers” to show their true colors. We need to ask the following three questions of every right, new and old:

1. Which political ideology does this law conform to?

2. What philosophy do you base the validity of this right on?

3. Will this new right expand or limit government power?

Without a doubt, the answers for most rights are plainly:

1. Socialism

2. Marxism

3. Expand

And then, suddenly, it isn’t too hard to understand why the supporters of these new “rights” are scared to death of an open debate.


~ by Escaping Perdition on March 6, 2009.

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