Sunday, 11 December 2011

Human 'Rights' are far more authoritarian that I ever imagined.


A Facebook conversation which makes me see how very deeply we in the West are in trouble.

Stefanie Ricarda Roos

First day of teaching Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder (Master Program in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law): Great crowd of students from all over the world.

18 people like this.

Paul Wood so much of so called Human Rights are in fact restrictions on Human Rights. Cultural economic and social rights sound like restrictions on freedom to me. Anti-discrimination legislation might be a good thing for example but it restricts freedom.

Stefanie Ricarda Roos Why do you consider them to be restrictions on HRs? Only with the basic ESC rights are fulfilled, can one enjoy his or her civil and political rights. "Freedom from want" is at the root of ESC rights (see Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt held in 1941, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948).

Paul Wood Exactly the sophistry I had in mind. On the continent there is no real tradition of freedom. Freedom from want - coined because we were allied to Stalin - is like freedom from ill health, another use of freedom. It may be good but it is not freedom. Likewise freedom means freedom not to employ people I don't like. Etc etc

Paul Wood I am bitterly sorry I did not become an academic so that I could have dedicated my life to fighting "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. " -And you are on the Right. I read somewhere of German Christian Democrat politicians warning Muslim immigrants that acceptance of homosexuality as normal was necessary if they wanted to live in a democracy - which does not sound like Catholicism to me or freedom or democracy.

Stefanie Ricarda Roos Paul, you do not need to be an academic in order to dedicate your life to fighting ESC-Rights. Lawyers, in particular, shall devote their lifes to this end. Have a look at the following video for inspiration:

Out of the Shadows

Paul Wood You misunderstood. I wish - but am too old - that I had dedicated my life to fighting against these so called rights.

Stefanie Ricarda Roos No, no, I truly understand: back to the old categorization of freedom rights (negative rights) and claim-rights (positive rights), to distinguishing two sets of rights, and claiming that the latter (i.e. ESC-rights) are not justiciable, and are only restricting liberalism. Back to a world in which a few can live a dignified life "in freedom" whereas the majority of people do not even have the minimum needed to live a life which you can call "dignified". That has nothing to do with Marxism, communism or mis-understood socialism, but with what is at the heart of it all: human dignity.

Paul Wood By the way many of these 'rights' - really infringements on other people's freedom - originated with cultural Marxism. This might interest you.

Sonya Winterberg Congrats and enjoy! The Viadrina is such a great place. We should have coffee some time... :)
Monday at 22:38 · Like

Paul Wood I am not arguing that the state should not help the poor by public spending but saying that such public spending paid for from taxes is an infringement of (taxpayers' ) freedom - freedom is not the only good but it is very important and we should call things by their names. Your use of the word freedom is duplicitous and in fact Orwellian. Like lumping in freedom from worry with freedom of expression. The word freedom means now what it meant in 1800.

Gregory Fabian Mr. Wood you seem to forget that what you cynically call "sophistry" are actually international human rights treaty obligations to which states have legally bound themselves when signing and ratifying such treaties as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Social Charter revised. Violations of these rights with impunity, if you need to be reminded, resulted, in the worst case, in the death of and personal injury to millions of persons, damage and destruction of personal property, and the displacement of millions more in the 20th century alone. One only has to witness the exhumation of a mass grave in the Balkans, or watch a video of the aftermath of the Markale massacres in Sarajevo to realize what happens when governments do not respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and how important they are to one realizing one's full potential as a human being. These rights were enshrined to provide all persons in the state with a checklist of the minimum level of each right to which they are entitled so that all persons may know demand and defend their rights no matter who that person is and no matter what government is in power. And Mr Wood, I have dedicated my life to the implementation of those rights i.e. all human rights including civil, economic, political, social, or cultural rights. They are inseparably intertwined.

Paul Wood Nonsense not entwined at all - how can you equate forcing me not to discriminate against women or Buddhists with my freedom of speech or property rights? Alas, in fact if I argued against rights for minorities I might find myself arrested under human rights legislation. The sooner the UK resiles from the ECHR the better. International law is the great threat in our days to democracy by the way. Why shouldn’t each country decide about human rights - and everything else?

Paul Wood Whether or not it is socialism I don't pretend to know - and giving the poor decent life certainly makes the world a better place - but it is not freedom. It is restricting freedom - just be honest and clear minded that's all. Public spending on social issues is fine. All anti discrimination laws should be repealed

Sonya Winterberg Dear Mr Wood, With all due respect what you write is ideological rubbish. On the eve of WWI similar statements were made with the known consequences of the humanitarian tragedies of the 20th century. Having myself worked in places as the ones described by Gregory above, I am grateful and humbled by everyone who is working to foster and/or protect said rights.

Paul Wood All the rights we need to protect assiduously are enshrined in English Common Law or the US Constitution - what sort of right is the right to privacy or family life ?? It is you madam who are the Bismarckian. I met an English schoolmistress who was teaching Romanian children about 'human rights' - I discovered she was telling them homosexual acts were fine - a perfectly acceptable point of view but in contradiction to orthodox and catholic teaching - and she was paid by the EU! What about the rights of the children's parents who I doubt held the same views? Or of the taxpayers in Germany and UK paying for this? I believe passionately in human rights by the way - for me it is almost the most important political issue (no 2 probably) - i.e. the rights of individuals not to be bullied by the state including by ECHR judges inventing law

Gregory Fabian Mr. Wood re: "your" rights and the rights of all, two quotes and a passage. "When the rights of a few are abused, the rights of all are abused" "Injustice to anyone is injustice to everyone." ML King. Also, a passage from a fiercely nationalistic German Lutheran Minister who was a WWI war hero, on coming to his senses and realizing what was happening in his country during WWII: First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, I was not a Jew, then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, I was not a Communist, then they came for the trade unions, and I did not not speak out, I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out, I was not a Catholic. Then they came for the homosexuals, Gypsies, disabled, etc. and I did not speak out, I was none of those. And then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Gregory Fabian And another quote from a man on the street in Zimbabwe when asked by a BBC reporter if he was going to vote in the elections that day. He said Yes I will try, but first I must find water for my family. Thus the exercise of the right to vote, for example, can depend on the ability to exercise another right, such as the right to water which is an integral part of the rights to health and an adequate standard of living.

Paul Wood Mr Fabian you are mixing things up. I am against all dictatorship including the dictatorship of the human rights industry , of international law and international QUANGOs. People have a right to speak, to organise politically, to be annoying, to argue that homosexual acts are wicked or that women should not go out to work or that Chinese people are inferior, to spy on their neighbours, to refuse to hire women or men or Protestants if they so choose, not to be arrested without good cause. No one has a ‘right’ to an adequate standard of living or to health (I think you mean health care) though if we are Christians we have a duty of charity to help the poor. Bismarck's Germany created the first national health service - a good thing I am sure - only because Germany did not and does not have a strong tradition of freedom. A welfare state - I believed in a limited welfare state by the way - is a good thing in small doses but a great infringement on freedom which is why when Europe was much freer - in 1900 - the idea seemed outrageous in England and the Anglo-Saxon world. The rights you talk about include both vitally important ones and the ephemeral fashions of our statist collectivist post-Christian ruling class. You are mixing freedom and equality which are always opposite poles. By the way Martin Luther King was not such an admirable figure - as well as being a very bad man in his private life he was a leftist and his legacy is this whole anti discrimination culture which we have today which so damages European traditional values and self confidence and is so opposed to freedom and traditional legal rights

Gregory Fabian Well that s a very interesting viewpoint Mr. Wood but a minority view to be sure. How does that square with the fact that the governments of approximately 160 members states of the UN out of 192 have recognized the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health as human rights and have committed themselves to ensuring a minimum core obligation of those rights to all the people of their state and not just citizens, by signing and ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Further another 70 member states are signatories. Respect for human rights is an integral concept within the rule of law. Shall we advocate to disregard one of the most important tenets of the rule of law? Please Mr. Wood I have more than enough work with governments who deny rights.

Paul Wood We shall not agree. Very few members of the UN if any really respect rights or freedoms any more. I feel Europe which in the 19th century was free is much less so now. Lawyers by the way are not good at arguing from first principles. I do not share your respect for the UN run by dreadful governments, crooks and despots. You convince me that the human rights industry is much more authoritarian than I had feared. I hope the UK gets out of the dreadfully authoritarian ECHR which we should never have signed. There was talk in 2005 that we would had the Conservatives won the election.

Paul Wood The UN would like to make 'reproductive rights' human rights -  abortion. So much for Christianity Judaism and Islam.

Gregory Fabian And re: your opinion on discrimination. I have seen discrimination left unchecked for generations tear apart the very fabric of society in Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina where I lived and worked for a combination of nine years from 200 to 2009. To deny the importance of proactively combating discrimination is to allow conditions to exist which promote conflict, because discrimination is a root cause of conflict. Thus the quality of life for us all is proportionate to how we treat those who are different, and how we recognize the dignity and worth of the human person. And while discrimination occurs in all societies certain countries deny its existence. Others, instead of denying it, admit that they have it, and they take proactive measures to eliminate it as they are also required to do under the UN Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination among other international documents. That is why Europe is so far ahead of other regions in the world in the advancement of its anti discrimination laws and standards. I am now living permanently in Slovakia again where I previously worked from 93 to 2000, and I am trying to get the non Roma community to understand that discrimination against the Roma community is one of the most serious social and economic problems they have, and that if it is not addressed, it can become a security issue for all, and not just the Roma community, as the lessons of the Balkan Wars of the 90s teach us. And while there may not be a tradition of inter ethnic wars in central Europe, there certainly is always the threat of civil unrest, leading to violence and even terrorist acts. That is why it is vitally important to deal with the problems that Roma face, as opposed to the Roma problem as it is so often characterized. In the US the anti slavery clause was eliminated at the last minute from the Declaration of Independence to appease the Southern States but John Adams the Declaration s chief proponent very reluctantly consented with the warning that the US will have problems one hundred years hence and his prophesy was sadly correct. The US had a civil war that almost destroyed the country. And finally, 100 years after that War the US enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which actually began to address the root causes of discrimination and gave persons remedies against it. It is an example of what happens when discrimination is not addressed in the first instance.

Gregory Fabian And finally, on authoritarianism, my experience working in human rights against Vladimir Meciar, an authoritarian strongman in Slovakia from 93 to 98 is that it is characteristic of authoritarians to accuse their perceived enemies of the sins that they are the most guilty of. Good day.

Paul Wood there may not be a tradition of inter ethnic wars in central Europe? What about in the 20th century? I do not like discrimination against people on the grounds of race at all but discrimination in other areas is first unobjectionable (or sometimes desirable) and second none of the state's business. And what is discrimination but another word for hierarchy? I am sure you mean well but the current anti discrimination ideology which along with welfare has taken the place of religion in the West reduces freedom, disrupts tradition and has led to unhappy social changes in the role of women, in family life, sexual morality even. Slavery is not good but the North was not justified in going to war over it but this is a footnote. The Civil Rights Act has led to dreadful restrictions on freedom and the current nervous breakdown Americans have over race. The result is that we in the West no longer have faith in our traditions - which children are taught are oppressive rather than glorious - and that is fatal. Gypsies must save themselves with help from churches and NGOs not from the state. Maybe Slovakia's  problem is it is being corrupted by PC ideas feminism consumerism and atheistic modern pop culture. You see why I feel sad that I did not become an academic and argue for these ideas which I consider basic to civilization? I respect your views but strongly think you are mistaken.


  1. I think we should do away with all human rights as an absurd term describing something which is supposed to exist in the thin air. A right is something that the governing protect and/or provide to the governed. *Human* rights presume that humanity has these rights, but I know of no government proper to humanity, but only of nations.
    Maistre got it right, and I think that he represents the continental tradition very well: "A constitution made for all nations, is made for none : it is a pure abstraction, a scholastic work done to exercise the mind according to an ideal hypothesis, and that must address man, in the imaginary spaces that he inhabits." Valentin Dimitrov

  2. Philosophers think there are no such thing as rights but I believe they are a very useful idea. Right to free speech, free movement, to own property, to practice religion, to a fair trial. You Europeans do not understand freedoms very well.

  3. I admit that something LIKE these ideas may be not just useful but actually true and natural to Christianity's universalistic values. I just prefer words like humane or inhumane, rather than human rights. Even the words just or unjust aren't very precise, since justice exists according to law, and if laws are made by inhumane rulers, justice will also be inhumane - but not unjust. One may murder Caesar, but one cannot judge him, for the laws are his.

    And yes, we Europeans value liberty less than Ango-Saxons, and that's one of my criticism of continental democracies - they have no root in continental patrimony, they are simply borrowed from the UK model, by philosophers who searched for a universal model for all men. On the other hand, if the UK were the only democracy, we could've kept its model at bay by pointing at colonialism contradicting "human rights".

  4. I believe in freedom - these so-called human rights limit freedom. My position has nothing in common with De Maistre's much as I like some of his ideas. He was not the father of fascism but he was an absolute monarchy man.

    1. Human rights need not be politically correct. After the devil brought bigotry and puritanism, and they were overthrown, after he brought a new form of puritanism and bigotry under the name of marxism, and it came to an end - the new name for bigotry and puritanism was already coined: political correctness.

      Nothing to do with human rights - as they started, namely a generous, humanist guts-felt sens of humanity. Which asks for empathy and coinvolvment, and thus cannot be reduced to formal law and even less to language. My two cents.


    2. Preda, I warmly agree. (I wish everyone would give his name instead of being anonymous).

  5. I had a debate along some similar tracks yesterday with homosexual activists. It occurred that the arguments of liberalism/progressivism are almost in the very air that we breathe, so pervasive are they, but contrarian views are less accessible. I think a net positive in future would be to retrieve these views from out of serious journals, publications and academic papers and collect them, classify them and store them in some more centralised online resource, such as a Wiki, to generally inform, direct towards and be used as armament where required.

  6. people are different, they have always been, it does not make anyone less human if they are not like you.

  7. so the problem is the way you do it, not that you do it. but what I see here is that homosexuals, and other minorities that are protected in your country, here are used as scapegoats by fascist organizations protected by the state. I am afraid is not that much ”within reason”. if that will happen you have to thank the stupid far-right intellectuals, and their fascist religious dinosaurs. because these are the idiots that prevent the reason we need to just accept each other and each minding our own lives. one of this intellectuals even started to complain that we cannot have ”all human, but some less human than others”. and you have to thank religion also, which fuels hatred, turns people into bastard judges and prevents human understanding.

  8. Indeed not. But every time I return from England to Romania I know I have returned from an authoritarian state to a free country, where people can say what they like about any issue, including homosexuality, and do most things they like within reason. They can even smoke in restaurants. But all the infringements on freedom that we have in the West are going to come here, unless Romanians struggle hard to prevent them.

    1. Good point! There will be economic pressure, and all kinds of other pressures. I do hope that my fellow connationals are sufficiently smart gut-felt barbarians to know both to protect their place and living and keep life alive.

  9. I believe like you in love and tolerance. 2 women told me I was the most feminist man they ever met. My ideas are very different from who I am. I believe like St Augustine, 'Love and do as you please.' But I do not like being told what to do. Especially being told what not to do.

  10. so the problem is the way you do it, not that you do it. but what I see here is that homosexuals, and other minorities that are protected in your country, here are used as scapegoats by fascist organizations protected by the state. I am afraid is not that much ”within reason”. if that will happen you have to thank the stupid far-right intellectuals, and their fascist religious dinosaurs. because these are the idiots that prevent the reason we need to just accept each other and each minding our own lives. one of this intellectuals even started to complain that we cannot have ”all human, but some less human than others”. and you have to thank religion also, which fuels hatred, turns people into bastard judges and prevents human understanding.

  11. nobody does, that is why maybe your law-makers should be less arrogant and start finding their human buttons, people learn from each other, not from the ”law”. people are not supposed to be perfect, but they can be very reasonable. but for them to be able to do that, you need to first stop spreading hatred of people who are different - which will leave priests and idiots without work - , and let them be as you want to be. you do not need to tell them, as fascists do here / oh my god if we let this person live his own way, then marvin the martian will attack us and we will vanish from the face of the earth, our purity is damaged for ever. these people are so stupid, I am surprised they do not get run over by cars when crossing the road. I hate St Augustine, btw, he was a huge hypocrite.

  12. A friend of mine told me - you seem a very broad-minded person, but this is something about yourself you do not like. I am totally broad minded to a fault - I scored almost a 100 in a test for open mindedness but my friend my be right. I never heard a priest preach hatred. Poor priests they preach love and forgiveness all day every day and get accused of the opposite.

  13. I naturally side with outsiders and am one myself - naturally like immigrants and all minorities. But the lack of intelligence and the authoritarianism and lack of love for tradition of liberals annoys me.

  14. Good piece, you definitely won the argument. When people in order to state a point need to maunder on about who (sez them) did what in the Balkans, they are deep in the hole of failure. But I would argue the right to privacy is real.

  15. All those references to the Balkans, Bosnia and Kosovo!

    Around 10,000 people were reported missing in the aftermath of 9/11 in the high-tech, higly advanced advanced, leading first world city of New York.

    Final death toll: about 3,000.

    In war torn, second world, Balkan Kosovo the US representative reported around 125,000 missing to justify NATO intervention. By the end of the war the figure reported had risen to 250,000 and there were even reports going as unbeliveably high as 500,000.

    Final death toll: around 4,000.

    That's Serb as well as Albanian, military and police as well as civilian, not to mention terrorist, mujahadeen and jihadi.

    And it included refugees strafed and bombed by NATO jets in "friendy fire" incidents.

    Meanwhile "up to 8,000 men and boys" were reported missing in the rout of the never demilitarised garrison town of Srebrenica.

    That figure included several thousand of the garrison, including the entire officer core, who were pulled back beyond the main lines, but never identified.

    And yet, despite the fact that a large proportion of the "8,000 men and boys" reported missing had actually been withdrawn from the area in secret, the final death toll from the genocidal massacre of Srebrenica "safe-haven" was, amazingly:


    Go figure!

    -B J Mann

    1. Very interesting, sir. You might have added that the proximate cause for intervention in Libya was that we were told a rebel town in Libya would be massacred if Gaddafi retook it, even though a smaller place had already changed hands twice without any reported massacre.

      Srebrenica was a terrible thing though. The purpose of of peacekeepers in Croatia and Bosnia was to provide hostages to the Serbs and make intervention by the Western powers impossible.

  16. British lawyers wrote the human rights after WW2, which only guarantee basic natural freedoms. Tories and UKIP lie about it being old fashioned,so they can treat British people worse for their upper class friends and corporate donors, but it's more modern than the USA constitution. In Britain we don't have any codified written constitution as the highest law to protect basic freedoms, that all other law has to obey. All we have is Parliamentary sovereignty, where Acts of Parliament are our highest law, so that to take away any rights we had previously, they can just make another Act. Although we also have delegated legislation that can be misused, where minsters are given power to make laws that no other MPs vote on. The nearest thing we have to a document protecting our freedom are the human rights laws we now have. There's no reason for taking those away, apart from them wanting to mistreat British people. UKIP has the most extreme ex-Tories. The ones who voted against Labour's House of Lords reform, so their upper class friends could be entitled to be paid for doing nothing, some even sleeping on the job, with expenses and subsidised bars and restaurants. While around the same time they voted against a minimum wage, telling anybody they're lazy if they don't work in a job with slave labour conditions, for their tax dodging corporate donors. Plus they lie about taking away human rights because of terrorists, because there already are exceptions for national security, and all of those who have taken their case to the human rights court failed in their case. It's mainly about taking away human rights from British people, to keep them in their place. They would take away freedom like when the Tories controlled the media with dubbing out the voices of Sinn Fein members so we couldn't hear the whole story, while making no attempt at a peace plan, putting us all in danger.

  17. OK, how is a right to life, education, food and a roof over one's head an infringement of someone else's rights?

    1. There shouldn't be - aren't in a moral sense - rights to education, food and a roof over one's head, good things though they are. To say that is to misuse the word rights. All taxes are a restriction of freedom - perhaps necessary, perhaps not - they are not examples of freedom.