Saturday, 14 July 2012

I constantly rail against human rights on this blog. Because almost everyone considers human rights to be a good thing, I thought I should make an effort to concisely explain why I believe the concept is flawed.

I should say first of all that though, when talking about them, I usually just refer to “human rights” for the sake of simplicity, what I am really talking about is “human rights” set-ups that involve enforcement mechanisms with the power to invalidate laws. In fact, more broadly, these strictures would apply to most systems of codified constitutional restraints with accompanying enforcement mechanisms. There are certain constitutional designs that would allow the democratic deficit to be bypassed and might make constitutional restraints viable, but none currently exist as far as I am aware. I may discuss these in a later blog post.

OK, so what’s wrong with having a framework of rules to buttress the laws passed by legislators?

The first thing wrong with it is that rules are likely to be extremely ambiguous in most scenarios where they are considered to apply. Human rights declarations and constitutions tend to deal in noble-sounding generalities and are extremely short on specifics. To achieve concrete meaning, therefore, they need to be interpreted.

The second thing wrong with the idea is that once rights are generously assigned, beyond the most elementary of them, such as the right to self-defence, they begin to interfere with one another. For example, if you grant a right to free speech alongside a right not to be offended, very quickly those rights are going to come into conflict. Someone therefore must adjudicate the competing rights claims by making a decision about their relative weights.
Both of the preceding points lead to the conclusion that the human rights rules will have to be interpreted by someone. Immediately this begs the question of who will do the interpreting?

This is the third thing wrong with justiciable human rights systems. Who does the interpreting is crucial. In all constitutional restraint systems I am aware of, the interpretation is performed by senior judges and the judges rise to those senior positions based on the approval of their peers or politicians. In some cases, the American system for example, the senior judges are subject to some degree of open scrutiny from elected politicians, so there is some democratic input, albeit indirect. In other cases, they may simply be appointed by politicians without public discussion or nominated by colleagues in the legal profession. Either way, it is clear that we have an elite perpetuating itself free from direct control by the people.

In these circumstances, we would expect that the interpretive decisions made by the judges would consistently favour elite-approved ideology. This is exactly what happens in modern Europe, where human rights judges consistently defend the interests of jihad terrorists, immigrants and "diversity" generally.

In summary, then, there are three major problems with human rights systems:
1) The rights are defined too vaguely for anyone to be sure of their effect in the real world.
2) Rights conflict with one another so someone has to decide on their relative weights.
3) The people who make these decisions are immune from democratic accountability.

Taking the three points together, it should be obvious that a legal infrastructure that allows for justiciable human rights simply provides elites with another mechanism to circumvent democracy. Human rights are a Rorschach blot in which the powers that be can see whatever they want. It is a way for them to re-aristocratise the country. But this time it will be an artistocracy of do-gooderism rather than birth.

As long as people continue to be hypnotised by the shimmering glitterball called human rights, elites will continue to use it to push their agenda on an unwilling people. And what their agenda is doesn’t matter. Human rights were invoked in the Soviet Union to defend the system there. The American Constitution was once used to defend slavery. In the 1970s, the American Supreme Court legalised abortion and abolished the death penalty (at the federal level) based on highly idiosyncratic interpretations of written rules that had remained unchanged for more than a century. How could the meaning of those rules suddenly change even though their wording hadn’t? The point is this: what the written rules say does not actually matter as long as elites can control or influence whoever interprets them and arbitrates competing claims. By using baroque interpretations of the words, and arbitrary assignment of relative weights, they can make the rules mean whatever they want them to mean. Justiciable human rights protect nothing that elites don't want to be protected.

If Europe is to save itself, we need to re-empower our democracy and explore political solutions that involve explicit discrimination against Muslims. For that to work, the human rights infrastructure that currently prevents discrimination must be dismantled. Any European in the Counterjihad movement who goes around promoting the concept of “human rights” without pointedly distancing himself from the way it is currently implemented by the European Court of Human Rights is a fool who is speeding the Muslims towards victory.

It is imperative that we find political solutions to this problem before it reaches the civil war stage. That means specific policies that can be presented by political parties who will implement them once they are elected into power. As far as I can see, most people involved in resisting the advance of Islam shrink from doing this. They shrink from doing it because they are afraid of the criticism that will come their way when these policies are explicitly articulated. Instead, they content themselves with spreading awareness about how dangerous Islam is, hoping that once awareness reaches a critical mass, solutions will just spontaneously appear.

That's not good enough. If we are too afraid to enumerate solutions, how can we expect politicians to do it? It is our responsibility to come up with specific policies that can solve this problem before we are engulfed in civil war. I'm struggling to think of any solutions that are compatible with "human rights". If the Counterjihadists who promote the concept of human rights are aware of any, I think they should tell us what they are. If they acknowledge that there are no political solutions that are compatible with "human rights", they should desist from promoting a concept that is injurious to our interests.


alas said...

CZ, another point I think is interesting about why human rights are wrong comes from the 1970s and something I have read just now preparing for my dissertation. It is written by Hedley Bull and reads "Carried to its logical extreme, the doctrine of human rights and duties under international law is subversive of the whole principle that mankind should be organised as a society of sovereign states. For, if the rights of each man can be asserted on the world political stage over and against the claims of his state, and his duties proclaimed irrespective of his position as a servant or a citizen of that state, then the position of the state as a body sovereign over its citizens, and entitled to command their obedience, has been subject to challenge, and the structure of the society of sovereign states has been placed in jeapordy. The way is left open for the subversion of the society of sovereign states on behalf of the alternative organising principle of a cosmopolitan community."

And as the sovereign states he is referring to are nation-states, it is basically the case that human rights taken to its logical conclusion will do away with nations.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Two things:

1) On a top political level (read: OIC and its puppets), countering the Cairo Declaration is crucial.

2) There is indeed problems in the Human Rights declarations and conventions we know of, in particular that some rights are 'positive', like the "Right to Education" (who has the obligation to deliver that? To pay for it?), and the "Right to a Family Life" (who has the obligation to fulfill that? What if this leads to forced marriages and unwanted immigration?).

More focus on so-called 'Negative rights' and how that liberates us from State control (or religious law, for that matter) would be useful.

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...


Very interesting. What is that text you are quoting from?

alas said...

The text I am quoting from is Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society. I don't know if I would recommend you read all of it though, it's mostly irrelevant to what we are interested in here, other than that passage I outlined to you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to lower the tone somewhat but in the application of human rights, the answer to one simple question is all that is needed, that question being;

"Does it take the piss?"

If it does, stop the piss being taken, if it doesn't, well shut up and put up.

The tricky part in this modern world we live is that so many people have no idea when they are taking the piss or having the piss taken out of them.

I for one, as as no doubt almost everyone else does who follows this site, knows exactly how to correctly and fairly determine a human rights issue by answering that simple question.

Human rights are a great thing but sadly what I read about them really does take the piss.

Anonymous said...

Paris Claims

Cheradenine Zakalwe said...


Thanks, I'll have a look at it anyway.

Enza Ferreri said...

The problem with this post is that it's titled "What's Wrong with Human Rights?" but it doesn't say anything about human rights. It does not even give a definition of them.

This is not a coincidence because the post is not at all about human rights, which is a concept, but is just about cases if its *wrong application*.

So, its conclusions, even if and when valid, can be extended only to the latter (the application), not the former (the concept).

This is a fundamental distinction that the poster totally ignores, as shown by the lengthy, indeed never-ending, discussion between him (or her, I don't know) and me that followed another, similar post.

In fact, maybe following that discussion, the poster himself (or herself) acknowledges that he/she is not really dealing with human rights at all, but only some of their legal applications:

"I should say first of all that though, when talking about them, I usually just refer to “human rights” for the sake of simplicity, what I am really talking about is “human rights” set-ups that involve enforcement mechanisms with the power to invalidate laws."

I'm glad to see that our discussion served the purpose of giving some clarity to CZ's thought, at least.

But then he/she should not call this "human rights" because this only serves to perpetuate the ambiguity and the misleading attempt - almost to the point of deception - to transfer the conclusions from some wrong applications of the concept to the concept itself.

If the poster introduces a completely different meaning, as is good practice in intellectual discussions he/she should coin a different name for it.

I'll give examples of why this distinction is crucial and leads to entirely opposite conclusions from the ones the poster wishes to reach.

Nothing is absolute in this world. It's obvious, for example, that the "right to freedom" does not include the right to kill except in extraordinary circumstances. There are always limitations in the application of a moral concept, and even a law, in real cases.

The idea that human rights must be applied in an absolute manner, without consideration for its limitations - limitations which also derive from human rights - is a common mistake made by supranational court, CZ and some commenters of this post.

For example, we have often heard that the freedom of an individual ends where the freedom of another individual begins. This shows that individual freedom has limitation, in the same way as rights have. The rights of an individual, or group or nation, end when those of another individual etc start, as well. This is why "Carried to its logical extreme, the doctrine of human rights and duties under international law is subversive of the whole principle that mankind should be organised as a society of sovereign states." is meaningless because there is no need to apply any precept in that absolutist way.


Enza Ferreri said...

Let's take CZ's own examples, which he/she gives in our previous discussion

"what do you do when the unelected people say you can't ban burkas, can't ban genital mutilation, can't deport Muslim rapists, can't limit Muslim immigration, etc. because, in their view, it doesn't conform to the written rules".

When, as I suppose CZ means, courts decide in this way it is generally because they apply each individual rights absolutely and particularly because those judges have no understanding of Islam.

Islam is not a religion as is commonly intended in the West - where the idea of human rights developed - , it is disguised as such, in fact it is a political ideology with some religious elements which are cleverly exploited by Muslims to claim "freedom of religion" and "all religions should be treated equally" and similar.

This is the first way in which we can combat the religious equality aspect of human rights.

Second, more importantly, the political ideology of Islam has all the characteristics of the worst dictatorship, oppressing non-Muslims (although for people who interpret democracy as simply "majority rule" this should not represent a problem in Muslim countries, or at least is not a problem they can deal with), dissenters, women, using unrestricted violence, in short all the nice things that we know.

If people in the West - and that includes political leaders and judges - knew that these doctrines derive directly from the Koran and mainstream Islam, and not some "highjackers" or "misunderstanders", then a court could see that, in order to protect human rights, it has to limit the rights of Muslims.

This is not against human rights, it is just against their indiscriminate, unlimited, and therefore wrong, application.

In a way, it's similar to tolerating intolerance. It may seem a paradox; but in the end, if you tolerate intolerance you may think you are tolerant but in fact you are supporting intolerant behaviour.

So, in this "human rights" is in the same predicament as tolerance and freedom: they are valid but, like everything, we must accept limitations to their validity. This does not justify discarding them, which would have bad consequences and for which there is no need.


Enza Ferreri said...

CZ also mentions conflicting interpretations of human rights. Most laws, if not all, can be interpreted in conflicting ways, which is why a lawyer cannot predict the verdict in a case.

Even in its own, self-declared limited scope, the post is too unilateral. It only discusses cases and situations in which the idea of human rights was wrongly used, and not the achievements that this idea has inspired, like the vote for women and black civil rights. Again, see our past discussion for this.

I'll answer here some of CZ's latest comments on this specific subject - only the least ad hominem, rude ones, to avoid an escalation of discourtesy - before the intervening weekend.

"What it [In reference to the American Declaration of Independence] was re-interpreted to mean later [as human rights] is irrelevant to the question of what it meant when written. Since women did not have the right to vote then, we can infer they were not included in the ideas of the authors."

He/She had said something similar before, in reference to slave-owners among the Declaration of Independence's writers.

Totally absent from CZ's ideas is that of historical process. All those positive changes which I mentioned are processes, they are not instantaneous.

The recognition of human rights in America started with the Declaration of Independence and continued with the abolition of slavery, which is why Lincoln, who helped push through the U.S. Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which finally ended all slavery in December 1865, is part of the process.

"A defining element of the idea of human rights is its transnational nature. The campaigns you refer to were specific to individual countries. They were civil rights campaigns, not human rights campaigns."

No, mine are individual countries' examples of the application of the idea of human rights through their national laws.

When women demanded the *right" to vote and equal *rights*, or black leaders asked for civil *rights*, they had as their theoretical reference the concept of human rights. Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the *Rights* of Woman in 1792.

The concept of human rights in the modern sense was developed in the late 18th century by thinkers like Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill.


Enza Ferreri said...

Another serious omission from this post is the way the idea of human rights is constantly used to show Islam's faults, as in this example that CZ reported in another post, European Court of Human Rights: "Sharia Incompatible With the Fundamental Principles of Democracy"

The commenter to a post in The Gates of Vienna also gave another alternative possible solution, that does not involve giving up the concept of human rights

"The european court of human rights needs to be done away with".

If we rejected human rights, we would score an own goal.

Ethically, because we would lose an ethical foundation for our movement. An ethical basis is vital because rational, and not just emotional, reasons must be given in support of political positions. On why the Enlightenment, Kantian natural rights view is preferable to its main ethical theoretical alternative, utilitarianism, see my post Peter Singer and Immigration .

Strategically, because we would be much more vulnerable to attacks of the kind "They don't even support human rights, they oppose Islam just because they don't like brown faces".

It would therefore be much more difficult to be credible with the public opinion, that we want on our side.

Also, not recognizing each other's ethical goals and reasons for doing what we're doing, we invite mistrust within the movement. As I wrote before, democracy as merely majority rule is not an ethical but a political concept: people can support democracy for all the wrong reasons, just look at Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

I must add that CZ's behaviour in our discussion confirms what I said about the importance of ethics and honesty. CZ has had an intransigent, antagonistic and aggressive tone throughout the debate, as if I were and enemy and not an ally, whereas I started it with a friendly, conciliatory approach. I think that the use of a pseudonym can make this, if it's in someone's intentions, easier.

Anonymous said...

An interesting debate from the previous Human Right post and now this post and making a lot of to think on, by CZ and EF. Also helpful mentions by alas, DP111, HenrikRClausen, Baron.

CZ may appear to be hard line to EF, but I do not think he means it as personally to EF. There is a lot to think on and to expect one or the other to just change their views and thoughts and reasoning in a short period of time is asking for too much.

EF may be 'out' as in I see by the description in a JW post as an author, journalist and correspondent, that is her job and then to attack some one that is using an alias, backing some one into a corner and then mentions in the above comment in the last paragraph as "aggressive etc..." does seem high handed.

What I want is the cut and thrust of the debate, to gain information and thoughts for me to ponder on.

So come on now, please keep it clean, not personal and it will help to the credibility of your points and answers. It is the "guts" of the debate I am interested in ! ! and the teasing out of all the issues, as I am sure many other lurkers will also be.

Thank you CZ and EF, keep at it, as there is lot to take on in, and it is important.


alas said...

I agree this has been a most interesting discussion between CZ and EF and do hope it continues.

I hate to intrude into the debate between you two, but would like to ask one question to EF (who admittedly I disagree with). I take EF's point on board that human rights is not the enemy but human rights applied to the extreme. But it would seem to me that it is not a perception amongst many that it is an extreme form of human rights which argues against forced deportations and discriminating against a whole group of peoples' religion (and it is a religion even if it might contain more political elements than Christianity does), but that this is a core element of it. Yet these measures outlined and perhaps even other illiberal ones is what is necessary for us to avoid becoming colonized. So my question would be does human rights accept this sort of behaviour which is necessary to save us all (massed deportation, religious discrimination), or is this prohibited by it? It is my belief that human rights will not accept this form of behaviour and so is an enemy to our cause.

Enza Ferreri said...

I am continuing this discussion on my new blog on which I write several posts on this topic, as well as many other subjects.

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews