Rights aren’t as universal as politicians make them out to be

In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens earned 11.76 and 13.11 per cent of votes in the House of Representatives, and Senate, respectively. With the 2013 election, results are provisional, but this ‘progressive’ party regressed by losing about 1/4 of the vote percentage it achieved in 2010. Whatever the final result:

The Australian Greens believe that…economic, social, cultural, environmental, civil and political rights are universal, interdependent, and indivisible.

Mark Rushdoony wasn’t part of the election, but his insights cast more light:

In our day, much of the talk is political, and too much of it focuses on “rights”…To speak only of our rights is to see ourselves in terms of the state. To speak of duty, service, and responsibility is to see ourselves in terms of God and His commanding Word. The end result of such a perspective is the establishment of liberty.

My two cents

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I tend to agree that when people rest their political agenda on ‘rights’ (especially in the 21st century), then yes, one result is to remodel the individual to something under the care and control of the state. I’m therefore suspicious of putting all my deontological eggs into such a politicised basket. I hope there are higher powers than the state—and it seems that Christianity affirms this.

With the first quote, I’m not convinced that rights are as universal as political parties make them out to be. This is especially the case across time and cultures; the notion of (and dependency on politicised) rights these days is noticeably different from that of antiquity. Several rights listed by the Greens—especially the latter half—were vague or unknown concepts just a few generations ago. It’s therefore misleading to suggest otherwise, especially if a party believes human beings evolved from other species of the genus Homo (and its corollary that political thought has evolved from the barbaric to the progressive).

In such a framework, the concept of rights is not a universal; at best, it’s a construct that was made up by someone and eventually others decided to agree with it (while those who disagreed were overruled). The related inventions of the state, democratic elections, and politicised rhetoric (that’s emotionally reassuring but historically misleading) followed suit.

At least the Greens are honest enough to admit their platform hinges on a belief—but not honest enough to admit it hinges on an incorrect belief.

Quote sources

  1. The Australian Greens. (n.d). Human Rights. Available: http://greens.org.au/policies/human-rights. Last accessed 15th Sep 2013.
  2. Rushdoony, M. (n.d). June Letter from Mark Rushdoony, Chalcedon President. Available: http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/june-letter-from-mark-rushdoony-chalcedon-president/. Last accessed 15th Sep 2013.
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