The Divine Right of Human Rights
If a king claims to know the will of an omnipotent and omniscient God, only God can judge the king, for the king can do no wrong, and no misgovernment on the part of the king can release his subjects from their allegiance.
This was the accepted Tory orthodoxy until the Whig triumph of 1688-9.
After that revolution, notions of absolutism were gradually replaced by parliamentary democracy, and the liberties and rights of the people were enshrined in the Bill of Rights, which is the inviolable property of a sovereign people.
From time to time since, notions of divine right have crept back to deprive the people of their sovereignty: Harold Macmillan was clearly concerned by the unquestionable authoritarianism of members of a priestly political class which seemed to have quasi-religious status: “We have not overthrown the divine right of kings to fall down for the divine right of experts,” he asserted.
Daniel Hannan MEP has observed the same divine attributes in the quangocracy by which we are increasingly governed: the apparatchiks and ‘the rest of the unelected functionariat’.
But Parliament, having once removed absolute power from the monarch, has schemed to remove the centuries-old checks upon its own power. They have abolished the hereditary peers, one of the last bastions against tyranny, and have exchanged the arbitrary power of the Stuart king for the arbitrary power of politicians: the House of Commons has conspired to destroy its own omnipotence and rendered us all subject to another divine right.
The European Union has occasionally been known to claim for itself certain aspects of divinity.
But nothing is so immutable and inviolable as the omnipotent and omnipresent creed of Human Rights.
Her Majesty’s Government wished to strip the hook-handed ‘radical cleric’ Abu Hamza of the British passport he was awarded in 1986, principally because his presence on these shores is no longer considered to be conducive to the common good: he has an annoying habit of calling for the ‘blood and destruction’ of non-Muslims and believes
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed, and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,--
For Christian service and true chivalry,--
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son:
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
to be ‘like the inside of a toilet'.
Being an Egyptian national, the Government simply sought to revoke the British citizenship it gifted him through marriage and deport him whence he came.
But Sheikh Hamza, who originally entered Britain on a student visa, appealed to the courts. He argued that such a move would breach his ‘human rights’; specifically, the right to retain his British citizenship because Egypt has already stripped him of his Egyptian citizenship.
To lose one citizenship may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
And so the specially-convened Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that the removal of his British passport would render him ‘stateless’, which would breach his human right to belong somewhere.
Even to a country which is ‘like the inside of a toilet’.
Even more irritatingly, he was granted legal aid to engage the services of highly-qualified (ie damned expensive) lawyers to argue his case.
So not only has HM Government lost the case: the taxpayer has footed the bill.
And when Sheikh Hamza finally emerges from Belmarsh, HM Government will have no option but to let him live again amongst us.
For that is his inalienable and inviolable ‘human right’.
It is bizarre that those very rights which have sought to guard the individual from tyranny have themselves become a tyranny.
The trinity of revolutionary modernity was liberty, equality and fraternity.
But governments found that too much liberty for the people was problematic and that they could not legislate to inculcate fraternity.
The trinity of postmodernity is equality, plurality and secularity.
And governments have found that they can legislate for them all, and they are colluding to induce this enlightened, relativist ‘neutrality’ with missionary zeal.
If you now dare to question these absolutes or violate their sovereignty, you belong to the dark ages of racism, religious bigotry and intolerance. Left unchecked, the absolute state has decreed that militant Islam is equal to Christian piety; that cultural relativism brings pluralist peace; and that atheism is the source of moral neutrality.
Human rights have their genesis in the precisely the same absolutist politics that gave us divine right.
A sovereign parliament made up of the representatives of a sovereign people has elevated ‘equality’ to the status of omnipotence; induced ‘plurality’ as the source of omnibenevolence; and inculcated ‘secularity’ as the enlightened philosophy of tolerating omniscience. The individual conscience is subsumed to the omnipresence of relativist rights, and where these are violated, the state dictates its own belief system and imposes its own discourse upon all individuals and groups until they are inducted into the new religio-political orthodoxy.
The paradigm of absolute rights is antithetical to the Christian contract of obligations, duties and responsibilities for reward. The selfish subjectivity of individuality is antithetical to the collective objectivity of community. As long as people like Abu Hamza are free to preach their poison and disseminate their particular brand of hate, there can be no ‘Big Society’ because there is no ‘common good’. And there is no ‘common good’ because the fons et origo of that vision of justice and peace has been fractured into a plethora of common goods, each advocating its own absolute creed; demanding its own space in the public realm; claiming inviolable equality and competing for absolute supremacy in the hierarchy.
Thomas Paine observed ‘Government has no right to make itself a party in any debate respecting the principles or modes of forming, or of changing, constitutions. It is not for the benefit of those who exercise the powers of government, that constitutions, and the governments issuing from them, are established. In all those matters, then rights of judging and acting are in those who pay, and not those who receive.’
It is time to reassess the inviolability, infallibility and ubiquity of ‘human rights’.
Or, as history teaches, regicide and revolution will ensue.