May 14, 2010

In pofida sperantelor stangii europene...

Populatia Europei s-a indreptat politic spre partidele conservatoare in materie de solutionarea crizei economice.

LA Times:
Political shift in Britain reflects Europe's rightward tilt

May 12, 2010

Un conservator compasionat

"One of the tasks that we clearly have is to rebuild trust in our political system. Yes, that's about cleaning up expenses, yes, that's about reforming parliament, and yes, it's about making sure people are in control and that the politicians are always their servants and never their masters. But I believe it's also something else — it's about being honest about what government can achieve. Real change is not what government can do on its own, real change is when everyone pulls together, comes together, works together, when we all exercise our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, to our communities and to others. And I want to help try and build a more responsible society here in Britain, one where we don't just ask what are my entitlements but what are my responsibilities, one where we don't ask what am I just owed but more what can I give, and a guide for that society that those that can should and those who can't we will always help. I want to make sure that my Government always looks after the elderly, the frail, the poorest in our country. We must take everyone through us on some of the difficult decisions that we have ahead. Above all it will be a Government that is built on some clear values, values of freedom, values of fairness and values of responsibility. I want us to build an economy that rewards work, I want us to build a society with stronger families and stronger communities and I want a political system that people can trust and look up to once again."

David Cameron, First Speech as Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street (11 May 2010)

March 06, 2010

Harta creierului de activist secular-umanist

Satiră preluata de pe conservapedia. Termenii se pot adapta relativ uşor şi la spaţiul românesc (aici i-am adaptat doar titlul ;-)).

February 18, 2010

Un naturalism consistent...

... "says nothing about the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural which by this definition is beyond natural testing [...] it is possible to be a methodological naturalist and an ontological supernaturalist at the same time. For example, while natural scientists follow methodological naturalism in their scientific work, they may also believe in God (ontological supernaturalism), or they may be metaphysical naturalists and therefore atheists. This position does not preclude knowledge that derives from the study of what is hitherto considered supernatural, but considers that if such a phenomenon can be scientifically examined and explained naturally, it, then, by definition, ceases to be supernatural." (sursa - aici)

February 05, 2010

Ortodoxie, Drepturile omului si Marxismul


Written by Vladimir Moss

A man kicks another man who is lying on the ground and is not threatening anyone. Is that right or wrong? No civilized person would deny that it is wrong. The question is: why is it wrong? Is it wrong because God has commanded us to love our neighbour, not abuse him? This is the answer that an Orthodox Christian (and most religious people) would give. Is it wrong because unprovoked violence is a crime according to the laws of the State? Again, an Orthodox Christian (and most law-abiding people) would answer: yes. Is it wrong because every human being has the right to be treated with dignity and respect? Here an Orthodox Christian would probably hesitate to answer… Not because he denies that human beings should be treated with dignity and respect, but because the way the question is posed presupposes a philosophy of human rights which is not Orthodox…

The Origins of the Philosophy

The modern philosophy of human rights is a theory of universal morality binding on all men and all human institutions and states that is not dependent on the existence of God or any personal lawgiver.

The roots of this philosophy lie in the medieval western idea of natural law. This idea was born out of the need to place limits on two institutions that in different ways were thought to be above the law: the Holy Roman Empire, and the Roman papacy. According to Roman law, the emperor was above the law, or freed from human laws (legibus solutus), insofar as “what pleases the prince has the power of law”. For if he broke his own laws, who was to judge him, and who was to prevent him passing other laws to make his previous transgression of the law lawful? The pope was similarly considered to be above the law – that is, freed from the provisions of canon law. This was a consequence of his “absolute power” (potestas absoluta), for if he sinned against canon law, or became a heretic, who was to judge him if not the supreme expert on the subject, the pope himself? And who could judge him if he refused to judge himself?

However, although a monarch might be freed from the laws of the State, and the pope might be freed from the canon law of the Church, they were both theoretically subject to another kind of law. This higher law was called by medieval theorists natural law. Natural law is defined by the historian of medieval scholastic philosophy Fr. Frederick Copleston as “the totality of the universal dictates of right reason concerning that good of nature which is to be pursued and that evil of man’s nature which is to be shunned.”[1]

But this definition begs the question: how do we know what is “right reason”? And what is “the good of nature”? The answer given by the medieval theologians, according to J.S. McClelland, was roughly as follows: “For a maxim of morality or a maxim of good government to be part of natural law, it has to be consistent with scripture, with the writings of the Fathers of the Church, with papal pronouncement, with what the philosophers say, and it must also be consistent with the common practices of mankind, both Christian and non-Christian.”[2]

But this, too, begs several questions. What are we to do if “papal pronouncement” contradicts “the writings of the Fathers of the Church” (as it often does)? And is not “what the philosophers say” likely to be still more at variance with the Holy Fathers? And is not “the common practices of mankind, both Christian and non-Christian” an extremely vague and debatable concept?

It is indeed; which is why, even in its more modern and secularized version, the philosophy of natural law, or human rights, has remained extremely vague and debatable ever since. But this does not prevent it from being, both then and now, a very powerful weapon in the hands of those who, for one reason or another, wish to overturn the prevailing hierarchy or system of morality. We see this even in Thomas Aquinas, the greatest of the scholastics, and a loyal son of the Roman Catholic Church. He defined the relationship of natural law to man-made laws as follows: “Every law framed by man bears the character of a law exactly to that extent to which it is derived from the law of nature. But if on any point it is in conflict with the law of nature, it at once ceases to be a law; it is a mere perversion of the law.”[3]

The first important application of the principle of natural law came during the Magna Carta crisis in England. Pope Innocent III had placed the whole of England under ban because King John disagreed with him over who should be archbishop of Canterbury. He excommunicated John, deposed him from the throne and suggested to King Philip Augustus of France that he invade and conquer England! John appealed to papal mediation to save him from Philip. He received it, but at a price – full restitution of church funds and lands, perpetual infeudation of England and Ireland to the papacy, and the payment of an annual rent of a thousand marks. Only when all the money had been paid was the ban lifted.

And then, as Peter De Rosa puts it acidly: “by kind permission of Pope Innocent III, Christ was able to enter England again”.[4]

This enraged King Philip, however; for he was now ordered to abandon his preparations for war, in that he was not allowed to invade what was now, not English, but papal soil. Moreover, the abject surrender of John to the Pope, and the oath of fealty he made to him, aroused the fears of the English barons, whose demands led to the famous Magna Carta of 1215 that limited the powers of the king and is commonly regarded as the beginning of modern western democracy. Thus the despotism of the Pope elicited the beginnings of parliamentary democracy….

Now Magna Carta was a limitation of royal, not papal power. Nevertheless, it affected the papacy, too: first because England was supposed to be a papal fief, but more importantly because it set a dangerous, revolutionary precedent which might be used against the Pope himself. And so Pope Innocent III “from the plenitude of his unlimited power” condemned the charter as “contrary to moral law”, “null and void of all validity for ever”, absolved the king from having to observe it and excommunicated “anyone who should continue to maintain such treasonable and iniquitous pretensions”. But Archbishop Stephen Langton of Canterbury refused to publish this sentence. And the reason he gave was very significant: “Natural law is binding on popes and princes and bishops alike: there is no escape from it. It is beyond the reach of the pope himself.”[5]

And so the doctrine of natural law opened the way for the people to judge and depose both popes and kings… However, throughout the medieval period and into the beginning of the modern period, natural law remained tied to Christianity and Christian norms of behaviour. And since Christianity in general does not favour rebellion against the powers that be, the full revolutionary potential of the concept was not yet realized.

If any one man can be said to be its originator of the modern, non-Christian and religionless philosophy of human rights, that man is probably the seventeenth-century Dutch jurist, Hugo Grotius (1583-1645). Grotius was writing under the influence of the wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants, and also the trade wars between European nations such as England, Holland and France. He wanted to find a way of regulating wars in accordance with principles that would be universally accepted. Like most men of his time, he was a Christian, and even wrote a popular work, On the Truth of the Christian Religion. However, in his most influential work, On the Law of War and Peace, he let slip a phrase that would point the way to a theory of international law and human rights that was independent of Christian morality or theology: “Even the will of an omnipotent Being,” he wrote, “cannot change or abrogate” natural law, which “would maintain its objective validity even if we should assume the impossible, that there is no God or that He does not care for human affairs” (Prolegomena XI).

According to Grotius, therefore, natural law is the most objective truth, more objective, if that were possible, even than the existence of God or God’s care for the world. That being the case, theoretically if natural law says that something is right, whereas God says it is wrong, we should stick to natural law. Of course, if natural law derives ultimately from God, there will never by any such conflict. But Grotius appears here to envisage the possibility of a world with natural law but without God. This idea is among the most destructive in the whole history of ideas…

Natural Rights and Social Contract Theory

However, the concept of natural law needed to be fleshed out. The first question was: If natural law exists, who is the lawgiver? Or, if there is no lawgiver, what is its basis in reality? And the second question was: assuming that a real basis for natural - as opposed to Divine, or ecclesiastical, or state - law exists, what does it prescribe? In particular, since all law implies rights and obligations. what are the rights and obligations legislated by natural law, and to whom are they given?

Considerable “progress” in answering these questions was made in the Early Modern period. During the Renaissance interest began to be focused on the nature of man, and in particular on man’s freedom and dignity – a promising basis, in the view of the Renaissance man, for a theory of natural law. Thus Leonardo da Vinci wrote: “The chief gift of nature is… freedom.” Again, Pico della Mirandola wrote in his Oration on the Dignity of Man: “O sublime generosity of God the Father! O highest and most wonderful felicity of Man! To him it was granted to be what he wills. The Father endowed him with all kinds of seeds and with the germs of every way of life. Whatever seeds each man cultivates will grow and bear fruit in him.”

So man is supposedly granted “to be what he wills”… But is he? Is he not in fact constrained in all kinds of ways in what he can do? If by man’s freedom we mean freewill, then yes, man has freewill. God’s creation of man in His image means, according to the Fathers, that he is born with freedom and rationality in the image of God’s Freedom and Reason. But that is by no means equivalent to the ability to “grow the germs of every way of life” in himself. Can a stupid man “grow the germs” of genius within himself?

However, the idea that man is “born free” now became a commonplace of political thought, and the basis for very far-reaching conclusions about life and morality. If man is born free, then he is not by nature subject to any external power, whether it be God, the Church, the State or the Family. And since he is this by nature, he has the right to remain such.

But this, as the philosopher Thomas Hobbes pointed out, is a recipe for anarchy, for “war of all against all”; for if each man is free to exercise his will to have food, property, sexual pleasure, etc., without restraint, he will end up fighting every other man for these goods. For “if everyone has that same equal and unlimited liberty to do as he pleases in pursuit of the literally selfish end of self-preservation, then without law every man is a menace to every other man. Far from being an original endowment for which men should be grateful, the unlimited liberty of the Right of Nature is a millstone round men’s necks, of which they would be wise to unburden themselves at the first opportunity.”[6]

Therefore in order for men to live a tolerable life, they must form a social contract for the formation of a State: that is, each must agree to give up his natural right to freedom (in the sense of freedom to do whatever they like) by creating a State that has certain rights over them. Each citizen gives up his right in this way on the understanding that every other citizen in the contract likewise gives up his right. The State thus formed through a social contract between its citizens will be a Leviathan, “a monster composed of men”, headed by a sovereign, personal or collective, whose power is created by a social contract between its citizens, but who, after the “signing” of the contract, is answerable to no man or law.

But why should the sovereign’s power be unlimited in this way? “Since the sovereign,” explains Roger Scruton, “would be the creation of the contract, he could not also be party to it: he stands above the social contract, and can therefore disregard its terms, provided he enforces them against all others. That is why, Hobbes thought, it was so difficult to specify the obligations of the sovereign, and comparatively easy to specify the obligations of the citizen.” [7] In fact, properly speaking, according to Hobbes, the State can do no wrong. For the very concepts of right and wrong, justice and injustice, acquire meaning only if there is a higher authority to adjudicate who is right and why. But there is no higher authority than the State in Hobbes’ conception. “Therefore before the names of Just and Unjust can have place, there must be some coercive Power, to compel men equally to the performance of their Covenants…, to make good that Propriety, which by mutual contract men acquire, in recompense of the universal Right they abandon, and such power there is none before the erection of the Commonwealth.”[8]

But this was not at all what the originators of the notion of natural law had in mind! They saw natural law as limiting the power of the State (and the Pope). And yet here Hobbes is using it to buttress the power of the State!

Hobbes wrote an apologia for absolutism because he lived in a time of absolutism – Cromwell’s and King James II’s. But the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 overthrew James II and brought to power the Protestant constitutional monarchy of William III. Its de jure justification was worked out by John Locke, who set out to prove that James had broken some kind of agreement with the people, and so had been rightly overthrown, whereas William was abiding by its terms and so should be obeyed. What was needed was to retain the social contract theory, but rework it so as to bring the monarch within the contract (impossible according to Hobbes), make parliament the real sovereign, and bring God back into the picture, if only for decency’s sake.

Like Hobbes, Locke began by positing an original State of Nature in which all men were equal and free. But, unlike Hobbes, he considered that this original state was not one of total anarchy and vicious egoism, - but of some social cohesion, with men “living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth”. “Though this (State of Nature) be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence.”[9] For, in addition to the State of Nature, Locke also posited a “Law of Nature” inspired by “the infinitely wise Maker” and identifiable with “reason”, which instructed men not to infringe on the freedom of other men. Thus “the state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”[10] In the State of Nature every man owns the land that he tills and the product of that labour: “Though the earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property”.[11]

The critical words here are “property” and “possessions”. For Locke’s second aim, after the justification of the “Glorious Revolution”, was to make sure that the constitutional monarchy was in the hands of the men of property, the aristocratic landowning class. And so those who signed the original social contract, in his view, were not all the men of the kingdom, but those who had substantial property and therefore the right to vote for members of parliament in elections. For “the great and chief end of men uniting into commonwealths is the preservation of their property.”

Thus man is born, according to Locke, with three basic Natural Rights, as he called them: life – everyone is entitled to live; liberty – everyone is entitled to do anything they want provided it doesn’t conflict with the first right; and estate – everyone is entitled to own all that they create or gain through gift or trade so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two rights. Men form a social contract for the formation of a State which limits their own rights in the sense that they can lose life, liberty and/or estate if they transgress the State’s laws. But in exchange the State is obliged to protect these three rights of the citizens so long as they do not break the State’s laws. However, if the State does not fulfil its side of the contract, the citizens can overthrow the State, in the person of the constitutional monarch and form a new contract with a new monarch.[12]

This was more like it - now the property-owning aristocrats had a theory of the State that suited them perfectly! The State was created to protect their interests, and could be overthrown by them if it violated their interests – all in the name of natural law! The problem was: who was to say when the State had violated the natural rights of the citizens sufficiently to justify violent revolution?

This vital question has never received a satisfactory answer in western political theory. Locke’s answer was: when “estates, liberties, lives are in danger, and perhaps religion too”. Only “perhaps religion”? In the Orthodox East, danger to religion is the only possible justification for rebellion against the powers that be. But for Locke the justification was, in the end, secular: for “the end of government is the good of mankind, and which is best for mankind, that the people should always exposed to the boundless will of tyranny or that the rulers should be sometimes liable to be opposed? Upon the forfeiture of their rulers, [power] reverts to the society and the people have a right to act as supreme and place it in a new form or new hands, as they think good.”[13] In other words, if the people feel that their Natural Rights have been violated by king or parliament, then they have the right to declare the contract broken and take power back from their representatives. For “the Community may be said in this respect to be always the Supreme Power”.[14] Thus if the prince seeks to “enslave, or destroy them”, the people are entitled to “appeal to heaven”. But “since Heaven does not make explicit pronouncements,” writes Russell, “this means, in effect, that a decision can only be reached by fighting, since it is assumed that Heaven will give the victory to the better cause. Some such view is essential to any doctrine that divides governmental power.”[15]

Essentially, this was the Chinese pagan theory of “the mandate of Heaven” dressed up in vaguely Christian clothes…

However, the experience of the English revolution and Locke’s own conservative instincts led him to countenance revolution only in extreme cases. Otherwise the right to rebel would “lay a perpetual foundation for disorder”. “Great mistakes in the ruling part… will be born by the People without muting or murmur”, and recourse would be had to force only after “a long trains of Abuses, Prevarications, and Artifices”. For “people are not so easily got out of their old forms as some are apt to suggest”.[16] “’Overturning the constitution and frame of any just government’ is ‘the greatest crime a man is capable of’, but ‘either ruler or subject’ who forcibly invades ‘the rights of either prince or people’ is guilty of it. ‘Whosoever uses force without right, as everyone does in society who does it without law, puts himself into a state of war with those against whom he so uses it… every one has a right to defend himself and to resist the aggressor.’”[17]

The influence of Locke’s theory is very clear in the United States’ Declaration of Independence of 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In fact, the American revolution of 1776 was not “self-evidently” in accordance with Locke’s theory – especially for the Blacks, who knew that their “self-evident” equality with the Whites was not recognized by either side... But Locke would have understood: the only self-evident thing about his theory was its usefulness in justifying the deposition of kings…
A Critique of Social Contract Theory

“In all its forms,” writes Roger Scruton, “the social contract enshrines a fundamental liberal principle, namely, that, deep down, our obligations are self-created and self-imposed. I cannot be bound by the law, or legitimately constrained by the sovereign, if I never chose to be under the obligation to obey. Legitimacy is conferred by the citizen, and not by the sovereign, still less by the sovereign’s usurping ancestors. If we cannot discover a contract to be bound by the law, then the law is not binding.”[18]

Andrezey Walicki writes: “The argument that society was founded on reason and self-interest could of course be used to sanction rebellion against any forms of social relations that could not prove their rationality or utility.”[19]

A basic objection to social contract theory put forward by Hegel is that this original premise, that “our obligations are self-created and self-imposed”, is false. We do not choose the family we are born in, or the state to which we belong, and yet both family and state impose undeniable obligations on us. Of course, we can rebel against such obligations; the son can choose to say that he owes nothing to his father. And yet he would not even exist without his father; and without his father’s nurture and education he would not even be capable of making choices.

Thus we are “hereditary bondsmen”, to use Byron’s phrase. In this sense we live in a cycle of freedom and necessity: the free choices of our ancestors limit our own freedom, while our choices limit those of our children. The idea of a social contract entered into in a single generation is therefore not only a historical myth (as many social contract theorists concede); it is also a dangerous myth. It is a myth that distorts the very nature of society, which cannot be conceived as existing except over several generations.

But if society exists over several generations, all generations should be taken into account in drawing up the contract. Why should only one generation’s interests be respected? For, as Scruton continues, interpreting the thought of Edmund Burke, “the social contract prejudices the interests of those who are not alive to take part in it: the dead and the unborn. Yet they too have a claim, maybe an indefinite claim, on the resources and institutions over which the living so selfishly contend. To imagine society as a contract among its living members, is to offer no rights to those who go before and after. But when we neglect those absent souls, we neglect everything that endows law with its authority, and which guarantees our own survival. We should therefore see the social order as a partnership, in which the dead and the unborn are included with the living.”[20]

“Every people,” writes L.A. Tikhomirov, “is, first of all, a certain historical whole, a long row of consecutive generations, living over hundreds or thousands of years in a common life handed down by inheritance. In this form a people, a nation, is a certain socially organic phenomenon with more or less clearly expressed laws of inner development… But political intriguers and the democratic tendency does not look at a people in this form, as a historical, socially organic phenomenon, but simply in the form of a sum of the individual inhabitants of the country. This is the second point of view, which looks on a nation as a simple association of people united into a state because they wanted that, living according to laws which they like, and arbitrarily changing the laws of their life together when it occurs to them.”[21]

Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow wrote: “It is obligatory, say the wise men of this world, to submit to social authorities on the basis of a social contract, by which people were united into society, by a general agreement founding government and submission to it for the general good. If they think that it is impossible to found society otherwise than on a social contract, - then why is it that the societies of the bees and ants are not founded on it? And is it not right that those who break open honeycombs and destroy ant-hills should be entrusted with finding in them… a charter of bees and ants? And until such a thing is done, nothing prevents us from thinking that bees and ants create their societies, not by contract, but by nature, by an idea of community implanted in their nature, which the Creator of the world willed to be realised even at the lowest level of His creatures. What if an example of the creation of a human society by nature were found? What, then, is the use of the fantasy of a social contract? No one can argue against the fact that the original form of society is the society of the family. Thus does not the child obey the mother, and the mother have power over the child, not because they have contracted between themselves that she should feed him at the breast, and that he should shout as little as possible when he is swaddled? What if the mother should suggest too harsh conditions to the child? Will not the inventors of the social contract tell him to go to another mother and make a contract with her about his upbringing? The application of the social contract in this case is as fitting as it is fitting in other cases for every person, from the child to the old man, from the first to the last. Every human contract can have force only when it is entered into with consciousness and good will. Are there many people in society who have heard of the social contract? And of those few who have heard of it, are there many who have a clear conception of it? Ask, I will not say the simple citizen, but the wise man of contracts: when and how did he enter into the social contract? When he was an adult? But who defined this time? And was he outside society before he became an adult? By means of birth? This is excellent. I like this thought, and I congratulate every Russian that he was able – I don’t know whether it was from his parents or from Russia herself, - to agree that he be born in powerful Russia… The only thing that we must worry about is that neither he who was born nor his parents thought about this contract in their time, and so does not referring to it mean fabricating it? And consequently is not better, as well as simpler, both in submission and in other relationships towards society, to study the rights and obligations of a real birth instead of an invented contract – that pipe-dream of social life, which, being recounted at the wrong time, has produced and continues to produce material woes for human society. ‘Transgressors have told me fables, but they are not like Thy law, O Lord’ (Psalm 118.85).”[22]

Since social contract theory originated in the seventeenth century, the century of the Wars of Religion, one of its aims was to prevent such conflicts by relegating religion to the private sphere, having no part in the contract. This meant increasing toleration of previously forbidden religions, but also the increasing restriction of the influence of religion as a whole. Thus in the seventeenth-century Locke argued that religion was a private matter, and that people should be allowed as far as possible to mind their own business; but he drew the line at Catholics and atheists. In the time of Mills in the nineteenth century, Catholics and atheists, too, had won the right to express their views. Today, in the twenty-first century, any expression of Christian views that offends any other religious or anti-religious group may be deemed to be a violation of their “human rights” and so earn a prison sentence…

Modern versions of social contract theory, such as John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, aim, as Roger Scruton notes, to remove “from the legal order all reference to the sources of division and conflict between human groups, so as to create a society in which no question can arise that does not have a solution acceptable to everyone. If religion, culture, sex, race, and even ‘conceptions of the good’ have all been relegated to the private sphere, and set outside the scope of jurisdiction, then the resulting public law will be an effective instrument for the government of a multicultural society, forbidding citizens to make exceptions in favour of their preferred group, sex, culture, faith, or lifestyle…. This simply reinforces the status of the theory as the theology of a post-religious society.”[23]

Thus social contract theory, while not explicitly anti-religious, actually leads, in its modern variants, to the purest secularism: the original social contract must be postulated to be between irreligious people and to lead to a state that is strictly irreligious, relegating religion entirely to the private sphere where it can have no influence on public policy. In exchange for this banishment to the “catacombs” of society, the religious citizen is generously accorded the “right” to worship God. But such a state will be accepted only by a society for which religion has ceased to be the primary focus of life, and has become merely one “interest” or “need” among many others. Such a society was England after the English revolution. And such a society has the whole of the West, following England, become in the decades and centuries that have passed since “the Glorious Revolution”…

Declarations of Human Rights

The influence of Locke’s theory of natural or human rights, and of the social contract, was confined to Anglo-Saxon countries until the fateful year 1789. Then, in the more radical form of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen”, it became the theoretical underpinning of the French Revolution. Let us remind ourselves of the first clauses of the Declaration:

“’I. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions can only be founded on public utility.

II. The purpose of every political association is the preservation of the natural and unprescriptible rights of men. These rights are liberty, property, and safety from, and resistance to, oppression.

III. The principle of all sovereignty lies in the nation. No body of men, and no individual, can exercise authority which does not emanate directly therefrom.

IV. Liberty consists in the ability to do anything which does not harm others.

V. The Law can only forbid actions which are injurious to society…”

There was no mention of women’s rights in the original Declaration. But in The Rights of Women and the Citizen (1791) Olympe de Gouges wrote: “1. Woman is born free, and remains equal to Man in rights… 4. The exercise of Woman’s natural rights has no limit other than the tyranny of Man’s opposing them… 17. Property is shared or divided equally by both sexes.” Again, in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) Mary Wollstonecraft denied that there were any specifically feminine qualities: “I here throw down my gauntlet, and deny the existence of sexual virtues, not excepting modesty.” And there were other additions. Thus Article XXI of the revised Declaration of 1793 stated: “Public assistance is a sacred obligation [dette]. Society owes subsistence to unfortunate citizens, whether in finding work for them, or in assuring the means of survival of those incapable of working.”[24]

Pope Pius VI condemned the Declaration, “this absolute liberty which not only assures people of the right not to be disturbed about their religious opinions but also gives them this licence to think, write and even have printed with impunity all that the most unruly imagination can suggest about religion. It is a monstrous right…” For God, said the Pope, also had rights: “What is more contrary to the rights of the Creator God Who limited human freedom by prohibiting evil, than ‘this liberty of thought and action which the National Assembly accords to man in society as an inalienable right of nature’?”[25]

There are two essential innovations in this revolutionary philosophy. First, the source of authority in human society is proclaimed to be neither God, nor any existing political authority, but “the nation”. Hence nations are to be seen as free agents with rights.[26] But what constitutes the nation? The essence of the nation, and the source of its rights, is what Rousseau called “the General Will” – a very vague term which any body, composed according to almost any criterion, can claim to represent. At the same time, this “nation” or “General Will” ascribes to itself the most complete power, so that “no body of men, and no individual, can exercise authority which does not emanate directly therefrom.” This immediately destroys the authority, not only of the king, but also of the Church – and indeed, of every other person and body.

The second innovation is the concept of “rights” that are “unprescriptible” – that is, prescribed neither by God nor by man. Man, according to the Declaration, has the unprescriptible “right” to do anything he likes – providing he doesn’t harm others (article 4). However, this latter qualification is not elaborated on, and was in practice ignored completely in the French revolutionary tradition. Thus man is in principle free to do anything whatsoever. The only limitation on his freedom is other men’s freedom: their right not to be limited or restricted by him.

However, positive freedom, freedom “to”, and negative freedom, “freedom not to”, are very different things, with very different consequences. The English liberal tradition, from Locke to J.S. Mill to John Rawls, defined freedom in a negative way, as freedom from certain restraints on, and violence to, the individual. Thus “liberty,” writes Locke, “is to be free from restraint and violence from others”.[27] But the French revolutionary tradition, by grafting Rousseau’s concept of the “General Will” onto Locke’s concept of Natural Rights, emphasized positive freedom – the absolute freedom of the man who embodies the General Will to do absolutely anything he likes. [28]

Recent history has shown that the idea of “positive” freedom, whether of a man (e.g. Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, Mao) or a Party (e.g. the Bolshevik Party) or a race (e.g. the Germans under Hitler) is perhaps the most destructive idea of all time… In spite of that, and in spite of the terrible destruction and blood-letting caused by the idea of positive freedom in the period 1917 to 1945, in 1948 the United Nations published the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declared: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The Declaration stated that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. While this sounds anodyne enough, even a superficial reading of history since 1789 should have convinced those who drew up the Declaration to be more specific and careful about the meaning of the words “freedom” and “rights” here. They should have known that very similar statements had served as the foundation of the French revolution, and almost every other bloody revolution right up to the Russian revolution, which at that very moment was still destroying millions of souls in the name of “the spirit of brotherhood”…

An Analysis of the Philosophy

Leaving aside historical exposition, let us now analyze the philosophy of human rights in its modern form point by point. The philosophy can be summarized in the following propositions:

1. What is natural is what is right.

2. What is natural and right is what we desire.

3. All human beings are equal.

4. All human beings have the same human nature and more or less the same desires.

5. Therefore every human has the right to have whatever he desires provided the satisfaction of his desire does not interfere with the desires of other human beings.

There are major problems with each of these propositions.

1. First, let us ask the question: Why should what is natural be what is right? Why should any natural fact or desire create a right or obligation for us? If I want food, why do I have the right to have food? If I am walking in a desert place and there is no food around and I have forgotten to bring food with me, then I go hungry. But no right of mine has been violated – only my will.

Linguistic philosophers in the twentieth century argued that it is impossible to get from a statement of fact to a statement of value, from “is” statements to “ought” statements. So from the fact that I am hungry it is impossible to deduce that I ought to have food in the sense that I have the right to have food. We only get from facts to values, from natural laws to moral laws, by exploiting an apparent ambiguity in the term “law”.

“Law” in its original meaning implies a personal lawgiver who lays down the law, that is, prescribes what should and should not be done: “Thou shalt not kill”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, etc. Outside the context of a rational lawgiver giving laws to rational receivers of the law, the concept of law is strictly speaking inapplicable. However, in a metaphorical sense we can speak of observed regularities in nature as laws of nature, the underlying idea being that these regularities did not come into being by chance, but were commanded by God: “He spake, and they came to be; He commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148.5). But of course the elements of nature are not rational beings; they follow the laws of nature, not from choice, but out of necessity; so their obedience to the laws of nature creates no moral right or obligation. At the same time, the fact that God both creates natural laws for all creation and prescribes moral laws for rational men shows that there is a link between fact and value. That link is God Himself; for He alone is Truth and Goodness, the Giver of both the natural and the moral law. However, human rights theorists, following Grotius, construct their philosophy without assuming the existence of God; and their “self-evident” laws are not prescribed by God or anybody else, but are “unprescriptible”, as the 1789 Declaration puts it. Therefore they fail to find – because they do not want to see – the only possible link between the world of facts and the world of values: the commandment of the Creator. In view of this, their attempt to base human rights on natural law collapses…

2. Secondly, why should we assume that all our desires are natural? It is the teaching of the Orthodox Church that all our desires are in fact fallen, warped, distorted from their original, natural form. Of course, the idea of the fall forms no part of the philosophy of human rights – it undermines it completely. But even leaving aside the idea of the fall, human rights theorists have to deal with the fact that, in the opinion of most human beings, certain desires are natural and others unnatural. They deal with this problem in a remarkable way: by simply denying the fact that there are unnatural desires.

Let us take the key test-case of homosexuality. It is completely obvious that homosexuality is unnatural; it frustrates the biological purpose of sexual intercourse, which is the procreation of children. St. Paul says that male homosexuals “have given up natural intercourse to be consumed with passion for each other”, and that female homosexuals “have turned from natural intercourse to unnatural practices” (Romans 1.26-27). Until about 1960 the vast majority of people in the western world considered that homosexuality was both unnatural and wrong. The proportion of people who believe this in the West has fallen in more recent decades; but it remains the position of the three monotheistic religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism; and with the rapid increase of Islam in recent decades it is very likely that anti-homosexuality is still the majority opinion. In spite of this, human rights theorists insist that homosexuals have the “right” to practise their perversions. This clearly shows that the human rights agenda is based neither on nature nor natural law nor even on the “democratic” consensus of mankind…

Even when human rights theorists agree that something is wrong – for example, paedophilia – they rarely use the argument that it is unnatural. After all, if some people want to do it, then it must be natural in some sense… Thus paedophilia is wrong, not because it is unnatural, but because the child is assumed not to want it, and therefore it is a violation of his human rights. And yet if it could be proved that the child did want it, or that it caused him no objective harm, presumably paedophilia would be acceptable, as it was in Classical Greece… By the same criterion, it is possible that a whole range of other perversions – incest, bestiality, necrophilia – may one day become acceptable because some people, at any rate, want them, and so these practices must have some basis in human nature. The usual way this is “proved” is by pretending to find some area in the brain that accounts for the perverse behaviour and therefore makes it “natural” - in the case of homosexuality, the current candidate is the hypothalamus, which is supposed to be smaller in homosexuals than in heterosexuals…

In the absence of a teaching on the fall, there is no theoretical way of distinguishing natural wants from unnatural ones. Thus the only restriction on my egoism becomes the possibility that it may clash with your egoism – a restriction that we shall discuss later. And so if the first axiom of modern ontology is Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am”, the first axiom of modern morality is “I want, therefore I can”…

3 and 4. As we have seen, the essential equality of all men was an essential part of the philosophy from at least the time of the American revolution. For egalitarianism was the essential tool for the realization of the real aim of the human rights philosophy: to destroy all social, political or ecclesiastical hierarchies. The equality of man was one of those truths that the American Founding Fathers declared to be “self-evident”.

However, it is by no means self-evident that all men are equal; they differ in intelligence, strength, beauty, courage, taste, sporting and musical ability, sense of humour, moral worth and in countless other ways. The only thing that makes them in any real sense equal is the fact they are all made in the image of God and have the capacity, through the exercise of their free-will and the grace of God, to become in His likeness. And yet even in the Kingdom of heaven one star differs from another in brightness…

The new science of genetics shows that it is not strictly true that all men have the same human nature; for if a man’s human nature – or, at any rate, his psycho-physical, if not his spiritual nature – is defined by his DNA, then every man’s DNA is unique. Eve had the same nature as Adam (except her gender). But as their descendants multiplied, so did their differences…

Of course, men differ only within the bounds of the species or “kind” determined by God – and this, too, can be seen in the DNA. However, the species “man” is not an absolute: it is an abstraction derived from studying many particular men. In fact, as Archbishop Theophan of Poltava writes, “Only in relation to the absolute Divine [nature] is the concept of nature used by the Fathers of the Church in an absolute sense, insofar as the Divine nature is absolutely one both in concept and in reality. But in relation to the units of created nature, and in particular to people, the concept of one nature is understood in the sense of complete unity only abstractly, insofar as every concept of genus or species is one, but in application to reality it indicates only the oneness of the nature of all the units of the given genus.”[29]

Having different natures, or only relatively similar natures, men also differ in their desires. Some of these differences are trivial: one prefers tea, another – coffee; one man prefers Mozart, another – Bach. But others are less trivial: one man longs for chastity, another – for the satisfaction of his lust at every opportunity. Often the same man will desire quite opposite things, as when St. Augustine prayed: “Lord, give me chastity – but not yet.” This shows that we may even speak of each man, or at any rate each Christian, having two different human natures – the old Adam and the new Adam.

And then there are the differences between men which, as has been generally recognized in generation after generation, make a material difference to their rights and obligations: the differences between a man and a child, between a man and a woman, between a knowledgeable man and an ignoramus, between an employer and an employee, etc. In their levelling, egalitarian passion, human rights activists have tended to regard these differences as accidental or inessential, and have created special categories of “children’s rights”, “women’s rights”, ”students’ rights”, “workers’ rights”, etc., in order to iron out the differences. It must be admitted that this activity has often had beneficial effects in abolishing discrimination and cruelty that is based more on prejudice than on reason. However, the fact of unjust discrimination in some, even many cases does not alter the fact that many of the physical, sexual, maturational, psychological and social differences between men are important, and require corresponding differences in rights and obligations if the good of each man, and of society as a whole, is to be achieved. Moreover, the argument based on commonality of nature has been taken to absurd extremes in recent times, when it has been seriously maintained that if an animal has, say, 95% of the DNA of a human being he should have 95% of his human rights!

Christianity teaches love, not egalitarianism. St. Paul, for example, teaches that masters and slaves should love each other. He does not teach that slaves should rebel against their masters, or that they have the “right” to freedom. At the same time, if all men practised the commandment of love, there would be no need for revolution; for every kind of cruel and irrational discrimination would disappear of itself. But society would still be structured and hierarchical, because that is the way God created men to live together.

5. The only serious check that human rights theorists admit on the absolute freedom and right of human beings to do whatever they want is the so-called harm principle, which was enshrined in article 4 of the original 1789 Declaration of Human Rights. The most influential development of this principle comes in John Stuart Mill’s famous essay, On Liberty, where, fully in keeping with the Anglo-Saxon “freedom from” tradition, he sees it not so much as restriction on liberty, as an affirmation of liberty, an affirmation of the individual’s right to be free from the control, not only of the state, but of any “tyrannical majority” in matters that were his private business: “The object of this essay is to assert one very simple principle, as entitled to govern absolutely the dealings of society with the individual in the way of compulsion and control, whether the means to be used be physical force in the form of legal penalties or the moral coercion of public opinion. That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of anyone or which it is amenable to society is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”[30] Mill asserted that this “Liberty Principle” or “Harm Principle” applied only to people in “the maturity of their faculties”, not to children or to “those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage.”[31] For “Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved through free and equal discussion”.[32]

James Fitzjames Stephen, in his Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873) pointed to an important flaw in Mill’s argument. Liberty was like fire, he said; it could be used for good and ill; to assume otherwise was naïve and dangerous. With regard to freedom of speech, it was by no means certain that full freedom from interference by others would lead to greater searching for truth; it could just as easily lead to idleness and lack of interest in social affairs… Moreover, he was disturbed, writes Gertrude Himmelfarth, that the adoption of Mill’s doctrine might “leave society impotent in those situations where there was a genuine need for social action. Implicit too was the possibility that the withdrawal of social sanctions against any particular belief or act would be interpreted as a sanctioning of that belief or act, a licence to do that which society could not prohibit.”[33]

Stephen’s line of argument has been developed in our time by Lord Devlin in his essay entitled The Enforcement of Morals (1968). “The occasion for Devlin’s essay,” writes Himmelfarth, “was the Report of the Wolfenden Commission recommending the legalization of homosexuality between consenting adults. Against the Commission’s claim that private morality and immorality were ‘not the law’s business’, Devlin argued that ‘the suppression of vice is as much the law’s business as the suppression of subversive activities; it is not more possible to define a sphere of private morality than it is to define private subversive activity.”[34]

As we know, the Wolfenden Commission’s recommendation with regard to homosexuality was accepted by the English parliament, which demonstrates the power – the highly destructive power – that the application of Mill’s Principle has acquired in our times, a power that Mill himself would probably have deplored. Indeed, a completely consistent application of the Principle would probably lead to the sweeping away of prohibitions against such activities as euthanasia, incest and prostitution on the grounds that these are within the sphere of private morality or immorality and so of no concern to the State. But then, asks Devlin, “if prostitution is… not the law’s business, what concern has the law with the ponce or the brothel-keeper…? The Report recommends that the laws which make these activities criminal offences should be maintained… and brings them… under the heading of exploitation…. But in general a ponce exploits a prostitute no more than an impresario exploits an actress.”[35]

Mill justifies the prohibition of certain acts, such as public decency, on the grounds that they “are a violation of good manners, … coming thus within the category of offences against others”. And yet, as Jonathan Wolff points out, it is difficult to see how such a prohibition can be justified on the basis of the Harm Principle alone. For “what harm does ‘public indecency’ do? After all, Mill insists that mere offence is no harm…”[36]

It all depends on what we mean by “harm”. And that depends on our fundamental belief-system. So it all comes down to the fundamental question: what is the ultimate good of man?... But this question can only answered by answering the further questions: “Who made us?” “What did He make us for?” “Can the goal of human life as created by God be attained by striving to fulfil all our fallen human desires?” These are religious questions that are resolutely pushed aside by human rights theorists. They start, by contrast, from the premise that the goal of human life is not prescribed by God, but by ourselves, and consists solely in the satisfaction of fallen desire…

This anti-religious bias of the philosophy of human rights arose from its original need to create a rational basis for resolving conflict within and between societies. Although its originators considered themselves to be Christians, Christian teaching was eliminated from the beginning as the basis of conflict resolution, since the Pope was considered the final judge in matters of Christian teaching – and the Pope was the cause of most of the conflicts in the first place. The basis therefore had to be above Christianity – while incorporating Christian values, since the warring parties were still (at that time) Christians. It had to be a “self-evident”, common-sense consensus on which all the parties could agree. And if a philosophical rationale for this consensus was required, it was to be found in the common human needs and desires that all the parties shared.

However, this whole approach was implicitly anti-Christian for two important reasons. First, by placing something other than the Word of God at the base of the theoretical structure, it was implicitly asserting that a human philosophy can supplement, complement, or, still worse, improve on the Word of God – which implies a lack of faith in the Word of God. And secondly, it implies that the purpose of life is to satisfy the fallen needs and desires of human nature, which is an essentially pagan approach to life.

This latter point was quite consciously recognized by J.S. Mill, who defended his Harm or Liberty Principle on the basis, among other things, that it fostered that ideal of the vigorous, independent man, unafraid of being different, even eccentric, which he found in Classical Greece. Indeed, he openly rejected the ascetic, Calvinist ideal in favour of the pagan Greek: “There is a different type of human excellence from the Calvinistic: a conception of humanity as having its nature bestowed on it for other purposes than merely to be abnegated. ‘Pagan self-assertion’ is one of the elements of human worth, as well as ‘Christian self-denial’. There is a Greek ideal of self-development, which the Platonic and Christian ideal of self-government blends with, but does not supersede. It may be better to be a John Knox than an Alcibiades, but it is better to be a Pericles than either; nor would a Pericles, if we had one in these days, be without anything good which belonged to John Knox.”[37]

This from a conservative liberal who was certainly against any revolutionary excess. But in the hands of consciously anti-Christian revolutionaries, the philosophy of human rights became the instrument, not of “pagan self-assertion” of the cultured, Periclean type, but of pagan destruction of the most uncultured, barbarian type. The long series of bloody revolutions set off by, and claiming their justification from, the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man is the proof of that…

Conclusion: Human Rights in the Post-Soviet Era

“If God does not exist,” says one of Dostoyevsky’s characters, “then everything is permissible.” For God and His commandments are the only foundation of morality. Every other foundation devised by the wit of man has proved to be porous, unstable, liable at any moment to dissolve into the abyss of anarchical egotism, on the one hand, or tyrannical despotism, on the other.

Human rights is a philosophy that leads to anarchical egotism – and then to its apparent opposite, tyrannical despotism. But, as Nicholas Berdiaev pointed out: "Neither 'human rights' nor 'the will of the people', nor both together can be the foundation of human society. For the one contradicts the other: 'the rights of the human personality', understood as the final foundations of society, deny the primacy of social unity; 'the will of the people', as an absolute social basis, denies the principle of personality. There can be, and in fact is, only some kind of eclectic, unprincipled compromise between the two principles, which witnesses to the fact that neither is the primary principle of society. If one genuinely believes in the one or the other, then one has to choose between the unlimited despotism of social unity, which annihilates the personality - and boundless anarchy, which annihilates social order and together with it every personal human existence."[38]

In spite of the manifest failures of these extremes, modern man continues to search for some such foundation for his life. For although He does not believe in God, – at any rate, the traditional image of God that most Europeans and Americans believed in until the beginning of the twentieth century, - he does believe in morality. Or rather, he believes in morality for others, not himself. What he really wants is to be free to pursue the life he wants to lead, - the life which brings him the maximum of pleasure and the minimum of pain, - without being interfered with by anybody else, whether that somebody else be God, the State, or some other individual or group of individuals. However, he knows that in a society without laws, in which everybody is free to pursue the life he wants the life he wants to lead without any kind of restriction, he will not achieve his personal goal. For if everybody were completely free in this way, there would be anarchy, and life would be “nasty, brutish and short” – for everybody. So a compromise must be found.

The compromise is a kind of religionless morality. Let some powerful body – preferably the post-revolutionary State, certainly not God or the Church, because God is unpredictably and unpleasantly demanding – impose certain limits on everybody. But let those limits be as restricted and unrestrictive as possible. And let there be a set of rules accepted by all States - preferably enforced by some World Government – that puts limits on the limits that States can place on their citizens. These rules we can then call “human rights”, and they can be our morality. Thus “human rights” include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; judicial rights, like the right to a free trial, and freedom from torture and the death penalty; sexual rights, like the rights to have sex with any consenting adult, reproduce a child by any means, and to destroy that child in the womb; and economic, social and cultural rights, like the right to participate in culture, to have food and water and healthcare, the right to work, and the right to education. This morality will be permissive in the sense that it will permit very many things previous, more religious ages considered unlawful. But it will not permit everything; it will not permit others to interfere with my life of pleasure so long as I don’t interfere with theirs…

There will be another important advantage to this system: for those who believe in, and champion, “human rights”, it will be a source of great pride and self-satisfaction. They will be able to preach it to others, even impose it on others, with the sweet knowledge that they are doing good and serving mankind – no, rather, saving mankind.[39] After all, the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action declares: “All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and related. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis”. This provides the justification for the invasion of individual countries by “the international community” in order to correct human rights abuses. So the belief in, and justification and implementation of, “human rights” will turn out to be a new kind of universal religion, with a new kind of god, a new kind of sanctity and a new kind of paradise – a kingdom of god on earth that is so much more conducive to the needs of modern man than the old kind that was too far away in “heaven” and boringly devoid of the real pleasures of life!

The revolution sparked off by the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789 is continuing today, not as bloodily as before, but more extreme than ever in the absurdity and multiplicity of its claims. Thus the numbers of “human rights” have increased exponentially. The fact that many of these rights contradict each other (for example, the right to life contradicts the right to abortion), and that there is no way that more than a fraction of these rights can be fulfilled for more than a fraction of the world’s population for the foreseeable future only increases the zeal and ambition of the “human righters”. Now every minority group that has not fulfilled its desires to the utmost claims victim status, the violation of its “human rights” and blames the oppressor state and society. If Mills feared above all the “tyranny of the majority” opinion, and therefore championed the rights of every eccentric to express his views (provided they were “decent”), today, taking advantage of our ultra-liberal laws, it is the tyranny of millions of minorities that has taken over society, almost outlawing the beliefs of “the silent majority”.

Melanie Phillips has perceptively described the onslaught of the philosophy of human rights on traditional Christian culture in Britain as “cultural Marxism”, the continuation of the Marxist revolution by other means since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989:-

“As communism slowly crumbled, those on the far Left who remained hostile towards western civilization found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.

“This was what might be called ‘cultural Marxism’. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

“The key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals – who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.

“Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of ‘production, distribution and exchange’ as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution.

“He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be formed into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.

“So he advocated a ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down.

“This strategy has been carried out to the letter.

“The nuclear family has been widely shattered. Illegitimacy was transformed from a stigma into a ‘right’. The tragic disadvantage of fatherlessness was redefined as a neutrally viewed ‘lifestyle choice’.

“Education was wrecked, with its core tenet of transmitting a culture to successive generations replaced by the idea that what children already knew was of superior value to anything the adult world might foist upon them.

“The outcome of this ‘child-centred’ approach has been widespread illiteracy and ignorance and an eroded capacity for independent thought.

“Law and order were similarly undermined, with criminals deemed to be beyond punishment since they were ‘victims’ of society and with illegal drug-taking tacitly encouraged by a campaign to denigrate anti-drugs laws.

“The ‘rights’ agenda – commonly known as ‘political correctness’ – turned morality inside out by excusing any misdeeds by self-designated ‘victim’ groups on the grounds that such ‘victims’ could never be held responsible for what they did.

“Feminism, anti-racism and gay rights thus turned men, while people and Christians into the enemies of decency who were forced to jump through hoops to prove their virtue.

“This Through the Looking Glass mindset rests on the belief that the world is divided into the powerful (who are responsible for all bad things) and the oppressed (who are responsible for none of them).

“This is a Marxist doctrine. But the extent to which such Marxist thinking has been taken up unwittingly even by the Establishment was illustrated by the astounding observation made in 2005 by the then senior law lord, Lord Bingham, that human rights law was all about protecting ‘oppressed’ minorities from the majority…

“When the Berlin Wall fell, we told ourselves that this was the end of ideology. We could not have been more wrong.

“The Iron Curtain came down only to be replaced by a rainbow-hued knuckle duster, as our cultural commissars pulverise all forbidden attitudes in order to reshape western society into a post-democratic, post-Christian, post-moral universe. Lenin would have smiled…”[40]

Vladimir Moss.

January 21 / February 3, 2009.

St. Maximus the Confessor.

[1] Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, vol. 2, part II, p. 129.

[2] McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, Routledge: London and New York, 1996, p. 123..

[3] Aquinas, in Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy, London: Allen Unwin, 1946, p. 648.

[4] De Rosa, Vicars of Christ, London: Bantam Press, 1988, p. 71.

[5] De Rosa, op. cit., p. 72.

[6] McClelland, op. cit., 1996, p. 199.

[7] Scruton, Modern Philosophy, London: Arrow Books, 1997, p. 415.

[8] Hobbes, Leviathan, 1, XV.

[9] Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government. Locke’s criticism of Hobbes was later echoed by the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, who asked: had not the author of Leviathan “forgot to mention Kindness, Friendship, Sociableness, Love of Company and Converse, Natural affection, or anything of this kind?” (quoted in Roy Porter, Enlightenment, London: Penguin Books, p. 160).

[10] Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, chapter 2, section 6.

[11] Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, chapter 13, section 149.


[13] Locke, An Essay concerning the true, original, extent, and end of Civil Government (1690).

[14] Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, chapter 13, section 149.

[15] Russell, op. cit., pp. 662-663.

[16] Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, treatise 2, chapter 14, section 168.

[17] J.R. Western, Monarchy and Revolution, London: Blandford Press, 1972, p. 25.

[18] Scruton, op. cit., p. 416.

[19] Walicki, A History of Russian Thought, Oxford: Clarendon, 1988, p. 39.

[20] Scruton, op. cit., p. 417.

[21] Tikhomirov, “Demokratia liberal’naia i sotsial’naia” (“Liberal and Social Democracy”), in Kritika Demokratia (A Critique of Democracy), Moscow: “Moskva”, 1997, p. 122 (in Russian).

[22] Metropolitan Philaret, Sochinenia (Works), Moscow, 1877, vol. 3, pp. 448, 449; reprinted in Pravoslavnaia Zhizn’ (Orthodox Life), 49, № 9 (573), September, 1997, pp. 3-4 (in Russian).

[23] Scruton, The West and the Rest, London: ISI Books, 2002, pp. 10-11.

[24] Norman Davies, Europe: A History, London: Pimlico, 1997, pp. 713-714.

[25] Jean Comby, How to Read Church History, London: SCM Press, 1989, volume 2, p. 113.

[26] This was not such a new notion. Thus Hugh Grotius wrote in Concerning the Law of Prize (1604): “Freedom of trade is based a primitive right of nations”.

[27] Locke, Second Treatise on Government, 57.

[28] Sir Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958.

[29] Archbishop Theophan, On the Unity of Nature, p. 11. In what sense, it may then be asked, did Christ take on human nature? Did He take on human nature understood as an abstract unity, or as the human species comprising all individual human hypostases? Neither the one nor the other, according to St. John of Damascus. For, as Professor Georgios Mantzaridis explains the Holy Father’s thought: “’nature’ can be understood firstly to denote an abstraction, in which case it has no intrinsic reality; secondly, to denote a species, in which case it comprises all the individual hypostases of that species; and thirdly, it can be viewed as a particular, in which case it is linked with the nature of the species but does not comprise all its individual hypostases. The Logos of God made flesh did not take on human nature in the first two senses, because in the first case there would be no incarnation but only delusion, and in the second case there would be incarnation in all human individual hypostases. Therefore, what the Logos of God took on in His incarnation was the ‘first-fruits of our substance’, individual nature, which did not previously exist as individual in itself, but came into existence in His hypostasis” (The Deification of Man, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984, pp. 29-30).

[30] Mill, On Liberty, London: Penguin Classics, 1974, pp. 68-69.

[31] Mill, On Liberty, p. 69.

[32] Mill, On Liberty, p. 69.

[33] Himmelfarth, in Mill, On Liberty, p. 40.

[34] Himmelfarth, in Mill, On Liberty, p. 41.

[35] Devlin, in Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 141.

[36] For the difficulties created for Mills’ theory by public indecency, see several articles in Philosophy Now, issue 76, November-December, 2009.

[37] Mill, On Liberty, p. 127.

[38] Berdyaev, N. "Religioznie osnovy obshchestvennosti" (“The Religious Foundations of Society”), Put'(The Way), № 1, September, 1925, p. 13 (in Russian).

[39] This statement was endorsed at the 2005 World Summit in New York (paragraph 121).

[40] Phillips, “We were fools to think the fall of the Berlin Wall had killed off the far Left. They’re back – and attacking us from within”, The Daily Mail (London), November 9, 2009, p. 14.

January 23, 2010

O presupunere gresita a agnosticului Sagan

Agnosticul Carl Sagan sustinea ca un univers ce exista infinit in trecut ar infirma ideea unui Creator al Universului. Ceea ce este fals, bineinteles. Si tradeaza ignoranta si lipsa de sofisticare. Chiar si in acest caz, este rezonabil (chiar firesc!) sa asumi Creatia ca avand loc din transcendent, adica *din afara* seriei temporale, ceea ce e asumat oricum in crestinism!
Sagan, however, denied that he was an atheist: "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know." In reply to a question in 1996 about his religious beliefs, Sagan answered, "I'm agnostic." Sagan maintained that the idea of a creator of the universe was difficult to prove or disprove and that the only conceivable scientific discovery that could challenge it would be an infinitely old universe.

December 28, 2009


Misotheism (μισόθεος a compound of μίσος "hatred" and θεός "god") is the hating the gods, or hatred of God. The term has its origin in Aeschylus' depiction of Prometheus in Prometheus Bound and Prometheus Unbound. Prometheus professed hatred of the gods because of their punishment of him for bringing fire to humankind. "Misotheist" is the expression given to a person who blames God for negative experiences within that person's life that result in a spitefulness towards God. It can also be a expression of disdain for the teachings of God, or when one believes that God is unjust or evil.

Din clişeele fundamentaliştilor atei (3) - Stalin

Sa-l lăsăm acum pe Stalin să vorbească - o alta schemă (nu prea departe de cea precedentă !) folosită intensiv de ateii militanţi de azi:
"God's not unjust, he doesn't actually exist. We've been deceived. If God existed, he'd have made the world more just... I'll lend you a book and you'll see." (A teenaged Stalin after reading The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Quoted by Simon Sebag Montefiore, Young Stalin, p. 49)
Astăzi Stalin ar cita din Dawkins ?... Se poate :-)