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The human rights era failed us

More than 70 years into the human rights era, the world is no more peaceful or tolerant

Following the atrocities of World War II, Europe’s leaders and great thinkers sought to wrestle away authority from governments, which had for too long tended towards tyranny, and place rights in the hands of the individual. The zeal in which legal philosophers promoted the very enlightenment ideas that culminated with the spilling of immense amounts of blood in France in 1793, should have at least given pause to the movement. Personal autonomy, however, became deified and the natural law gave way to moral positivism. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in Paris and the human rights era officially began.

Along the way, human rights discourse has evolved and adopted nefarious elements from Gramscianism, moral populism, radical secularism, and Benthamist utilitarianism. The demand for rights, unfettered personal autonomy, and victimhood have become Western virtues. The desire for the common good, duty and personal responsibility have all waned as a result. 

Sin, it is said, has a gravitational pull. The Roman philosopher Cicero, living before Christ, gave witness to the fact that one of the main flaws of the human condition is man’s willingness to trade away his salvation for comfort and distraction: 

The evil was not in bread and circuses, per se, but in the willingness of the people to sell their rights as free men for full bellies and the excitement of the games   which would serve to distract them from the other human hungers which bread and circuses can never appease.

More than 2000 years later, not much has changed. Human history is replete with accounts of great cultures which have fallen away after becoming consumed with the cult of self-idolatry and moral libertinism. It is a relevant question at this turbulent point in history whether Western civilisation as we know it will fare any better than these earlier civilisations. 

Much has changed in the wake of the sexual revolution. Lord Denning, in an address delivered in 1952, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II took the coronation oath, made the following observation: 

It is, I suggest to you, a most significant thing that a judge could draw his principles of injustice from the Christian commandment of love. I do not know where else he is to find them. The common law of England has been moulded for centuries by judges who have been brought up in the Christian faith.

Almost 70 years later and the moral culture of the United Kingdom has become largely unrecognisable to what it once was. Some simple statistics bare out the radical changes in British society. 

In 1952, only 4.8 per cent of babies were born outside marriage. The figure is now 46.8 per cent. In 1952 divorce was rare, affecting only 33,922 couples. In 2019 there were 107, 599 divorces. The increase in divorces between 2018 to 2019 was the largest such increase in 50 years.  Rather than trying to reclaim a healthy marriage culture, and during a period of coronavirus restrictions where marriage ceremonies themselves were banned, Parliament introduced no fault divorce laws making obtaining a divorce easier than ever.

In 1967, when abortion was legalised, there had been 21, 400 abortions performed. In 2016, despite the cultural mainstreaming of contraception, 208, 553 abortions were performed, nearly 10 times the amount from 1967. Things are getting worse and not better. 2019 saw the greatest number of abortions ever performed in England and Wales. Since the decriminalisation of abortion in 1967, more than 9 million children have been aborted making a mother’s womb the most dangerous place to be a child in the United Kingdom. The government has gone so far as to introduce “do it yourself” home abortions which require no in-person consultation with medical professionals. They have also forced abortion liberalisation on Northern Ireland. 

To once again put the common good above personal desires, we need to recognise that current theories have led us astray

Family stability has not fared much better. According to the United Kingdom’s Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, there were 102, 000 looked after children in the UK. The number of children taken into care has risen every year since 2010 and more than 10 per cent in the last 5 years alone.

Cases of gender confusion in children have also reached the level of a public health crisis. According to official NHS statistics, in 2009, the year before the Equality Act 2010 became law and gender identity belief was taught in schools, there were only 97 children referred to gender identity clinics. Last year alone, that number was 2519 children. Statistically, these children self-harm and attempt suicide at an exponentially higher rate than other children their age.

The United Kingdom has also seen a startling number of high-profile cases where courts have ordered the starvation and dehydration of people to death in the name of “compassion”. The world watched with bated breath in the spring of 2018 as the parents of Alfie Evans sought to remove their 2-year-old child to an Italian hospital for alternative care after a court ordered that his ventilation, hydration and feeding be stopped. Despite the intervention of the Pope and the Italian government granting baby Alfie citizenship, police guarded Alfie’s hospital door to ensure that no one was able to take actions to prolong his life.

More recently, over Christmas, a Polish man who suffered a heart-attack while living and working in the United Kingdom was likewise ordered to have nutrition and hydration removed until he died. Despite the Polish government’s intervention, which included giving the man diplomatic status in their efforts to bring him home to Poland, the UK government refused to relent, and the man eventually died due to the removal of his care.

As a culture we now define the individual by their ability to derive pleasure from life instead of by any spiritual barometer. Their value within the spectrum of political worth is defined by their minority characteristics. This philosophical outworking of this new state of affairs include intersectionality, queer theory, critical race theory, identity politics and democratic socialism.  

Western nations are now making highly ideological education mandatory for our children — the future is bleak

The emergence of this phenomenon in Western Europe has come swiftly and aggressively. These theories, in essence, politicise and prioritise certain “minority” characteristics such as race, class, sexual orientation and religion; weaponizing them against traditional norms. 

The concept of counter-hegemony is deeply rooted in all of these different theories. They seek to dismantle the existing cultural hegemony by cultural subversion and opposition, challenging the legitimacy of existing super-structural institutions like family, religion and political power. They seek to deconstruct heteronormativity and biological sex with no less effort than the people of the East tried to build their Tower of Babel.

A counter-hegemony is an alternative ethical view of society that seeks to challenge, undermine and replace the existing bourgeoisie power structure. Antonio Gramsci, one of the forefathers of today’s intersectionality, viewed the task thus: “Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity…in the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches, and the media by transforming the consciousness of society.

Put succinctly, the animus now exhibited towards Christians and Judeo-Christian cultural norms in Western Europe is because of the outworking of these different movements as a cultural force entrenched among the political and academic class, which has made its way into mainstream culture.

These forces are also at play at the international institutions, among which the European Union and United Nations are perhaps the worst actors in seeking to undermine national sovereignty, and recast Europe in its own image. Ironically, neither of these institutions are particularly democratic and much of their efforts are effectuated by a deeply entrenched class of civil servants and ideologues who were never elected by the people and do not act for the people. 

The statistics cited at the beginning of this article evidence a culture in rapid decline. With many Western nations now making mandatory highly ideological education for our children, bombarding them with the ideas born of the various philosophies discussed in this article, the future is bleak.

If we are to reclaim a healthy marriage and family culture, to give meaning back to the term human dignity and to once again put the common good above personal desires, we need to recognise that the current theories guiding the law have led us astray. We are more than 70 years into the human rights era and we cannot say that the world is a more peaceful or tolerant place. These ideas have not solved the moral evils that plague each generation such as poverty, violence, hate, crime and injustice. If anything, these issues have become exacerbated and the human family seems more dysfunctional than ever.

It is time to serious re-evaluate the path we have taken since the era of human rights began. If we fail to do so, we run the risk of straying too far to find our way back home. If not for our own well-being, then for our children should we act. The time is now.

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