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FYI-FTR: On justice and rights as manifestly evident natural moral law principles (and the early modern era reform of governance)

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One of the themes that has come up in the ongoing exchanges on the perils of our civilisation (with homosexualisation of marriage under colour of law as a key case in point) is the issue of justice, rights and manifestly evident core principles of the natural moral law.  Given current trends, this issue is well worth a particular focus.

(On the wider issue of the objectivity of morality, I suggest here as a start. BTW, objectors should note that when they try to show us to be in the wrong, they are showing an implicit knowledge that core moral principles are binding and generally known, including justice and rights. That is, despite talking points to the contrary they know that core morality is objective and binding. So, they should ponder what sort of worldview is such that its foundations are capable of bearing the weight of ought. Such points straight to the classic understanding that evil is the privation, frustration or twisting out of purpose of the good from its proper end, thence a point raised by Boethius: “If God exists, whence evil? But whence good, if God does not exist?”  [Cf. also Koukl on evil and God, here. Those inclined to try to taint and dismiss such philosophical issues as “religion” — too often used as a dirty word nowadays by people who should know much better — should take pause, on realising that the name of that particular strawman tactic is appeal to prejudice. Also, FTR, I nowhere identify a golden age in any past epoch in which finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often ill-willed human beings have struggled to build a somewhat more just community.  That accusation, too, is a toxically laced strawman set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. But I do deeply respect classical, powerful insights, statements of principle and reforms that we should treasure rather than dismiss with a silly TL;DR. Likewise, as my earliest most enduring intellectual love has been history, I understand that sound history’s lessons were bought at the cost of blood and tears; those who sneer at them, dismiss, ignore or neglect such, doom themselves to pay the same price over and over again. And here, I point out that the cycle of the Peloponnesian war (which ruined an Athens that had grasped for empire and fell into hubris) forms the backdrop for Plato’s warning on the perils of evolutionary materialism, radical relativism on justice and nihilistic factionalism — is full of sobering lessons for us.])

A good point to start with is an exchange I had a few days past with ZL, which shows the two key perspectives in action:

KF — “ZL, Justice is a moral issue and without it law degenerates into tyranny.”

[ZL:] And it has done a lousy job over the last few centuries. The same centuries that you claim were much better than the one we are currently in. The civilization that you claim is heading towards the cliff, the way lemmings don’t, to an inevitable broken back.

This of course first fits in with the tainting of Christendom, which is a major theme of advocates of drastic changes in the base and substance of law and government today. The West, especially insofar as it is influenced by the Judaeo-Christian frame, and let us add a summary from Schaeffer as modified:

Schaeffers_vision_extended

. . . is judged to be a colossal failure and chief exemplar of injustice that deserves to be broken and replaced by something better. Almost anything else, it seems, would do.

Of course, the dismissive reference to lemmings relates to this cartoon and linked ideas:

Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .
Of Lemmings, marches of folly and cliffs of self-falsifying absurdity . . .

The focal issue here, however is not what Disney may or may not have done with their notorious documentary, but whether there is in fact a problem of mass induced group think in communities that can and does lead to mass marches of folly. (In ever so many of our animal metaphors, there are debatable word-pictures, but the substance of the story is very relevant. For instance, Franklin objected to the Bald Eagle as symbol of the American nation because of its real habits. He suggested the Turkey instead. A miss.)

And in fact there is a definite related problem in communities, and even civilisations, the spiral of silence:

spiral-of-silenceAs University of Twente, Netherlands, summarises:

Neumann (1974) introduced the “spiral of silence” as an attempt to explain in part how public opinion is formed. She wondered why the Germans supported wrong political positions that led to national defeat, humiliation and ruin in the 1930s-1940s . . . . The phrase “spiral of silence” actually refers to how people tend to remain silent when they feel that their views are in the minority. The model is based on three premises: 1) people have a “quasi-statistical organ,” a sixth-sense if you will, which allows them to know the prevailing public opinion, even without access to polls, 2) people have a fear of isolation and know what behaviors will increase their likelihood of being socially isolated, and 3) people are reticent to express their minority views, primarily out of fear of being isolated.

In short, the problem is real and it indeed can contribute to what noted historical writer Barbara Tuchman termed, the march of folly. (Edgar Schein’s analysis of mass manipulation/ indoctrination or “brainwashing” through elaborating Kurt Lewin’s  ice cube model: frozen –> unfreezing –> changing –> refreezing, is also highly relevant but too often lies unknown.)

Likewise, before we taint and angrily discard the heritage of Christendom, we would do well to heed the counsel of noted Orientalist Bernard Lewis in his epochal 1990 essay, The Roots of Muslim Rage:

. . . The accusations are familiar. We of the West are accused of sexism, racism, and imperialism, institutionalized in patriarchy and slavery, tyranny and exploitation. To these charges, and to others as heinous, we have no option but to plead guilty — not as Americans, nor yet as Westerners, but simply as human beings, as members of the human race. In none of these sins are we the only sinners, and in some of them we are very far from being the worst. The treatment of women in the Western world, and more generally in Christendom, has always been unequal and often oppressive, but even at its worst it was rather better than the rule of polygamy and concubinage that has otherwise been the almost universal lot of womankind on this planet . . . .

In having practiced sexism, racism, and imperialism, the West was merely following the common practice of mankind through the millennia of recorded history. Where it is distinct from all other civilizations is in having recognized, named, and tried, not entirely without success, to remedy these historic diseases. And that is surely a matter for congratulation, not condemnation. We do not hold Western medical science in general, or Dr. Parkinson and Dr. Alzheimer in particular, responsible for the diseases they diagnosed and to which they gave their names.

We may clip:

>>[KF:] 1 –> Due to invasion conjoined to mass immigration and internal economic and policy mismanagement, the W Roman empire collapsed across the 400’s AD [with a near run in the 200’s], triggering about 1,000 years of chaos and struggle to get back up to a reasonable level of civilisation.

early_islamist_expansion2 –> A major feature of this period of broken backed struggle was the Islamic invasion, which it took 800 years of struggle in Iberia to force back out of W Europe.

3 –> Along the way, the printing press was invented and so a mass medium became possible, leading to mass literacy, newspapers and the emergence of a reasonably informed and communicative public, 1400 – 1700 or so. First time in human history.

4 –> This was the critical enabling development that made modern representational democracy possible. {–> an illustration of the three dimensional spectrum of state, leadership and lawfulness will help us focus on what was developed through an ever so long struggle of reformation. Where the zone in the centre is sustainable but requires eternal vigilance and a well informed, balanced, mature, responsible public, or else it is liable to either deteriorate towards anarchic chaos that will trigger a snapback to oligarchy or autocratic tyranny, or else will decline through manipulation and indoctrination into oligarchic domination by ultimately self destructive agendas and their strategic leaders and planners:}

U/d b for clarity, nb Nil
U/d b for clarity, nb Nil

5 –> Across this period, connected to the Reformation, we had the rise of the principles of the double covenant understanding: nationhood under God with the state as accountable to the people and under God as bearers of the sword of justice.

6 –> In the 1690’s, Locke laid out the following in Ch 2 of his 2nd treatise on civil gov’t, citing Hooker from 100 years before to ground what would become the basis of recognition of rights and freedom in the modern democratic state:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80]

7 –> thus the moral principle of governance and the implication of reciprocal rights and duties of equals in moral worth and nature becomes the basis on which the law making power of the state can be soundly grounded. Notice, moral governance comes first and is the basis of sound law.

8 –> In the next century, there would ensue a struggle towards constitutional, representative democracy, leading to the breakthrough of the US DoI, 1776 (as was cited in the OP):

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

8 –> Where, of course the general election was established as a peaceful means of audit, reform and replacement of government, towards progress. And where also the commitment to principles enshrined in key declarations and basis law such as written Constitutions, became a pivotal check on the danger of democracy deteriorating into a manipulated marauding mob: three wolves and two lambs voting on what is for lunch.

9 –> The issue then became, sound reformation in a democratic polity through moral suasion and peaceful policy deliberation in a representative based parliament or the equivalent. And

10 –> from this in the next 200 years — never mind the struggles to address the sins of Christendom [many of which are actually the sins of old and of all . . . ] — many vital reforms would come the safe way; as opposed to the futile chaos that consistently emerged from the alternative pioneered by the French Revolution, radical violent overthrow and establishment of a dictatorship (usually with a reign of terror).

11 –> In his epochal 1990 essay, The Roots of Muslim Rage (I suggest download, careful reading and pondering, if one hopes to understand our current age . . . ), the great orientalist Bernard Lewis [a Jew, BTW, so coming from an often oppressed minority targetted for genocide within living memory] gives us a sober balance that we would do well to heed instead of playing the old game of indicting and tainting Christendom for the world’s ills and trashing its soundest lessons of history bought with blood and tears . . .

12 –> There is a hard-bought mature wisdom of scholarship and sound insight into history in [Lewis’ words as were already cited above], which starkly contrasts with the distract- distort-denigrate- rhetorically taint- dismiss mentality that is all too evident in this thread and elsewhere to the point of being a feature of the manipulative agenda tactics I have exposed.

13 –> In this context, we are now in a position to again address the latest issue being distracted from, the problem of extreme nominalism imposed through the inherently self-falsifying, inescapably amoral lab coat clad worldview of evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers.

14 –> For that, let me clip my response to EZ, attn you (ZL) at 137 above:

extreme nominalism even when imposed under colour of law based on the shadow games of the cave will not change reality; and you have proceeded to impose assumption rather than address the implications of such nominalism . . . start with, who determines what words that have such powerful abracadabra in them mean, and see if you are not at might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘value,’ ‘meaning,’ ‘law and justice’ etc. And of course there is a right name for that, nihilism –> oops democracy  –> oops manipulated mob rule in the teeth of reality –> oops, ruin. (As in cf the history of the Peloponnesian war, again. Esp the Sicilian expedition.)The case of adulteration of the denarius should give an idea of consequences. As should the consensus of Mr Moneybags, the Technico and the people in defiance of reality here. Unfortunately our civilisation — on many dimensions not just this issue, seems bent on learning the lesson of a broken back.>>

I went on to warn:

seven_mountains_culture_agenda. . . radical demands grounded in extreme nominalism (and onwards, in underlying self referentially incoherent evolutionary materialism and/or its fellow travellers . . . ) are wanting on both principled foundations and on protections of justice. This is patently manifest in how the seven mountain commanding heights of community and civilisation are being usurped to manipulate marriage and family under false colours of law, as this thread and others so abundantly show.

It is thus worth headlining again for those willing to reflect, from the prior thread’s original post, the following on natural moral law and rights:

>>1 –> inescapably, we are morally governed as individuals and as communities.

2 –> on pain of immediate, patent absurdities, core moral principles are evident to conscience guided reason to certainty and are binding.

3 –> systems of thought that reduce morality to subjectivity, relativism or to illusion end in implying grand delusion and utter unreliability of our intelligence and conscience.

4 –> likewise, for things that undermine the premise that we have responsible, rational freedom and quasi-infinite worth and dignity; aptly captured in the traditional Judaeo Christian premise that we are equally created in the image of the good God and just Lord of all worlds.

5 –> Right to life, to liberty, to conscience and responsible expression, to innocent reputation, to the fruit of our labour and more flow from this, as say the US DoI of 1776 epochally acknowledges.

6 –> That document sums up this view in terms of the laws of nature and of nature’s God. It has far deeper idea roots and a centuries deep history behind it. Its legacy of liberty speaks for itself. Let me clip its first two paragraphs, noting the right of reformation and if necessary revolution in the face of a long train of abuses and usurpations (where the ballot box provides a peaceful instrument of audit, replacement, reformation and revolution but is critically dependent on an informed, responsible public cf the Ac 27 case here . . . a sobering lesson on the perils of manipulated democracy):

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

7 –> In this context, a core basic right is a binding moral expectation to be respected in regards to key aspects of our nature. That is, it is the mirror image and dual of mutually binding obligations imposed by our nature and its inherent dignity. That is rights are inherently matters of moral law connected to our nature.

8 –> As a consequence, a rights claim is a claim to be in the right and to be owed duties of care by others of like morally freighted nature.

9 –> You cannot have a right to the wrong, you cannot demand that others enable and support you in the wrong, such is to poison other souls with the taint of compulsion to do and to support the wrong. Such is monstrous and wicked.

10 –> Likewise, there are no rights to twist key institutions crucial to human thriving as individuals, families and communities. For the blessings of the civil peace of justice and liberty under legitimate law are key requisites of human thriving.

11 –> This holds for demanding that marriage be perverted through lawfare and agit prop, and the linked demand that sexual perversion

[–> forgive strong and doubtless unpalatable  words that may well trigger emotional reactions; yes . . . words that are almost as strong as the now all too common and utterly unjustified accusations bigot, hater and moral equivalent of racist, but they are unfortunately warranted and made necessary and appropriate by the point that the best definition of another strong word — evil — is: the privation, frustration or twisting [i.e. perversion] of what is good out of its proper end; cf. also here on the subject of manipulation of marriage through law and here on the wider subject of errors and gaps in widely promoted thought on homosexuality . . . ]

. . . be acknowledged on equal terms with the manifest order of nature stamped into our genes, organs, biology of reproduction and social- psychological- relational requisites of sound child nurture.>>

For record. There being a live thread already in progress, discussion and comments may be entertained there. END