Archives for posts with tag: rights

SARS-CoV 2 lock-downs have intensified the already heated discussion about ‘rights’. About “our rights”. Which have to be defended “at all costs”.

The way I see it, rights can be evaluated from two directions.
As ‘gifts’. Either gifted to us by ‘higher authorities’ or conquered for us by our ancestors.
Or as ‘procedures’. Elaborated in time by society and coined into law by our wise predecessors. Who had duly noticed that societies which respect certain rights work way better than those who don’t.

After all, societies are nothing but meta-organisms. Which, like all other organisms, function for only as long as the components interact according to certain, and very specific, rules. The ‘better’ the rules, the better the organism works.

In this sense, ‘rights’ are the code we use when interacting among ourselves. The rules we use when cooperating towards the well being of the society.

You don’t care about the society? Only about ‘your rights’?

OK, but if the society, as a whole, doesn’t work properly, who’s going to respect ‘your rights’?
Who’s going to help you when a bully will try to snatch ‘your rights’ away from you?
And bullies trying to separate you from ‘your rights’ are the most certain occurrence whenever societies cease to function properly.
Whenever the individual members of a society no longer respect each-other enough to collectively uphold their rights. Their rights.

Our rights.

Does he have any ‘right to exert his authority, inside the limits that have been delineated for him’?

Somebody who has real authority enjoys a certain degree of autonomy, if not outright independence. ‘Authority’ is almost never clearly delineated, there is always a gray area where the discretion of the individual in charge is the one that calls the shots.
More over if we, the ‘subjects’, consider that he has ‘the right’ to exercise that authority then it’s us who are in deep trouble.
‘Exertion of authority’ ‘smacks’ of the situationĀ  when the ‘authority man’ had conquered his position against the wish of his subjects – like the emperors of the old. (Or like the communist dictators of not so long ago, only they pretended to exercise their authority for the benefit of the people while the emperors of the old were more straightforward and declared themselves ‘gods’)
Nowadays, at least in the democratic states, authority is, theoretically, used as a tool, towards the accomplishment of what the person in charge is supposed to achieve, not as a right enjoyed by that person.
In fact the notion of a right to exert authority inside some limits is akin to what has been described as ‘feudalism’, a social arrangement not that different from the Athenian democracy. The people were divided in two categories, just as in the previous situation – the ‘imperiums’ of the Antiquity, the difference being that in an imperium the top class was inhabited by a single individual – the emperor/dictator, while in feudalism/Athenian democracy the top class was inhabited by the free people, whose authority/freedom extended only as far as it started to encroach the authority of the equivalent individuals. I have to remark here thatĀ in many circumstances feudalism has very quickly degenerated back to imperium – for instance in absolutist France, ‘L’etat c’est moi’, or in tsarist Russia, while England successfully avoided that due to the spirit enshrined in Magna Charta.
The difference between feudalism/Athenian democracy and the modern democracy being that currently we can no longer speak of individual authority simply because nowadays no one has the “right” to own slaves – as the Athenian ‘democrats’ had, nor even enjoy extensive authority (bar the right of life and death) over other people – the serfs, as the feudal barons did not so long ago.
%d bloggers like this: