This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The truth about individual rights

Individual rights are a figment of the humanist imagination. Since today everyone is a humanist—covert or overt—these supposed rights are taken for granted as if their reality could not be more obvious, despite the fact that there is never any real consensus on what they are, how many there are, and how they are to be discerned. One would assume that these were immortal and timeless truths, and it would come as a surprise to find out that they are actually quite young, being an invention of the Enlightenment. Before the Enlightenment, before the American Founders, there were not ‘rights’—there was only ‘right’, and this notion of ‘right’ was fitted into a larger framework of justice. ‘Right’ is, in this sense, nothing other than the ‘object of justice’. To put it as simply as possible, ‘right’ is the thing due to another in a relationship of justice.

Move from this to the notion of ‘rights, and more specifically, ‘individual rights’. In this phrase we can already see that the problem is one of abstraction from social context followed by an indefinite multiplication.

We said, abstraction from social context. The modifier ‘individual’ has the effect of exorcising ‘right’ from its relational framework and atomizing it. If a ‘right’ is a thing due to another in justice, then ‘rights’ only exist in the context of relationships. Thus, rights are communal, not individual. No one walks around “possessing” rights as a collection of powers he gets to exercise at his will. Rights are not something that I get to exercise according to my tastes and whenever I feel like it and in whatever way I choose. Justice is the overarching framework that brings a “right” into existence, and there is always a context. When a man gives a baker some money, the bread is the right of the buyer, since it is owed him in justice. But it is up to the baker to fulfill it and only within that context and in that instance. To abstract a set of “rights” out of the framework of justice ends by denying the primacy of justice as the measure of how rights should operate, and winds up making justice subordinate to abstract rights. And this is precisely the situation we have today. Justice service rights and operates. And that is the definition of liberalism: the political system that absolutizes rights and sees its role, and therefore the role of the entire justice system, not as seekers of goodness and justice, but as protectors of abstract (and individual) rights.

We also mentioned indefinite multiplication, and this follows naturally from their abstraction. Social context and subordination to justice were the limiting factors of right, and without these limiting factors the meaning of the right because subjective, highly theoretical, and is susceptible to endless variations and interpretations. Hence the problem of new ‘rights’ constantly being claimed, infringed, or denied, whatever the case may be.

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