Monday, May 20

On Europe and the Sinister Rights of Man (unfortunately, pun intended)

Burke! thou shouldst be living at this hour. England hath need of thee.

Decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and by British judges applying The European Convention on Human Rights, have already struck down laws and practices that have roots deep in English soil. Now comes word from Brussels that under the leadership of French president, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the European Commission intends to push for the power to execute a common foreign and domestic policy, including criminal justice powers, over the objection of member states. This “streamlined” authority would abolish the current national veto held by each sovereign nation within Europe and Britain. That a foreign directory, only incidentally and imperfectly answerable to British citizens, is plotting to assume ultimate power over them should provoke riots in the streets of London.

Two hundred years ago, colonial British citizens, well-versed in the English legal and political works of Blackstone and Burke, declared their independence from the tyrannical reign of George III in order to preserve those liberties which have been the chartered rights of all Englishmen since 1689. Their declaration of independence set forth a list of essential powers of free states, including the fundamental right to exercise authority over their people and the laws by which they are governed: “Free and Independent States . . . have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.” How many of these powers does the United Kingdom retain today, subject as it is to the whims of the EU(SSR) commissars and the nebulous strictures of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 1790, Edmund Burke’s rhetoric helped persuade the English people to adhere to the sound principles of a mixed government and to value the stability of their traditions over the lofty but ultimately evanescent ideals of the bloody-minded French revolutionaries. Today, two centuries on, Burke’s beloved nation of free men is once again in danger of falling under the spell of those abstract “rights of man” he so convincingly denounced. Who today will stand against the coffee house philosophes? Who today speaks for the traditions that are the patrimony of all British citizens and against the chimera of the European Convention on Human Rights? The convention’s abstract guarantees should strike fear into all free British citizens because their noble sentiments mask an empty promise that can only be fulfilled by expanding the powers of the supranational European State ever further into their lives as it substitutes its judgments for those of national legislatures.

Please pardon a North American observer for failing to understand this unprecedented abdication of the rights of an independent state. The citizens of your great nation are free to surrender the sovereign powers of their government to mostly unaccountable foreign bureaucrats if that is their will. But I wonder how many of them have considered fully the implications of doing so and how many will only after it is too late?