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The Rights of the Earth

According to a report from Steven Edwards of Postmedia News, Bolivia recently passed a law extending “human rights” to “bugs, trees, and all other natural things” within the country.  It is now pushing a United Nations treaty to do the same thing, recognizing the Earth as “a living entity that humans have sought to dominate and exploit, to the point that the well-being and existence of many beings is now threatened.”

Bolivia has gone as far as creating a “Ministry of Mother Earth” to “hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activists and other groups, including the state.”  I’m sure the U.N. version would be run with its customary efficiency and fairness.

The true nature of this “rights of the Earth” movement is revealed in the “ten commandments to save the planet” pushed on the United Nations by Bolivian president Evo Morales.  The first commandment says, “If we want to save the planet earth to save life and humanity, we are obliged to end the capitalist system.  The grave effects of climate change, of the energy, food and financial crises, are not a product of human beings in general, but rather of the capitalist system at it is, inhuman, with its idea of unlimited industrial development.”  The rest are superfluous.

Claiming the right to speak for a voiceless, omnipresent “constituency” is a reliable path to tyrannical power.  Notice how the Bolivian Ministry of Mother Earth stands ready to “hear nature’s complaints” as voiced by the State.  In other words, the State will ask itself for more power to fulfill a righteous agenda that no moral person can argue against.  How convenient.

Besides the airheaded environmentalist principles on display in the “rights of the Earth” concept, this is an example of the continuing degradation of the concept of “rights” by the Left.  To them, “rights” are produced by the all-powerful, all-wise State.  They are a perfect reflection of the ruling elite’s moral standards.  Everything they believe is virtuous becomes a “right,” and most of these rights require the coercive power of the State to exist.  Granting human rights to the Earth will involve telling a vast number of humans what to do.

A true “right” must be universal, and reciprocal.  We all have the right to free speech – it is not taken from some, and given to others, by the great and compassionate masters of the State.  We must all recognize that right equally, and extend it to one another.  Most of the Left’s crusades against free speech involve removing the concept of reciprocity: only they have the right to speak freely, and others are obliged to listen to them. 

Animals, plants, and the planet’s crust cannot reciprocate “rights” granted to them by humans.  The Bolivian proposal would grant the Earth a right to “life, water, and clean air.”  The Earth does not recognize your right to any of those things.  It will kill you in a heartbeat, turning a deaf ear to your pleas for mercy.  On a whim, it can take water away from Africa, or dump far too much of it on Japan.  Good luck with asking a hungry shark to respect your “human rights.” 

Both the State, and its citizens, are bound to respect the rights of individuals in a lawful republic.  This is one of the supreme achievements of human law and philosophy, the closest we have ever come to the music of angels.  It is not an idea that should be soiled by greedy socialists looking for another club to beat free people into submission.  If the United Nations wastes a moment of its time on this garbage, it has proved itself to be a frivolous expense our nation cannot afford, and a denial of our values we should no longer subsidize.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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