Freedom is a Western concept. Freedom of expression, association, economic choice, and freedom from arbitrary rule and violence is essential. Part of the greatness of civilization is the containment of uncivilized behavior and instincts. Culture, guilt, shame, quality, expectations all these and more play decisive roles in shaping behavior. Natural law, which few discuss and fewer know about, is a key basis for Western civilization. Yet the media; the elite; the educational experts [an ironic oxymoron there]; and even the church and most parents have no idea what this important concept means. Hence the rise of everything from gay sex in public, to Britney Spears kissing Madonna on stage, to the decline of real Conservatism’ in public affairs. Ignoring natural law and high standards leads to social degeneration.
What is natural law and why should anyone care? Natural law is the application of reality and common sense to our world. In short the reality of our existence gives us a framework or set of rules to live by. Contravening or breaking that reality or its rules will cause problems. Reality is not something that social engineers; toothy politicians; rich entertainers; or cultish freaks can bend to their will, any more than a human can reverse the incoming oceanic tides. Natural law is not an abstract metaphysical discussion it is rooted in the here and now.
Why should you care? You should care if you believe in civilization; higher culture; intelligence and strong families. You should care if you are tired of a political system that glorifies degenerate and obscene behavior. You should care if you are worried about the ill-effects of runaway feminism; gay rights; Islamic intolerance; broken families; and rising crime rates all funded by tax dollars. You should care if you recognize that these issues and many others are manifestations of systemic’ failure. To put it more simply you should care if the disturbing social trends we see around us, mean that natural law premised upon common sense is in decline.
Natural law is not a concept of irrationality. It is made up of three key ideas that have helped Western civilization develop. First there are rational laws to explain the makeup of the universe. Second morality and ethics should reflect the make up of these laws. Third the creation and maintenance of society should reflect natural and moral law.
The idea that the universe operated in a rational lawful’ fashion comes from the Greeks. The ancient Greek’s believed that the universe was governed by eternal and unchangeable laws. Since this universe was natural and rational society should reflect these natural laws. Since humans are endowed with reason they could discover and obey these natural laws that managed reality. For the Greeks, since humans could use logic in their lives they could follow nature’. The most admired and detailed philosophers in the ancient Greek world of the above ideas were the Stoics’, whose approach to living and developing society gave rise to Stoicism’ which greatly influenced Roman and later Western European thought.
The Christian philosophers of the middle ages took the Stoic’ idea of natural law and built on it. The greatest of these thinkers was the 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas. For Aquinas natural law is part of the eternal law of God [the reason of divine wisdom’]. Humans can understand God’s natural law through reason to create a society of positive laws’. Human [or positive law], is the application of natural law to particular social circumstances. It sounds complicated but the framework is pretty simple to understand. Like the Stoics, Aquinas believed that a positive law which violates a natural law is not true law but a human lie that would create societal problems.
Aquinas’ ideas were enhanced by thinkers during the Western Enlightenment. The 17th-century Dutch legal theorist Grotius believed that humans by nature are not only rational and sane, but social. He felt that humans would only develop rules that were intelligent and natural’, not ones that were counterproductive and unnatural. By so doing humans can regulate interaction and live in relative harmony with one another. From this argument, Grotius developed the first comprehensive theory of international law.
From Grotius’ ideas it was but a short step to the idea of a natural right’. The 17th century political scientist John Locke argued that human beings in the state of nature are free but usually quite unequal, leading to a tyranny by the few over the many. When a human enters society he should only surrender those rights which are necessary for his own security and to help provide harmony for the common good [Grotius’ idea]. According to Locke a man’s natural rights should never be given up and these would include; private property rights; the right to safety from terror or force; and the right of self-determination. Locke’s ideas on natural rights theory provided a philosophical basis for both the American and French revolutions. Thomas Jefferson used the natural law theory to justify his trinity of inalienable rights’ [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], which were stated in the United States Declaration of Independence.
With the rise of post-modern’ theory and moral relativity the certitude of Locke, Grotius, Aquinas, St. Augustine, the Stoics, Seneca and others has fallen into disrepute. How is this relevant in our world? The American Declaration of Independence is correct life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be the natural right of any man or woman. Yet this does not mean that the US founding fathers were advocating hedonism. Quite the contrary.
Natural rights to property, person, and self-determination mean: a limitation on government and what they can steal; security and social peace; strong families to nurture culture; a reduction in social pathology, deviancy, crime and anti-social behavior; and lastly a respect for culture mores and institutions that generate the above and lead to high culture and cultural flowering.
None of those ideals are a part of the social-political discussion today in any real sense. Gays and feminists unrelentingly attack the family. Private property theft now approaches 50% of earned income. Living standards have doubled in the past 50 years but so has crime. Brutally pathetic low cultures have formed entrapping whites, blacks, other minorities and the insecure, uncaring or lazy. Anti-social behavior from clothing to Islamic intolerance should now not only be tolerated but protected. All of these destroy natural rights, and all are funded and supported in part by governments; politicians and their associated power bases of lobby and money support.
History never exactly repeats itself, but perhaps brilliant minds before our age have a thing or two to teach us about what makes a society rich in the spiritual, intellectual and material worlds we inhabit. Repeating past mistakes and ignoring natural law indicates a certain type of collective social insanity has achieved power. It is just remarkably sad how Jefferson’s trinity, and the moral precepts of men like Aquinas, Locke and Grotius are submerged in the immoral post modern relativity which passes for intelligent political discourse.