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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Rights of Englishmen 4: More Basic Rights From Not Just England

The following quotation comes from an Alt-Right blog post last month:
"It is no surprise that as a result of immigration and the necessary redefinition of what it is to be American, the country has become considerably less free despite the influx of these 'belief and choice' citizens. The Know-Nothings were, more or less, correct. Indeed, the present situation is a direct consequence of the inability of 19th century immigrants to fully grasp the Rights of Englishmen, because they were never English and they will never be what might be described as Americans version 1.0. More recent arrivals are observably even less able to do so."
-Vox Day, from his post: That Which Goes Unlinked
Welcome back.  

Last time we discussed the matter of The Rights of Englishmen, we traced how these rights of the founders of the United States originated with the Common Law of England, which synthesized during a time in which all of Europe was coming to a self awareness of basic human rights. Jurists and thinkers weaved jurisprudence with philosophy and morality, and as a result, you had men such as Bartolome de Las Casas, who combined Thomist and Augustinian theology to propose that natural rights belonged even to primitive peoples such as the American Indians.

"I soon repented and judged myself guilty of ignorance. 
I came to realize that black slavery was as unjust
as Indian slavery... 
and I was not sure that my ignorance
and good faith 
would secure me in the eyes of God."
-Bartolome de Las Casas
Yes, it is true that Las Casas was proposing that the natives had rights to liberty, property, self-defense, and their own ruler. After all, the civilized peoples of Europe enjoyed and wanted these same rights for themselves. 

Las Casas, known as the Father of Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Racism, argued against Spanish philosopher Juan Gines Sepulveda, who said the Indians were natural slaves. In retort, Las Casas contended that "All the world is human," and that they had a right to liberty. It is a fact that his 1542, work A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, is largely responsible for the abolition of native slavery for the first time in European colonial history.

In a 2001 essay titled Fundamental Human Rights in Medieval Law, historian R. H. Helmholz brings a few more examples to the table for this discussion.

Welfare Rights

The ius commune, that combination of Roman and canon law that governed legal practice, actually recognized a forerunner of modern welfare rights.  The canonists of the time stated that the poor had a right to some level of support from those graced with superfluous wealth.  In fact, a man in extreme need who took something from another was not guilty of a crime.  

"Gleaning" - by Arthur Hughes
When I read of this, it immediately called to mind Leviticus 23:22
And when you reap the corn of your land, you shall not cut it to the very ground: neither shall you gather the ears that remain; but you shall leave them for the poor and for the strangers. I am the Lord your God.
This is not to say that the state had an obligation to use public funds to support the poor.  Furthermore, wealth inequality is not enough to justify government interference upon a rich man's funds.  This only meant that the poor had a right to some of what the more wealthy had to offer.  

There was no governmental system to ensure the poor had relief, nor was anyone legally compelled to give alms to the poor.  To complicate matters, some canonists held that giving to the poor was a matter of choice.  And yet, in theory, the poor had a right to alms, even though it was never enforced.  

Voting Rights

Surprise.  People voted.  The secular elections of today traces back to the evolved voting system of the Church body.  Within this structure of the clergy existed the ius eligendi, which was a right to vote and have that vote counted.

Those who were to vote for a new bishop, abbot, or other clergyman also had a right to be notified of the election in a timely fashion.  The freedom of this exercise was on par with that of entering a marriage.

Of course, as it should be, the choice for electors was limited.  (And I must say, I agree with this stipulation.  In the United States, only people with property should vote, in my opinion.)  Furthermore, all electors had to meet and vote simultaneously in the same place.

This concept of having a right to vote and have your vote counted in those medieval elections was known as the ius eligendi.

Right to Religious Freedom

Johannes Gratian
Hold onto yer hats, Traditionalist Catholics!  Apparently this idea existed before Vatican II.

In Johannes Gratian's Decretum, no unwilling person is to be forced to convert or be baptized.  Souls are to be persuaded into the Faith, but not forced into it at sword point.

Written by approximately 1140, this work would have tangible implications for the Crusades that were ongoing during that period.

Anyway, forced baptism would have no beneficial spiritual effect on the person, and there would be no point to the ritual at all if it were forced.

A Right to Due Process

A person is not to have their property confiscated arbitrarily and to be condemned without due process of law.  This was an accepted norm in the Middle Ages.

Trials were not to be a fiasco.

When Adam had sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, rather than punishing him outright, God had first patiently "put Adam on trial."  From this story stems the idea that human judges were bound to do the same in the courts.  God had created right then and there a legal order, an ordo iuris.

In another biblical example from Genesis 18, we read that God decides to descend to Sodom and Gomorrah, in order to "see whether they have done according to the clamor that has come unto me."  According to the legal order, the ordo iuris, proceedings can often stem from a widely based rumor, or fama publica.

"The Sodomites" by James Tissot
Before annihilation, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were to undergo a trial, God's legal order based upon the widely based clamor that had reached Him.  They did not have this right because of their individual dignity, however.  They had this right because they were creatures made in the image of God, and such rights and proceedings vindicate and promote God's plan for the world.


These rights existed before the U.S. Constitution was written.  They existed before the English Bill of Rights in 1689.  They existed before the Reign of Terror in "Enlightenment" France.  They are medieval, and they are Catholic.

Helmholz's paper from the 2001 Fulton Lectures is a great read, and I recommend it for further reading to get a more in-depth analysis on this topic.  It was recommended to me by my friend Charles Coulombe, and following the footnotes actually led me to Brian Tierney's paper, Natural Rights: Before and After Columbus. Each work has allowed us to back away from the European map, enabling us to look at the bigger, overall picture--a vision in which canon and Roman law interacted with one another throughout the Middle Ages before English Whigs ever existed.

Although the idea of rights was not spoken of so literally until the late 1100s, the idea was still present in one form or another.  This is because the reality that humans have certain inalienable rights under God is a universal truth that dates back to Adam.  It is a holy truth that ought to be exported to every man and woman throughout creation, just as the gospels are meant to be.  But the same forces that repress the spread Christ are the same forces that repress the knowledge of these rights.  And in this sense, jurisprudence and faith go hand in hand.

Returning to the quotation at the beginning of this blog post, if 19th century immigrants to America failed to grasp The Rights of Englishmen, it was not because they were too genetically inferior to receive this knowledge.  That would be akin to stating some people are too genetically inferior to receive salvation.  Instead, it is arguable that the immigrants--those people who the Know-Nothings despised--were not educated about these rights.  And so now we can ask, who failed to teach them?

The Know-Nothing Party despised the Catholic Irish
immigrants of the mid-1800s.


  1. The Irish,Italian,and Polish immigrants of the 19th century are a far cry from today's Mexican,South American,Arab,Turk,East Indian,Paki,Bangladeshis,African,etc...Immigrants.
    These people do not and will not assimilate to a European way of life.
    They will be the types to wage a bizarre multi-sided civil war so that if they win,we the former Europeans would have to assimilate to their World.

    1. Realistically, you are correct. Which is why immigration should be halted immediately.

      That being said...are these Turks, Pakis, Africans capable of understanding the importance of life, liberty, and property? And if they are not able to understand those rights, then does that mean they cannot understand salvation? AND, if they don't care about salvation, does that mean we should stop trying to convert them?

      I have no answer for the immigration situation. Vox Day wants to start by restoring demographics to pre-1965 levels, which probably involves deporting immigrants who came here--even legally. What do you think of such a move?

    2. I'm being realistic and not rude.
      We need to go back to pre-1965 levels of immigration ASAP!!
      If not,we will become England in 10 years or less.
      It looks like England will be heading for a civil war in 10 years or less.
      Personally,I don't want that for our children and senior citizens.
      One of my 2 friends is an elderly black man who along with me practices the traditional catholic and traditions pre-1950.
      Granted he is one rare black man along with his 2 daughters.
      I think its time we take back our country and make it resemble 1910 demography.

    3. So, shall we export legal immigrants, then?

    4. Anchor babies need to go in my opinion.
      I think (I know it doesn't matter what I think) we need to adopt the Patrick Buchanan model and keep European/Australian/White South African immigrants and kick out the rest.
      Metaphorically lock the iron bar gates and encourage white English speaking natives to have 2 babies pr marriage.
      I think Africans,Turks,Arabs,East Asians,etc..are more than capable of evangelization.
      With that said,they need to be among their own people and society.We both agreed they will not assimilate to a European model and they have no interest in doing so.
      To their credit they stick beside their own people and keep their culture alive unlike beat down demoralized Whites.

  2. It feels like this is an either/or situation, where the Catholics must focus on either the work of converting the masses of immigrants or the work of preserving the civilization or nation. I do not know if it is this way in actuality, but I confess that loyalties seem divided between two important and honorable ends. On a side note, I wish Catholics would focus on converting the civilization in hopes of saving it.

    1. You make a very good point!

    2. Either/or? Nah. We are to do both. Preserve what we can (as the Benedictine monks did), but also work to convert people.

      Now, with this diversity/pluralism/immigration mess/challenge that America has created for itself--this problem is a different species of problem from the issue of evangelizing. America has created a serious logistical problem for itself by letting everyone in without concern or thought.

      But now that people are here, Catholics in this realm have a duty to convert these people. Somehow. Don't ask me how.

      "Anchor babies need to go in my opinion.
      I think (I know it doesn't matter what I think) we need to adopt the Patrick Buchanan model and keep European/Australian/White South African immigrants and kick out the rest."

      I'm unsure it can be done. For one thing, you have the blacks here who have more entitlement to America than many whites--who's family tree goes back to the 1600s. Almost the same could be said of many Chinese who live here.

      But also, the immigrants who are here, legally, came here with permission and the assumption that this was a legal and acceptable thing to do. To send legal immigrants back would be to break a promise to them, which I think is reprehensible.

      I think we're stuck with this hot mess, and we have to accept the situation. Send back illegal immigrants, yes. But in my opinion (for now), I'm guessing that it would be wise to reintroduce segregation, perhaps zone different areas of the country, and have areas of cosmopolitan, mixed populations for those of us who don't mind. But that's an off-the-cuff thought.

  3. Its too late and there's no going back.Plus,what I think is irrelevant.
    With that said if I were King every Muslim,Jew,and
    non-Christian would be deported starting today.
    I say non-Christian because this country wasn't falling apart and imploding with a high suicide rate pre-1965.
    Catholics and Protestants lived in peace with each other.