Gaia Rights

For those of you wondering why I expend so many words banging on about rights, here’s a story which illustrates the point nicely.

You may have read about it yourselves in the last few days; I did, but dismissed it as a belated April Fools joke, until it started cropping up in stories all over the MSM. The first few paragraphs in this example say it all:

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration”.

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

As I’ve argued repeatedly on this site, all rights entail responsibilities. Clearly, the “rights” enshrined in law in Bolivia imply a corresponding responsibility on Bolivians; actually, when you read through the legislation, a whole host of responsibilities. It’s clear from the reference to mega-infrastructure and development projects that its framers are fitting up people in other countries with responsibilities, too; thus, the “rights” fail one of the central tests of legitimacy: the ability to meaningfully enforce a corresponding responsibility.

But it gets even more ridiculous. Just what is the Bolivian parliament suggesting is the concomitant responsibility of Mother Gaia towards its human denizens? The responsibility, say, not to do this? Or this? Or this? And is Gaia paying close attention to the Bolivian parliament, taking notes on its new responsibilities?

It’s nonsense. As an entity incapable of assuming responsibilities, or of making moral choices, Gaia, Spaceship Earth, Mother Nature, or whatever you choose to call it, cannot in any meaningful way be said to hold rights.

No folks, this is about politics, pure and simple: an ambit claim by the rent-seekers and main-chancers for a blank cheque. And that’s even before the motivations turn dark. I can’t improve on the summation of this insanity posted on JoNova’s site:

WWS points at just how useful this law is for tyrants

I think a few people understand what this is really about, from a legal point of view. It’s actually much more dangerous than most realize.

As Chris said, who can speak for the flora and fauna, since they can’t speak for themselves? Well that’s easy – the Government, of course. And who pays for litigation, since they can’t? Why those who are accused, of course, that’s only fair, right? And how much do they pay? Whatever their representative, the Government, says they should.

So this is, in real world terms, a plan to give the Government the power to compel, restrict and impoverish anyone, anywhere, in the name of beings who have no voice of their own. Violations will be crimes against not just humanity, but against Mother Earth herself.

It would have been much more honest to have simply declared Imperial Rule, with death as the punishment for any dissent. That’s what this is about – Absolute, Unchecked Power.

You see, this actually isn’t “crazy” at all – it’s much more Evil than that. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao are kicking themselves in the grave for not thinking of this.

Maybe I should have stuck Vladimir Ilyich in the Private Members’ Bar, too.

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8 Responses to Gaia Rights

  1. farmerbraun says:

    All very much deja vu for Kiwis, ozboy. being ‘world leaders’ in anything green, we promulgated the Resource Management Act so long ago that I can’t remember what it was like before the regime kicked in and the screws were progressively tightened. Still the advantage of having “greened” so early is that we are now at the backlash/ revision stage. Of course , any revisitation of the Act is dependent first on the re -election of the present government, and second, on the government having the guts to take on the watermelons. It’s anyone’s guess.

  2. farmerbraun says:

    The Bolivians should count their blessings; at least they don’t have taniwha getting upset about new roads etc.. Mind you, a taniwha is a pragmatic beast; a little koha here and there , you know, taniwha feels a lot better.

  3. Luton Ian says:

    Sounds just like a re run of Polly’s Year Zero.

    I bet the hippies won’t be paying for the food aid when it all ends in tears and well filled mass graves.

    this is OT, so feel free to chop it if you don’t like it. It’s US a Senator giving an outline to the Senate, of his investigations so far into the Federal agency charged with enforcing Fed level gun laws, and it’s operation which has walked an estimated 1,300 to 1,700 guns across the border to Mexico’s drug cartels (technically an act of war!).

    The official excuse for this is it was a “sting” operation intended to bring down a drugs cartel, that went bad. How that was supposed to work, no one seems to know, especially as Gil, their former attache in Mexico City, was blocked from all info on the operation.

    A more likely scenario amongst the bloggers is; an operation intended to bolster the meme that Mexico’s violence is due to the US’ “lax gun laws”, thus creating a crisis of sufficient dead Mexicans, that could be exploited back home.

  4. Luton Ian says:

    I’m too old, too married and too easily bored to be chatting up college students, but, that sounds like the sort of line which would’ve worked well on an 18 year old veggie.

  5. Kitler says:

    It’s just an excuse to pull an Obama and extort money from big mining companies and oil companies and absolving the Bolivian government of responsibility of actually doing something constructive for it’s people.

  6. Dr. Dave says:

    No wonder the UN is wetting themselves over this. Who needs AGW when you have mother nature to protect? Of course Bolivia should destroy all of its domestic pigs, cattle and chickens because these have been “genetically modified” by mankind over several thousands of years. We can’t kill mosquitoes or provide anti-malaria drugs as this would “disrupt” mother nature. In fact, we should no longer provide even essential antimicrobials. Bacteria and viruses are living things, too. Will Bolivian coca plants have a say in whether their leaves are harvested for cocaine?

    I suggest that all western nations stop the exportation of anything to Bolivia that might possibly upset an ecosystem or natural process. This, of course, includes, insecticides, herbicides, fertilizer, fuel, seed stock, food and medicine.

  7. izen says:

    The idea of ‘Rights for Gaia’ or ‘Friends of the Earth’ is a throwback to animistic magical nonsense. It is patently ridiculous to conceive of any sort of reciprocal friendship with a sand dune. Or confer ‘rights’ that only make sense when possessed by a sentient moral agent onto inanimate matter.

    When humans form civil societies of over a thousand with stratification and multiple forms of work, when family/tribe/clan links are no longer sufficient to stabilise society concepts of rights, duties and responsibilities arise to order individual behavior to optimise resource distribution within the collective.
    Whether it is a minor Macedonian city-state of the bronze age or Libya.

    Liberty and individual freedom are concepts that arise within societies as the conflict between the individual and the logistical requirements of large societies are resolved. The tolerance of increased diversity and individual progress can be an advantage in some societies.
    David Brin has some interesting insights into this.

    But such concepts only make sense if applied to intentional moral agents.
    Applied to the Earth, or some reified ecological concept is just magical thinking at its worst. It is on a par with people who think if they give their car a name and talk to it nicely it will reciprocate and be in a ‘good mood….’

    Okay, I know that trait lies within all of us. We have a tendency to anthropomophise everything and ascribe sentience and moral intentionality to animals and machines – see Disney! – but it is wise to remember that the ONLY things in this world which will develop an independent agency of the type we project are babies. No matter how well well we treat and talk to a mountain or flower it will never have the liberty to respond in kind.

    Amen – Oz

  8. Amanda says:

    Izen, I was pretty surprised to see David Attenborough doing it (anthropomorphizing) on his program, Life In Cold Blood. It really didn’t ring true. I’m sure he thought he was helping the lizardy things, though. Snakes of course are a hopeless cause, except for those that perversely enjoy them — I don’t mind them as long as they keep their distance, most especially if they have venom.

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