A new human right is born

On one hand, I’m rendered speechless by this news, my jaw was literally agape as I was reading it.

On the other hand, it is simply the consistent, logical application of liberal principles, and there’s no reason to be surprised at all.

Vacationing a human right, EU chief says
By Katherine Laidlaw, National Post April 19, 2010

The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers’ dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips.

Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, proposed a strategy that could cost European taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros a year, The Times of London reports.

“Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” Mr. Tajani told a group of ministers at The European Tourism Stakeholders Conference in Madrid on April 15. Mr. Tajani was appointed to his post by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The plan—just who gets to enjoy the travel package has yet to be determined—would see taxpayers footing some of the vacation bill for seniors, youths between the ages of 18 and 25, disabled people, and families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances. The disabled and elderly can also be accompanied by one other person. The EU and its taxpayers are slated to fund 30% of the cost of these tours, which could range from youth exploring abandoned factories and power plants in Manchester to retirees taking discount trips to Madrid, all in the name of cultural appreciation.

“The commission is literally considering paying people to go on holiday,” Mats Persson, of pro-reform think-tank Open Europe, told Britain’s News of the World. “In this economic climate, it’s astonishing that the EU wants to bribe people with cheap holidays.”

Mr. Tajani said the program will be piloted until 2013, and then fully launched.

Intended to instill a sense of cultural pride in Europeans, Mr. Tajani’s human-rights travel will also help bridge the continent’s north-south divide and pad resorts’ business in their off-season, the Times reports.

Northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe, and vice versa. Mr. Tajani wants to ensure people’s “right to be tourists” remains intact.

[end of article]

The piece de resistance here is that vacationing not just a nice thing that the state feels it ought to provide (e.g., “in our sophisticated social system, we include vacations among the things our citizens need”), but a human right. Meaning an absolutely indispensable, inviolable requirement for being human. When “human rights” came into vogue, in the 1970s, during the Carter presidency, the idea was that there are certain things that you just can’t do to a human being, e.g., torture, judicial murder, throwing people in prison without a trial. Human rights were the absolute minimal things that cannot be violated, that no reasonable person would disagree with. On the basis of these minimal things there could be agreement that would be the basis of shared international standards. That was the source of the moral force behind Amnesty International—that the rightness of human rights, and the wrongness of violating them, were absolutely self-evident. It was an unanswerable moral cause.

And now the international left has defined human rights as including the right to have a vacation and to travel. Declaring every good to be a human right is really just a shortcut to mandatory global socialism of all things and values. At the same time, if the “human right” to a vacation belongs to the same class of things as the “human right” not to be tortured, doesn’t that show that the left really doesn’t take very seriously the human right not to be tortured? They are rendering human rights all encompassing and meaningless at the same time, so that they, the left elite, will be empowered to classify as a human right whatever they want to classify. It becomes entirely arbitrary. It’s a formula for a whimsical global tyranny. For example, when torture by a Muslim or leftist regime that the left favors is going on, the left will say that that’s not a violation of human rights. But when some poor nonwhite person in a Western country lacks the money for a Mediterranean cruise, that will be a violation of his human rights.

Key to the enterprise is the punitive power against human rights violators. If a society does not subsidize a poor person to take a vacation, it is violating his human rights. And what does the world community do to a government that is a human rights violator? Well, it arrests the responsible government officials and tries them at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

I am not predicting that such an absurdity will literally happen. I am saying that this is the direction of the left-liberal logic.

As I’ve said many times, leftism is the political form of evil. Both the unleashed fact of that evil, and our unhappy knowledge of it, will be increasing by leaps and bounds in the coming years. History is not over, Mr. Fukuyama.

- end of initial entry -

April 21

Gintas writes:

Soon there will be West-subsidized travel packages to South Africa, to go on a special “Kill a Boer for Human rights” holiday.

John Dempsey writes:

This story sounds extremely odd when you consider that it comes from a Berlusconi appointee. But, hey, stranger things have happened.

Alex K. writes:

I wonder how long before sex is considered a human right in this way. Meaning that, like vacations, it must actually be subsidized by the government.

Hannon writes:

Thank you for your excellent deconstruction of this whimsical new item in the EU product line.

At first I thought it an absurd, terrible idea, although ” … these tours, which could [include] youth exploring abandoned factories and power plants in Manchester,” might be a good thing were they organized by the British, for the British. In fact I would be surprised if this is not happening now. It also points up the idea that a “vacation” is what we make of it and really has no definition for this nefarious purpose. Some people have not ventured across town in their whole lives, but the European taxpayer is going to send him to the Adriatic?

This artificial and international propping up of an industry will also be harmful economically. The State will end up running literally everything. I suppose that is the general idea.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Send

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