When what is allowed is also mandatory

An important book has just appeared in our bookstores, which explains, through modal logic, many very worrying things. (Andrei Vieru, Praise of borders, Humanitas, 2021). For example, it clarifies that a totalitarian situation is when what is allowed (is not forbidden) is also mandatory, and a democratic one is when what is not forbidden (is allowed) is optional.

Even now, however, a situation related to the logic of public health determines decisions such as “what is normally optional must be made exceptionally mandatory.”

This is a hierarchy that is neither allowed nor prohibited in the field of rights. It is not provided for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1789. It, the hierarchy, would have appeared if, in 1795, the Universal Declaration of Human Obligations had been adopted, which failed.

We found consensus on rights, but we failed to reach consensus when it came to formalizing obligations. In this way, the political-moral era of modernity remained without borders. If we had descriptions of places where rights border on obligations, these boundaries would have been clearly marked.

The lack of formalization of these customs between neighboring opposites has meant that in the last two centuries freedom (which is defined only at the border) has often been licensed (ie abuse), and the universality of rights has become problematic.

Now, the real reality brings into play a situation of conflicting neighborhood between rights and obligations: the pandemic. Our imagination had foreseen that such an exceptional situation could be the civil war, for the avoidance of which mechanisms for transition to a state of emergency with diminished rights were devised.

Today, our interpretations come into conflict as soon as we want to justify the transition to a state of emergency due to the pandemic. The economic rights will not give in to these justifications. Social rights will revolt. The solution? We go into a state of emergency without declaring it and we reach justice, which restores (or does not restore) the balances that we have defined as freedom.

The outcome? Increasing the degree of disorder, the lability of the boundaries between totalitarian and democratic.

The objective arbitrators of states of conflict can no longer be the constitutional courts, which judge under the constraints given by human rights as they were formalized in the constitutional texts.

We are in a constituent state, that is, the kind of vacuum of the law that requires a new constitutionalization of balances. In the opinion of many, we should go back to 1795 and complete the Universal Declaration of Human Obligations.

In fact, what was the primary “Don’t kill”? An obligation or a right? Today it is clear that this border works as a right. You are even guaranteed the right not to carry a weapon in the military if your religious beliefs so require. Each right carries in its backpack an obligation. You have the right to life, that is, you also have the obligation not to endanger life.


Source: Cotidianul RO by www.cotidianul.ro.

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