On the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Thomas L. Wayburn

I am puzzled by the copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sent to me by a friend.  I don't know whether he sent it to me because he approves of it or because he wants to share a joke with me at the expense of a bunch of powerful and influential people who imagine that they can write down something that deserves to be called "universal".  As I implied, I resent them for supposing that a declaration of human rights could begin to be considered universal without the approval of every living human being on the planet – at least.  In particular, I must insist on having direct input on any proclamation that "every individual ... shall strive by teaching and education to promote".  On the contrary, I would fight against such a universal declaration of human rights as hard as I could – realizing that the declaration itself is at least as harmful an abuse of human rights as one can imagine in a document, i.e., without physical action.

In the preamble the document mentions fundamental freedoms without mentioning what they are or how they are derived.  Is the freedom to amass wealth in an unrestrained way fundamental?  Is the freedom to have as many children as one pleases fundamental?  Is the freedom to take the drugs of one's choice fundamental?  I have developed the concept of fundamental freedom extensively in my writing - basing it on three moral axioms, which, in turn, are based on reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility, which are, in turn, developed either a priori or empirically.  Although the questions are not fundamental in my system of thought, I'll give the answers I arrive at anyway.  They are no, no, and yes.  I could criticize the preamble at length, but, instead let me simply list some objections to the articles.  So much for "universal".

Article 1:  I don't believe conscience is at all fundamental, necessary, or useful.

Article 2: Are fundamentalist religions with dreams of absolutist world conquest protected?  The document recognizes and, perforce, legitimizes the domination of one nation by another.

Article 7: No objection here, but every nation is in constant violation as is the U.N. itself.  Will the U.N. hear my case?

Article 12: Are scoundrels protected from attacks upon their honour and reputations?  How is that consistent with free speech?

Article 14: Does everyone have the right to enjoy asylum from persecution for absolutist fundamentalist religious views, for exploiting labor, for attempting to dominate a country politically, for having large families despite severe overpopulation?  Again the purposes and principles of the U.N. are accorded a privileged place they do not deserve.  This is totalitarian.

Article 15: Finally we get a genuine absurdity - the right to change one's nationality.  "And, if that nationality doesn't work out, you just change it right back."

Article 16: Neglects to mention limitations on childbirth.  This is a gross violation of the freedom of others, especially the freedom of the unborn who are bound to suffer from overpopulation - or the redistribution of population according to culture, religion, political views, etc.  This article assigns a questionable importance to the family.  This is debatable - not universal.

Article 17: Protection of private property must place limits on the accumulation of private property.  In particular, it may not extend to an unfair share of the earth's surface, the coastlines of the continents, the riversides, the lake shores, etc.  Clearly equality and justice are out of the question unless property is shared roughly equally at least.  Every workman must own his share of the means of production.  The ownership of the means of production by a nonworker is intolerable.  Management should not be counted as work.  (I have expounded on what I call "the myth of management".  What I say, in a nutshell, is that either management is a conspiracy against the worker or it is an empty discipline designed to provide a livelihood for members of a certain class who are unwilling or unable to produce anything themselves.)

Article 18: Says nothing about freedom from religion.  Typically totalitarians will allow one to have any religion one pleases as long as one has a religion.  Atheism is not accorded equal rights – normally.  Nor are private religions such as mine.

Article 19: Doesn't say how people are supposed to be able to express heterodox opinions or ideas.  Can I address the U.N. for example or express these objections in a U.N. publication?  In reality, dissent is merely impossible (rather than forbidden).

Article 21: Do we have the equal rights to take part in our governments equally?  I don't recognize voting as the ultimate (universal) democratic institution.  Random selection for finite terms is much more fair and just.  This would prevent the rise of "natural leaders", who tend to dominate many people who do not wish to be dominated.

Article 23: Assigns undue and improper significance to work, which probably means employment.  I don't recognize the right of one person to employ another.  Further, the only just remuneration would be equal remuneration.  Free choice of employment would mean freedom to do as one pleases and would require the abandonment of the institution of money itself according to my reasoning.

Article 25: The word "adequate" is undefined.  I do not agree that unrestricted motherhood should be protected.  Everyone clearly has a right to replace himself or herself, but that's about it.

Article 26: How can the boundary of free education be set arbitrarily at the end of the elementary stage in a universal declaration?  I had not finished studying the elements when I finished my PhD.  Who decides what is "elementary"?  Why should entrance to higher education be based on "merit"?  Who determines merit?  Is not merit an accident of birth?  This article says that education shall be both free and in accordance with U.N. doctrine, which has been shown in these remarks to be arbitrary.  This is a contradiction.

Article 28: What if we don't want a social and international order, especially one that is congruent with the primitive thinking of the writers of this document?

Articles 29: Just what are these "duties" and upon what are they based?  What are the "just requirements of morality"?  Whose morality?  What is meant by "public order"?  What is a "democratic society"?  Again the purposes and principles of the U.N. are accorded universal supremacy.  This is absolutist and totalitarian.

Article 30: Again the document is accorded undeserved absolute and total ascendancy.

Now, you might think I am opinionated or that I have a lot of ideas or both.  I don't think of them as opinions but rather as observations or deductions.  I believe you trivialize unfairly my observations or deductions if you think of them as opinions.  Remember, that it is not I who is going around declaring universal this or that.  Where do they get the authority to do that?  Clearly not from me.  Obviously I think this document is wrong, harmful, and absurd despite the fact that the world would be a better place if some of the articles were observed, but they are not observed and, in some cases, they should not be.  All such attempts to establish absolute principles are doomed at the outset, nevertheless I shall continue to attempt to establish relatively better principles.  Even the possibility that relatively better principles might turn out to be absolute cannot be ruled out absolutely, but as soon as absolute claims were made for them they would be asked to do more than can possibly be done and they would invalidate themselves.

Houston, Texas

December 17, 1990

Corrected November 13, 1995


On Sunday, November 30, 1997, Kurt Schork of Reuters News Service reminded us once more that the United Nations, in a violation of human rights of Orwellian proportions, is taking sides in a dispute as to which moral or religious values are preferable and which are to be ruthlessly suppressed.

Opium, cocaine, marijuana, peyote, and their close relatives have played an important part in mankind's spiritual life for thousands of years.  Every conscious reasoning person of goodwill knows that the reactionary tyrants into whose hands the world has fallen wish to prohibit precisely those drugs that have the longest and most noble traditions of spiritual beneficence.

The United Nations, a tyranny that covers the entire earth, has adopted the primitive and barbaric taboo morality espoused by the most ignorant and superstitious specimens of pre-human atavism our species can produce.

Clearly, no one would object to the unsupported conclusion that these drugs are inherently harmful and have no proper and beneficial uses if every open question concerning these drugs had been settled by the best thinking of which the human race is capable.  The enemies of humanity have clearly identified themselves by imposing an intolerant and irrational conclusion upon an open question in a manner that is offensive to all reasoning minds.  This is an assault upon reasoning itself.  (Some people call it spitting in the face of God – the author of reason!)

The battle against those drugs for which humanity has shown the greatest preference is waged by people who imagine that they may impose their will by blind force without the benefit of anything resembling thought.  They don't need a valid argument; they have guns.

Houston, Texas

December 1, 1997