marți, 14 mai 2013

A Constitutional Principle That Should Be Clearly Stated: The Unalienable Right of the Majority

A Constitutional Principle That Should Be Clearly Stated:

The Unalienable Right of the Majority

In the Romanian Constitution, as with other European countries, there are stipulations regarding the rights of ethnic minorities. There are also laws with the sole purpose of stating the rights of ethnic minorities to promote, sustain, and develop their ethnic identity as a group.

Every country has an ethnic majority living amongst its minorities. However, it is the majority that lends its name to the country. One may easily notice that in the Romanian Constitution, as well as in its various laws, there is not one single sentence whose subject is the Romanian majority! No mention is ever made about the majority! We are strongly convinced that this is the case for most of the European countries!

So there is no reference to the ethnic majority in any of the Romanian laws, including the supreme law: the Constitution! The Romanian Majority is not a lawful subject in Romania!

I have no knowledge of the laws and Constitutions in the other European countries, but I am ready to bet the situation is similar, if not in all countries, at least in most of the European states.

Obviously this is an anomaly (or, to say the least, a negligence): it is not natural to mention rights and obligations for minorities without identifying which are the rights and obligations for people who belong to the ethnic, national majority!

It is most natural to talk about rights and obligations for all communities that make, as component parts, the whole defined as a country’s population or its nation. If we have laws and constitutional stipulations for ethnic minorities, we must have stipulations for the ethnic majority as well!  

When I remarked this anomaly to some prominent members of the Parliament, they did not seem to be aware of it. At first, they told me that the existence of the majority is implied and that there are stipulations concerning all citizens, including the majority! Or that, even though it is not used as the subject of a law, not mentioned expressis verbis, that is, the mere existence of this majority is implied from... the country’s name and from the language officially spoken nation-wide! And that the rights and duties of those people cannot be other than those of any citizen, in general… The majority itself is implied (again!) as a reference point in many other stipulations!

It may be so, but what is implied is not enough for the wording of a Constitution. Implied ideas cannot be the source of rights, or of laws.

Although it is said that minorities have individual rights, and not collective rights, the reality is that their status as entities is recognized as a component parts of society.

For the Romanian majority, there is no stipulation that regards its ethnicity as an entity, the potential subject or object of a law. Not even as a group of individuals, or of people, nor as a unitary whole, an entity with a certain distinctive and unmistakable ethnical identity! A whole with common vital and specific interests! A whole with rights and specific obligations!

And we shall begin by stating that the main right of the majority is, as it is for the minorities, the right to an identity, to its specificity and pride of being. And I shall further state that the main element defining an ethnic majority of any state or country is the status itself of being a majority population, an ethnic group capable of defining a state’s territory.

And furthermore, by quoting words from the Constitution, (1) the ethnic majority too has a right to “preserve, develop and express its status” as the majority in the nation!

Similarly, we might assume that minorities have the obligation to be aware of their minority status, and thus restrain any tendency in their midst to change the status quo, or to undermine the majority's role. Such a perspective would trigger off a state of emergency with serious consequences.

In a nutshell, it would boil down to the right of the majority and the obligation of the minority to respect and protect the majority’s status acquired as a result of hundreds of years of history. All that would amount to ensure the protection of the majority! This is the thesis I am going to elaborate. This is the truth that Europe ignored until now, with utterly unacceptable consequences.

In reciprocity the minorities have the obligation to stick to their own minority status! They will have to rein in the desire to attain to a dominant position and thereby usurp the majority! Such a turn of events would trigger off a state of emergency with untoward consequences.

 As explained by a well-known political analyst, Jules Monnerot, we might say that the protection of the majority is a non-written law. There are such laws, laws which work through tradition and connotation. This is how, the two principles of French sovereignty work, however, principles that are missing from the Gallic Constitution, according to the same author. They are such important and definitive stipulations that everyone knows them, understands all their connotations and accepts them as axiomatic. That is the situation of France. With us Romanians, however, it is those very stipulations that we have chosen to introduce in the first article of the Constitution: “Romania is a national state, sovereign and independent, unitary and indivisible”. So, surprisingly at first sight, these stipulations, considered by the Romanian people as the beginning of a country’s constitution, are completely missing from the French Constitution. As Monnerot has put it, the two principles would be “the national patrimony integrity (and by this, he means the territory) and the non-subordination of the national will to an exterior will”.

Why are these stipulations missing from the Constitution of France? For the blessed reason that France has not experienced any other historical circumstance than the one it has today. Almost no other country ever formulated aspirations to the French territory nor was its national sovereignty ever in jeopardy... Romania was cornered several times in its past, was cut and divided between the greater powers in its part of the world... Under the same circumstances, Romania’s sovereignty was seriously compromised! (Yet, it was never completely cancelled, which has made the Romanian people take pride in having had as a nation one of the longest uninterrupted history in the world,  from the 14th century up to the present time)

How could the national will be defined other than the majority’s will? And what happens to the national sovereignty, what is its purpose when the ethnic status of the majority is modified, when the majority ceases to be French? Isn’t there a new mindset, a not very exterior one, which, naturally, will subordinate the national will and will reformulate it? When the French minorities felt they formed the majority on the stadium, during a soccer match between France and a north-African country, the spectators, most of the them booed the Marseillaise!... What was left in those deplorable moments of the French national will and of the French sovereignty?

As Jules Monnerot put it, on that stadium was being expressed another will than the national one, but it was certainly not an exterior will! It was the will of a minority in a full process of its demographical upsurge, a minority fully aware of its perspective to alter its status. We are asking a simple question: what would be left of the national will when the French-born people lose their status as the majority demographic element?

And we will also raise an edifying question: is that the process by means of which a new ethical majority emerges in a state or a country? And so we may ask the self-explanatory question: is the process through which a new ethnic majority is developing in a state constitutional and ethical?

We can rephrase the same question in the following, more explicit, terms: Is the process which France is already undergoing, one in which the French are usurped or lose their majority status, a legal or a constitutional one?

And we would also like to point out that: given the current French Constitution and laws, this bleak scenario --  the people of French extraction losing their majority status, which has a perfectly Constitutional character and so would be perfectly legal, would it not, in terms of  the current French Constitution and laws, trespass against any existing law or Constitution article! Moreover, it has, thank God, a profoundly democratic character. Let alone human rights, which will not be infringed upon when, in a few decades, the Marseillaise will no longer reflect the French-born population’s Weltanschauung... Nor will they be reflected by its history!

These statements are a bit unclear. Lack of clarity which has been transmitted throughout the entire European legislation, lack of clarity which derives from the legislators’ hesitation and bashfulness in defining key terminology such as the key word: national. It has been a few decades of living in terror of being accused of racism, chauvinism, anti-Semitism, etc. A new trend is taking shape: the accusation of nationalism! It’s been too long; actually it’s been forever since we based much of the law on insertion, customary law, or undercurrents. Without realizing, there’s a huge tension accumulating behind these vague words, and especially “upstream” of the unsaid words, an explosive, overwhelming tension based on the demographic reality.

We strongly believe that, given the world we live in today and especially tomorrow, we can’t afford a romantic constitution, like most of the European ones, in which, what’s most important is left unwritten, left for good faith and ordinary citizens’ sense. It’s long since we have stopped living in a Europe in which honor and verbal commitment are beyond interests and other commandments! It wouldn’t harm checking where this loss comes from, this downgrading of our being, but I don’t think that we can remove the irresponsible propaganda for human rights from the list of causes which created this moral and institutional disaster, to the detriment of clearly assuming the rights and duties with which the human condition entitles you, the good luck of having been born a Frenchman or a Romanian!

It is due time these unwritten laws be identified,  in order to be carefully added to the constitutional texts, so as to make them doubtlessly and forever valid. Scripta manent!

I believe the identification of this category is correct and enlightened: unwritten provision. Unwritten laws... Provisions which are so inborn, so natural, that you no longer mention them in writing! Such law functioned forever, everywhere, related to the statute of the ethnic majority population,its being!  And Jules Monnerot could identify this unwritten, but strictly so-far-observed law, its constitutive aspect: In France, sovereignty belongs to the ethnic majority, and is enforced for its benefit, in its primordial purpose of preserving and growing this ethnic majority, which owns most of the history and wealth of France.

As Mihai Eminescu inspirationally wrote more than a century and a half ago,‘the matter of priority for the history and developing continuity of this country is that the Romanian element (same as with the French, the Italian, the German, the Dutch, etc., explanatory parenthesis) is to remain the determinant factor, the one to give the shape of this state, that its tongue, its honest occupations, common sense, its genius, in a word, let these remain for the future the development norm of the country, let this be the defining norm’ 

We can try a more generalizing paraphrase: The matter of priority for the history and developing continuity of this country is that the majority element be and remain the determining one, the one to provide the pattern of the life of the state, and be the country’s developing norm.

We believe that this constitutive principle stated one century and a half ago in a newspaper article, is extremely topical, painfully so for quite a few European countries... It is about time it becomes the letter of the law!

It is highly probable that none of the French-born people living in France today would have anything against this principle, against its being added verbatim in the French Constitution, in the French legislation. This principle still chimes in a reality: the one that the ethnic French people form still the majority in France. But if it is not added now, as soon as possible, in no more than two or three generations, this principle might enter in contradiction with the demographic reality itself, and, putting it then in the French Constitution might prove futile! In other words, if this principle is just, it must be added in the Constitution as soon as possible, in order to start producing the legislative effects which spring from it. Later, it will be too late...

The French situation is Europe’s as well. Western Europe’s for now...

 March 2013, Bucharest

ION COJA, former senator

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