It seems to me that reverting to the rights of kings is not progress. Not matter what you call “king” or “rights” the sentence means the same thing. So if we substitute “king” for “proletariat” or “society” the intrinsic attribute are the same. The terms represent one person (in actuality) they allege a group but in fact only mean the person who represents the group. The Term “rights” can be replaced with “the needs of society” sustainability” or whatever catchphrase you want. The intrinsic attributes of the verb are the same. That the individual has no real rights not given him by his government.
Man in English is Man. Man in French is Homme. The two words sound different but mean the same thing. To say, that Man with red hair, is no different than to say, Set Homme avec cheveux rouge, though it may sound different. But a non francophone could be convinced it means anything. He knows no better.
The rights of kings goes back before biblical times. The Pharaoh rested his orders to have pyramids built for him on the rights of kings. The philosophy is paramount to a King’s right to war with his neighbors. Kill anyone under his reign at his whim. Seize anything he so chooses from anyone under his authority and enact any law the sovereign sees fit.
It can be argued that one of the first shots over the bow of the rights of kings, (since Roman times), came with Machiavelli’s Discourses On Livy. In which even the apologizer for the Borgas claims the best form of government is a stable republic. Harkening back to the Republican days of Rome. As another political philosopher once said, When Rome was one way [a republic] she suffered a continual line of victories and expansion. When she went the other way she suffered nothing but a long series of defeats and contraction. The name of king had been replaced with the title “Caesar,” and the Roman people pretended he wasn’t a king, like Tarquinius Superbus. Despite the fact that almost every “Caesar” was the equal of Tarquinius Superbus in villainy.
Even Saint Thomas Aquinas cleverly chastised kings when he said, “Now, as has been shown above, Monarchy, is the best government. If, Therefore, “it is the contrary of the best that is the worst,” it follows that tyranny is the worst kind of government.”
The Renaissance furtively questioned the rights of kings. But if the Renaissance questioned the Reformation put the rights of kings on trial. Luther wrote “The Law is not given for the Righteous but the unrighteous.” He argued that the righteous would act morally because it is in their nature. But the unrighteous wouldn’t even follow the law. So law is an expedient to try to hold some of the unrighteous to some level of moral behavior. Another Luther quote is, “If a Prince is not wiser than his jurists, and does not know more than is in the Law books, He will surely rule according to the saying in proverbs xxviii “A Prince that wanteth understanding will oppress many with injustice.”.” In doing so, actually questioning if God put the King on the throne, to rule as he wished.
The philosophical foundation to overturning the rights of kings really got moving under the philosophy of the right of resistance. Which was met with “Sovereignty and the Divine Right.” In which the specter of chaos or worse Ares, as the arbiter of human machinations if the King’s sovereignty was threatened, was raised. Hobbes and Spinoza worked the argument into the purely secular. This philosophy combined with the right of resistance set up the philosophical underpinnings of Constitutionalism.
The Enlightenment was all about overturning the “rights of Kings,” in all it’s manifestations. Constitutionalism was to hold government to some standard. One that all people under it’s sovereignty can know and understand. And that, if government acted extra constitutionally, the people would have the right to rise up and restore constitutional government.
To say, Stalin, Mao, Hitler and Fidel weren’t Kings (Tyrants, dictators, representatives of the people, big brothers, even Demigods) is to deny reality, regardless of the word used to describe them.
But today, we have people who call themselves “Progressive,” and resolutely believe they are progressive. They hold at the center of their political Philosophy that the interests of society (the king) trump the interests of the individual. That Societal interests lie in more benign and enlightened government control (King‘s Sovereignty). That the problems we suffer in society can be solved by government’s sustained and focused intervention. That, lack of sufficient revenues, is the biggest problems government has. Some believe that sustainability should be our paramount goal… in everything. That if we have to break some eggs to achieve sustainability… oh well. They believe that the rights of society supersedes the rights of the individual.
So I ask you… How does the philosophy of the Progressive movement differ substantially, except in rhetoric, from the rights of Kings?