Felix ElsnerFelix Elsner

Grundgesetz – Article 2: Personal Freedoms

Article 2 concerns personal freedoms.

It stipulates:

  1. Jeder hat das Recht auf die freie Entfaltung seiner Persönlichkeit, soweit er nicht die Rechte anderer verletzt und nicht gegen die verfassungsmäßige Ordnung oder das Sittengesetz verstößt.
  2. Jeder hat das Recht auf Leben und körperliche Unversehrtheit. Die Freiheit der Person ist unverletzlich. In diese Rechte darf nur auf Grund eines Gesetzes eingegriffen werden.

Let us dissect and translate this article by paragraph.

Paragraph 1 states:

Everyone has the right to free development of his personality, insofar as he does not violate the rights of others and as long as he is not in violation of the constitutional order or decency laws.

The state grants you the freedom to become whoever you want to be. That decency laws have a place in a law written in those times should surprise no one; it seems archaic still.

Paragraph 2 states:

Everyone has the right to life and freedom from bodily harm. The freedom of the person is inviolable. Only on the grounds of a law may there be interference with these rights

From the right to freedom from bodily harm arises the need for a protection force, a police if you will. We are still in first-principles territory. Applying these rights and ensuring they not be violated will be the task of the following articles

In conclusion, no one may be compelled to give up these rights, because they are by definition inviolable. A good litmus test for detecting true evil is propagation of the notion that human dignity has to be earned, that upkeep of basic rights should have to be a continuous process.

Once a society starts talking about privilege and handouts, they’re either on the brink of an all-out, total war, or just deeply infatuated with the notion that people they distrust are not to be considered people.

That is why this law is such a great one. It disabuses us from even entertaining such dehumanizing thoughts. Note the use of right in lieu of privilege.

This article is part 3 of the “Grundgesetz” series.