Skip to comments.WHAT IS A RIGHT?
Posted on 08/31/2003 9:27:09 AM PDT by NMC EXP
A right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others. The concept of a right carries with it an implicit, unstated footnote: you may exercise your rights as long as you do not violate the same rights of anotherwithin this context, rights are an absolute.
A right is universalmeaning: it applies to all men, not just to a few. There is no such thing as a "right" for one man, or a group of men, that is not possessed by all. This means there are no special "rights" unique to women or men, blacks or white, the elderly or the young, homosexuals or heterosexuals, the rich or the poor, doctors or patients or any other group.
A right must be exercised through your own initiative and action. It is not a claim on others. A right is not actualized and implemented by the actions of others. This means you do not have the right to the time in another persons life. You do not have a right to other peoples money. You do not have the right to another persons property. If you wish to acquire some money from another person, you must earn itthen you have a right to it. If you wish to gain some benefit from the time of another persons life, you must gain it through the voluntary cooperation of that individualnot through coercion. If you wish to possess some item of property of another individual, you must buy it on terms acceptable to the ownernot gain it through theft.
Alone in a wilderness, the concept of a right would never occur to you, even though in such isolation you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In this solitude, you would be free to take the actions needed to sustain your life: hunt for food, grow crops, build a shelter and so on. If a hundred new settlers suddenly arrive in your area and establish a community, you do not gain any additional rights by living in such a society nor do you lose any; you simply retain the same rights you possessed when you were alone.
A right defines what you may do without the permission of those other men and it erects a moral and legal barrier across which they may not cross. It is your protection against those who attempt to forcibly take some of your lifes time, your money or property.
Animals do not have rights. Rights only apply to beings capable of thought, capable of defining rights and creating an organized meansgovernmentof protecting such rights. Thus, a fly or mosquito does not possess rights of any kind, including the right to life. You may swat a fly or mosquito, killing them both. You do not have the right to do the same to another human being, except in self-defense. You may own and raise cows, keep them in captivity and milk them for all they are worth. You do not have the right to do the same to other men, although that is what statists effectively do to you.
There is only one, fundamental right, the right to lifewhich is: the sovereignty to follow your own judgment, without anyones permission, about the actions in your life. All other rights are applications of this right to specific contexts, such as property and freedom of speech.
The right to property is the right to take the action needed to create and/or earn the material means needed for living. Once you have earned it, then that particular property is yourswhich means: you have the right to control the use and disposal of that property. It may not be taken from you or used by others without your permission.
Freedom of speech is the right to say anything you wish, using any medium of communication you can afford. It is not the responsibility of others to pay for some means of expression or to provide you with a platform on which to speak. If a newspaper or television station refuses to allow you to express your views utilizing their property, your right to freedom of speech has not been violated and this is not censorship. Censorship is a concept that only applies to government action, the action of forcibly forbidding and/or punishing the expression of certain ideas.
Statists have corrupted the actual meaning of a right and have converted it, in the minds of most, into its opposite: into a claim on the life of another. With the growth of statism, over the past few decades, we have seen an explosion of these "rights"which, in fact, have gradually eroded your actual right to your life, money and property.
Statists declare you have a "right" to housing, to a job, to health care, to an education, to a minimum wage, to preferential treatment if you are a minority and so on. These "rights" are all a claim, a lien, on your life and the lives of others. These "rights" impose a form of involuntary servitude on you and others. These "rights" force you to pay for someones housing, their health care, their education, for training for a joband, it forces others to provide special treatment for certain groups and to pay higher-than-necessary wages.
Under statism, "rights" are a means of enslavement: it places a mortgage on your lifeand statists are the mortgage holders, on the receiving end of unearned payments forcibly extracted from your life and your earnings. You do not have a right to your life, others do. Others do not have a right to their lives, either, but you have a "right" to theirs. Such a concept of "rights" forcibly hog-ties everyone to everyone else, making everyone a slave to everyone elseexcept for those masters, statist politicians, who pull the strings and crack the whips.
Actual rightsthose actions to which you are entitled by your nature as mangive you clear title to your life. A right is your declaration of independence. A statist "right" is their declaration of your dependence on others and other's dependence on you. Until these bogus "rights" are repudiated, your freedom to live your life as you see fit will continue to slowly disappear.
KrisKrinkle also said:
"Maybe problems regarding statism arise when people deviate from the original terms of the contract. Anybody who doesn't feel obligated by the contract is of course free ignore it and do as they wish but they should also be ready to suffer consequences imposed by those who believe they have a property right in the society and do not wish it to be violated."
I think you are right on here.
I, for example, have withdrawn my consent to be governed due to infringements of my right to keep and bear arms.
So far, none of my actions have been criminal, but I reserve without ethical qualms to right to fight tyranny. As the number of us who also withdraw our consent grows, this will become more important to the future of our nation.
Some people find the "Free State Project" to be rather humorous. I see it as a beginning of the process of withdrawing consent. If our nation wishes to avoid the type of break-up which happened to the Soviet Union, then the nation must return to the Constitution which was established with the consent of the governed.
Does that help?
BTW - "spooky" - "intel" - cute
An unalienable right may be denied but doesn't it still exist?
Rights exist only "between peers"?
While in actual practice the ruling aristocracy has more rights than me, is that the way it is supposed to be from Constitutional and moral standpoints?
And now the prohibition of the public display of the Ten Commandments is considered to be protecting the "free exercise thereof [religion].
Only in Amerika.
The fiction of "group rights" is one of the major problems with this country.
Unfortunately Fulton Huxtable's website, "Fatal Blindness" went dark a couple of months ago.
The original article for this post is from the FR archives. This piece was posted several times and it is worth a look to follow some of the old discussions.
You will see some familar names.
I know several libertarians and objectivists who are of the atheist persuasion who would not only disagree with you but would prove their point in debate.
You'll just have to take my word for it. Most are banned.
I believe the author only referred to natural rights.
Perhaps that's a matter of interpretation. If another person or other people infringe on my rights or fail in any obligation they have to me, I might have a right to their life, money, property or time and I may use coercion in regard to that right.
The libertarian "non agression principle" does cover self defense if someone initiates an act of agression against you. I believe Huxtable covers that in another essay.
While it's true that the actual meaning of a right has been corrupted, it is also true that people may have claims on each others lives by virtue of what for lack of a better term could be called a social contract.
I disagree. One person's need can never constitute a claim on the resources of another. We can have purely voluntary social obligations to address the needs of another but that cannot constitute a right.
Maybe problems regarding statism arise when people deviate from the original terms of the contract.
When people fail to fulfill their social obligations to family and neighbors the state is ready and willing to step in by claiming the needs of the poor do constitute a claim on the resources of the rest.
In an ideal world all laws would conform to natural rights hence no contradiction.
Is this a contradiction? Why or why not?
Animals do not have rights. Rights apply only to the interactions of men. A solitary man cannot violate the rights of another, or have his rights violated.
And in a later post you troll with the comment to me that "Fatal Blindness is an apt name".
You posting of this Roman Catholic prescription for the symbiosis of the church and the state must mean that you agree with it.
As to the section I highlighted first, states do not have rights -- they have powers. Second, the state "demanding from it's members....for the general good" is the opinion that has resulted in the current welfare state.
Something you have no problem with I am sure. After all, you are merely a republican and not a conservative.
2. Participation in government must be limited. Voting rights were extended only to those having property above a certain value.
3. Exclusion, 'those who do not belong.' Criminals, vice addicts etc.
There are other elements which would be tiresome to list and read. Members of the above have rights and only towards each other and others of like qualification.
What I have described is close to what really was. Those attitudes are very alien today.
Thats the way the founders meant it to be. Of course the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Nice to see you again.
You answered your own question:
...the only party capable of diminishing your natural rights is a thug...
But you knew that.
That question has been the source of good debates.
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