Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rights are to be asserted, defended

Rights are to be asserted, defended

(My Clovis News Journal column for February 21, 2014. This was my "emergency backup column" which I whipped out after my original column for today was rejected. You can read that one here: link.)

Often when I hear people speak of "rights" they seem to be saying rights are something others are required to respect. Or even give them.

The truth is rights are something you need to assert. They are nothing if you don't defend them from all threats.

A right is something you don't need to ask permission, from anyone, to do. It is the opposite of a privilege.

Rights don't come from other people, nor from groups of other people or from any documents. They come from your existence. To prove you have every single human right that has every existed in anyone, anywhere, at any time, you only need to show up. You don't have to prove your identity or your citizenship or that you are "law abiding" (whatever that might mean now).

Every right is simply about not having something done to you.

The so-called "positive rights" all seek to enslave someone else for your benefit. This makes them contradictory, since in this case your "right" would violate someone else's right. No one is obligated to give you health care, or a job, or food, or a place to live, or a gun. But no one has the right to prevent you from providing those things for yourself as long as you don't violate some other person's equal and identical rights by attacking, stealing, or trespassing on private property.

The core nature of rights is the reason why the War on Politically Incorrect Drugs can never be a moral cause, and why anti-gun "laws" are never legitimate.

Some libertarians believe that rights don't really exist- they are a mental construct without basis in reality. If that's the case, then no one could have a right to tell others how to live or otherwise try to control another's life, which brings us full circle, so I'd be OK with that. If it were true.

But how far do rights go?

You have the fundamental human right to do absolutely anything that doesn't violate any other person or their property. No matter how badly it offends someone else, as there is no "right to not be offended". Any "law" that seeks to prevent you from living fully, within your rights, is a counterfeit "law": it may look like a real law, it may use legal language, it might even be enforced and upheld, but it lacks a legitimate foundation and is therefore completely unethical. Don't be caught advocating or defending counterfeit "laws". Instead, spend your energy defending rights.


Ask a simple question...

A while back, on Facebook, I asked a question:

I have a question for a couple of specific people. For this I chose the most vocal "liberal" on my facebook, and the most vocal "conservative". I realize it may take a while to get both to answer, but I am really curious and hope others will wait to see how the question is answered by these two. (If you would like to "share" this status on your own timeline and tag your own favorite "progressive" and "conservative", feel free. Maybe this could be the start of an interesting experiment.) 
PLEASE NOTE!: ***I don't want this to be a debate over the relative superiority of either side, nor an attack on the other.*** I just want to get a feel for how a (mostly random) "representative" from each side "feels" about the situation. Please don't make me regret asking this! I will delete this status if trouble ensues. (Remember that as a libertarian/voluntaryist/anarchist I agree with each side some of the time and roll my eyes at them the rest of the time. 
To lead into my question: It seems that both the "liberal/progressive" side and the "conservative" side lament how much power and influence the other side has over politics in America/The United States right now. 
So, my very simple question for y'all is this: 
Do you see "society" moving in the general direction you would prefer? Yes, no, other?
And, after getting some answers, I have come to some conclusions.

Will people follow instructions? Not really. I wanted everyone to wait until the people I asked had answered before chipping in with their own opinions. They didn't. I wasn't surprised. And some people just went off on strange tangents that had me confused from the first. 

Will people respect a polite, sincere request? No.

Will people stay civil? Not looking good. The barbs were somewhat veiled, but were still there.

Who will get nasty first? Pretty much the first person to actually answer the question. See above.

Will libertarians be able to resist commenting even though they weren't asked? No. LOL. I knew that would happen, since I probably would have been fighting the same urge to weigh in.

Do people see "society" moving in the direction that makes them feel like the underdog or like the victor? "Conservatives" seem to see themselves as the righteous underdog, and "liberals" seem to see themselves as the "victims" of a rich conservative smear campaign (but still on the winning side). So, it's a little of both, but probably depends on how they want to see "their side" at the moment. Funny thing is that neither side sees the same position applies equally well to their adversaries- depending on the issue.

How strongly will their own biases color their response, and how they phrase it? Their biases seemed to color who they saw as the ones causing the political system to be broken, but neither side saw allowing the political system to exist as a problem. That's a problem. 

So, "both sides" see a problem, and interpret the problem differently, but neither sees themselves as the root of the problem. It's all someone else's fault. "The Rich", the irresponsible, the stupid or gullible. They blame "money in politics", but don't see that the root of the problem is allowing anyone to make up any rules which will violate the rights of some people for the "benefit" of others. Money isn't all that causes that harm- the "capital of victimhood" is even stronger in some cases.

Although I didn't ask, it seems that the libertarians who responded see "society" going the wrong way, too, similar to the reaction of the "conservatives".

Personally, I think it's not as cut and dried as that.

Yes, politics and its shadow, "The State", are growing more tyrannical and evil. Those thugs are trying to squeeze the last drops of liberty out of our lives. But... in many ways the technology which empowers the bad guys also empowers the good. The internet is letting more and more people see just how ridiculous Rulers really are, and the real-world destructive consequences of allowing them to have any "authority" and power. For each new strike against liberty by The State, a new weapon to defend liberty is created. The control freaks are busily created the tools of their own destruction, and the more frantic they get about the threat liberty poses, the fasted they work to destroy themselves. It won't be a comfortable trip, though.

It isn't that "we" need to elect "the right people", or get money out of politics, or force everyone around us to wisely be responsible for themselves. The problem as I see it is that way too many people still believe it's OK to coerce others to live as we want them to, and to violate their property rights as a way to finance their own slavery. You can't do the right thing in the wrong way- you can't be helpful by being evil.

What you can do is be responsible for yourself and your own property. Don't violate any other person's life, liberty, or property, and come to the defense of those who you see being violated by anyone. If it neither "breaks [your] leg nor picks [your] pocket", butt out. Drop the delusion that you should control other people for their own good, or protect them from the consequences of their own actions against their will. They are not your property to control. Get over it. Politics has no place in life.