The One Minute Case For Individual Rights

Man is the rational animal

Like all living beings, man requires certain values to survive, but he is unique in that he must choose the values necessary for his life because he has no automatic means of doing so. It is his ability to experience the world around him and comprehend it by the use of reason that gives him the capacity to understand the values his life requires, and then achieve them. Every value we enjoy in our civilized, comfortable, existence is the product of the application of man’s mind to reality.

There is no “collective mind”

All creative effort, every invention in history, was created by the mental effort of individual men and women. When they worked together, their knowledge was increased by the work of predecessors, but each advance they made was their own. The mind cannot be received, shared, or borrowed.

Man requires freedom to live

To live, man must achieve the values necessary to sustain his live. To achieve his values, man must be free to think and to act on his judgment.  Restrictions on freedom force man to focus not on the absolutes of reality, but on the arbitrary ideas of others. In a free society, a man can choose to not associate with those who do not respect his judgment – by finding a new job, new friends, or a new lover. Even if there is no one to share his ideas, every man is still free to present his own vision – by publishing his ideas or becoming an entrepreneur. However, as soon as he faces the threat of physical force, the possibility of any such alternatives becomes irrelevant. The initiation of force renders the mind useless as a means of survival.

Freedom requires rights

Rights are moral principles defining man’s freedom of action in society. The purpose of establishing individual rights is to protect man from man – to define the basic conditions necessary for social existence. All rights derive from a man’s right to his own life, including the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether it is by a theft, force, fraud, or government coercion, man’s rights can be violated only by the initiation of force.

Rights are inalienable and non-conflicting

Rights are not guarantees to things or obligations placed on others, but only guarantees to freedom from violence (the right to life), freedom of action (the right to liberty), and the results of those actions (the right to property). In a free society, men deal with one another exclusively by trade, voluntarily exchanging value for value to their mutual benefit. The only obligations one’s rights impose on other men is to respect the same and equal rights of others – the freedom to be left alone. A man may have his rights violated by a criminal or a government, but morally he remains, in the right, and the criminal in the wrong.

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  4. Quaint, but meaningless. None of the things are true, they are simply romantic notions of a perfect existence. Man does not need to be any more rational than animals. Consider the power religion has had over man for thousands of years. A devout worshiper obeys his master just as a squirrel obeys his instinct. He also does not need rights nor freedom – millions have lived as slave from cradle to grave and never expected a minutes freedom, yet continue breathing none the less. The only reason freedom requires rights is because they are recursive; both are essentially the same thing. Rights are, as you have likely seen throughout your life, very conflicting and alienable. Do we have a right to own a gun, or a right to live without fear of them? Right to life, or rights to an abortion? If rights were inalienable, we wouldn’t debate them every four years.

    • I think you just made the libertarians’ case. That have to be addressed every 2 to 4 years because the progressives are continuously attempting to abrogate those natural (not god-given…nature given)rights.
      It’s so easy to be a liberal cum progressive. Words have no meaning….they’re just “quaint”.

  5. Rights like freedom are not individually inalienable, but inalienable in the long-term of human history.

    They are also existential inalienable for individuals, but common liberties are as imaginary as these digital words.

  6. The notion of capitalism is flawed beyond repair. It is not wrong to compete, to try to deliver a better product or at least a similar product at a lower price. But when that notion is taken to the level of a moral belief it is simply silly. And trying to state facts about capitalism is absurd. Name one place where capitalism has actually existed and then we can discuss its supposed advantages. Regulation and taxation occur in all cultures in some form and that precludes capitalism from existence. Since no nation has ever tried capitalism just who swears that it is either good or efficient?

    • Why, “….when carried to a moral belief..” is it silly? Principles (and the words that state them) have meaning. If not, your words are meaningless, just froth on the top of an epiphenomenal wave in the ocean.

  7. Why would you consider it “silly” to enunciate the moral grounds of capitalism? Au contrare…it is essential. You apparently believe that unless we must experience 100% laissez-faire to have capitalism…all or nothing. Now THAT is silly! We are, at present, a semi-capitalist country BECAUSE we have diluted the Constitution on the one hand and elected and re-elected politicians that make deals with businesses to create monopolies or perform special favors for “groups”(there are no group rights). Maybe one day we’ll learn to separate business and state the way we have church and state.

    • Excellent retort. We DO need to separate business and state the way we have with church and state. It’s time to criminalize both the lobbyist and the creature (Senator or Congressman or Bureaucrat) that allows this leech into their governmental offices.
      I wonder if the progressives would even consider that, but then….there goes ACORN and all those “FAVORED” groups.

  8. @dwindle Man’s conceptual faculty is volitional, not automatic. And more importantly, it is not infallible; mistakes are possible to man, and you have illustrated many of them quite eloquently in your post.

    Where we disagree, however, is on the point that man does not need reason to survive.

    In today’s society, a group of parasites may lobby the government to force productive individuals to provide for the needs of the parasites. But notice that this system is only sustainable so long as productive people are willing to produce.

    Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged illustrates a pretty extreme case of what could happen when the producers “wake up” and realize that they have a right not to be robbed. [SPOILER ALERT: when the producers go on strike, the parasitic society collapses completely within a couple of years.]

    Ask yourself whether slaves and unthinking dogma-worshippers are the ones responsible for liberating man from caves, from giving him fire, for discovering agriculture… for inventing automobiles and skyscrapers, for devising vaccines and cures to deadly diseases, and so forth. Then decide for yourself if the life of an animal is the proper state of man.

  9. Funny. You need the state to keep your monopoly on the things people need to survive so you can employ their work power and, at the same time, you think you are the one being robbed. So don’t be so sure that this kind of wealth is obtained legitimately.

    Before you say so, I’m not a communist, but you’re oversimplifying things.

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