Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Libertarian concepts of rights and morality

Libertarian concepts of rights and morality

Yesterday's column has inspired a long discussion of rights and morality in the comments. I suggest you read them to see what lead to this exchange. My answer ended up being longer than most of my columns. I felt that this was important enough to put out front, so here is my answer to "Mike" (some things are not in their original order for clarity- I hope).

Mike- you are really making me think tonight. Thanks!

One thing I suppose I need to explain is that this is my personal morality. This is the morality I will defend and that I will judge others by, but I realize that others, whom I consider to be "of bad character", will have other "moralities". I don't expect anyone else to consider this "universal" although if I am to believe it and live according to it, I myself MUST act as though it is universal. I will explain what I believe, why I believe it, and the actions I will take if someone attacks me in violation of it. In my mind, this attack makes the other person wrong. Obviously others, such as all statists, don't accept this. They have their own inconsistent "moralities" that allow them to justify theft and aggression. I don't think an inconsistent moral code can be taken seriously except by those who are inside it and can't see how ridiculous they are being.

OK, so then why is it species specific when it comes to these things? .....Is a
tomcat immoral when it eats stranger kittens?
The reason I consider rights to be "species specific" is that all life must feed on other life. There is no obligation to any species other than your own. Humans have the capacity to have compassion for other species, but most other species do not. A tomcat that kills another's kittens is not immoral since cats have no sense of morality. He is simply helping to see to it that his genes have a better chance of making it to the next generation, which is as close to a morality as cats have.

How then was Crowley wrong in the Book of the Law-"Do as thou wilt, that shall
be the extent of the Law"(itself stolen, and perverted, from the old
Celtic saying "An' it harm none, do as thou wilt")..?

If the "law" was "Do as thou wilt, that shall be the extent of the Law" there would be no sense in even uttering it, much less writing it down, since that is how bacteria live. Some humans may live that way, but once again, if they initiate force, I will defend myself in accordance with the ZAP.

Why isn't might right? I there some mystical pronouncement, or is there
something different?

"Might" isn't right or wrong. Just as gravity is neither right nor wrong. It can be used wrongly. Initiating force is what is wrong, even if doing so is suicidal. Once again, humans have a moral sense, even if it doesn't always remain consistent. I don't think anyone's moral sense says that "might is right", even if their behavior makes it appear that they believe that. Instead they will try to justify their aggression using some wishy-washy morality of the moment.

...though I must wonder with the scarcity of resources on Earth, how force
cannot have been a fundamental portion of virtually all property-at least at one
time? And since force can be justly used to defend property that was once gained
by force-why not simply project that force?

I don't think force was necessary in all acquisition of property; especially not before humans started bumping into other tribes who were already there. For much of human prehistory, finding another tribe was probably a rare thing, and a cause for trade, sex, and celebration. Until the territories started overlapping too much. I think that is where force- "war"- came into play.

I also am not going to lose sleep over wrongs that occurred long before I was born, between people who are long dead. If that were the case, everyone would probably commit suicide from guilt. Blank slate- from this point on initiate no force; steal from no one. I paid for my car. Did any of the steel in it come from land that was stolen from a rightful owner at some point? I can't know that one way or the other. Did I commit or authorize the theft or approve of it? No.

In that way of thinking, "defending rights" could well mean advancing them
arbitrarily, collectively, or simply individually-engaging in theft. Is there a
way out of this while the increasing scarcity of Earth prevails?

I think everyone knows the difference between "defending rights" and "advancing them"; one is defense, the other, aggression.

If humans find no solution for an "increasing scarcity", nature will solve it for us, probably in a very cruel and horrible way.

In other words, if true peace and freedom is to be in the future, don't humans
need to get off this rock?

Yes, we must. But not only for peace and freedom. For survival in the long term, and possibly even in the short term, yes, we must move off this rock. You know what they say about keeping all your eggs in one basket. Earth is a fragile basket lying in the middle of the interstate and all our eggs, figuratively and literally, are in this basket. To not take action when we can, and know we must, is to guarantee our extinction (sooner than it has to occur). NASA can't keep us all earthbound forever if we refuse to cooperate and keep waiting.

Property rights explained as I see them

Property rights explained as I see them

In a previous column I expressed an opinion that the majority disagreed with: That wherever you go, you take a you-shaped "bubble" of your property rights with you that no one has a right to violate even if they invite you onto their property. I would like to expand on this idea a little.

If I invite others onto my property, I still retain ALL rights to my property. My guests have no right to take, destroy, alter, or even "improve" my property in any way without my express permission. However, my property rights do not extend into their personal property bubble while they are on my property. Similar to the idea of a "force field", they have a "rights shield" at all times. Others can choose between two choices: to respect it, or to violate it.

In the same way that I have no right to dictate what is in my guests' pocket as long as it stays there, I can't declare any of their other rights null and void simply because they accepted my invitation to visit me. I can't declare my property a "rape zone" in other words, where by coming onto my property my guests give "implied consent" to be sexually attacked. Even posting a sign to that effect wouldn't make it my "right". No one ever has a right to violate the rights of another.

Now, as I have said before, just because you have a right doesn't mean you must exercise it. You may have social reasons for not exercising a right at certain times or in certain situations. That is also your right. If you choose to give up your right for a period of time in order to be seen as trying to "get along" or to not make a scene, that is your business. I will NEVER ask you to do that on my account.

People come with certain rights that are not subject to negotiation. Simply because they are human you must assume they possess those rights and are exercising them at any given moment. You must "assume liberty". That means if you wish to invite people onto your property you are assuming that you are inviting real people onto your property with their rights and freedoms fully intact and functional. If you are not willing to do that, then you are not really inviting people onto your property, you are creating slaves.