Wednesday, January 13, 2010

'Losing your rights' part 2

The debate in the comments of a previous column, over whether rights can be lost or not, made me realize something which I think is vital. Whichever side if the debate you find yourself on I ask you: which premise would make for a more ethical, livable, society of maximum liberty?

I firmly believe that, whether you truly think rights are inherent in being a living human being or whether you think they can be forfeited by engaging in aggression, if you act as though rights can never be lost your society will be better for it.

One example that comes to mind will be a real issue after the fall of government. There may be a strong temptation to zealously pursue and punish, or even execute, everyone who has added to the death and destruction of the previous society by working with, or for, government. After all, "government" can do nothing without individual human beings initiating force and committing theft and fraud. Do these individual aggressors deserve death? In a great majority of cases, yes. You could say that by their acts of aggression they have given up their right to liberty or life. And, if rights can be lost, you would be right.

However I think it would be better to wipe the slate clean and only kill them in self-defense if they return to their old government-like ways in the new, free, society. What kind of society would we have after the fall of the state if we spent the next several decades trying to ferret out everyone who had been a part of government and give them what they deserve? I know I wouldn't want to live in that world.