This is the first in a series to discuss my Constitutional Property Rights Minarchist philosophy. I will take a look at each element individually before putting it all together. I figured I would start off with the nature of rights because that takes two of the CPRM parts off the table at once. This is because all rights are derived from property rights, which I aim to show through this thesis.
So, what exactly is a right? Is a property right different than a human right? Is the right to keep and bear arms different than the right to free speech? Where do rights come from anyway? I bet they were just made up by some old dead white guy, so they don’t matter. Most of what I’m about to say is probably old hat to most of the readers, but I decided to lay it all out just to make sure before I get to the big picture.
One note on rights off the bat (I like to reference pop culture) my favorite quote on rights actually comes from the band Powerman 5000 in their song ‘Free‘.
“It’s not something you can hold
It’s not something you own
It’s not something you can buy or steal
You’ve got it when you’re alone”
A right is something you have regardless of where or when are born. To hit on the points above, it is a human right. Just by being human these are the rights you posses (why they’re limited to humans will be addressed later on). Well, if it doesn’t matter where or when you are born, then that means certain things can’t be rights. A person born where there is no water can not have a right to it, otherwise that ruins the whole idea that it is inherent in being human, unless you wish to posit people born in a desert are not human, but that would be awfully racist of you. For shame. I think you need counseling to deal with your racism. But you aren’t important, the idea is. So I digress. What other things can a human be born without that some call rights? Well the big one today is healthcare. But that is an even more resource intensive thing than water, I mean we could all spare some water, but there are only a limited few to provide healthcare. That would mean that to provide healthcare to masses would be to compel certain people to provide it. Another thing, which is written into the South African Constitution, is housing. Well, if you have a right to housing, that is also something someone else must be compelled to provide. I keep coming back to that word, don’t I. Compelled. It sounds so innocent. But what does that really mean? Let’s check Dictionary.com
past tense: compelled; past participle: compelled
1.force or oblige (someone) to do something.
“a sense of duty compelled Harry to answer her questions”
|synonyms:||force, pressure, press, push, urge; More|
bring about (something) by the use of force or pressure.
“they may compel a witness’s attendance at court by issue of a summons”
“by heav’n’s high will compell’d from shore to shore”
Oh, gosh that sounds violent. By use of force?
No, we’ll just make a law about it.
How will that law be enforced?
Well by a tax, or a program.
And if people don’t comply?
Well, they’ll get taken to court and fined or put in jail!
And if they don’t show up to court?
They’ll show up.
But if they don’t?
Well, the cops will make them.
How will they do that?
Listen man, people do what cops say.
And if they don’t?
Then the cops make them.
They just do.
Is it the fact the cops ask nicely or the fact that they have guns?
You’re killing my buzz man, leave me alone!
So to go back to the beginning. Yes it is the old ‘private island’ thought experiment, but with a small change. It’s not an Island, but any place on earth where the first humans were the first intelligent beings to move to (that intelligent beings bit will come back on my promise of why they are human rights). Ug shows up with his sharp stick and his loin cloth in lower Mongolia. When he gets there what does he own? Well, of course he owns his own body, he is a slave to no man, and ownership of everything else extends from his self ownership. And that sharp stick, he found it and chewed it for miles to sharpen it. The loin cloth, well he stole that, so that’s a bit more complicated on the ownership front. So he arrives in lower Mongolia and there is nothing there. There is like this one pissed off falcon circling overhead and Ug saw some wild dogs a hundred miles ago. But that’s it. So Ug decides he’s tired of roaming sits his ass down and says ‘shit, fuck this Ug build himself house!’ There aren’t many trees around, but Ug finds enough to build a frame for a rough stone age yurt. He then hunts enough animals and tans enough leather to to finish his new domicile. Ug found some wild grains and harvested the seeds, carefully planting them and tending to his new garden. Then a wild goat shows up, he grabs it and builds a nice pen. The goat provides him with milk to make up for the absence of an accessible source of water. Months pass and Ug has made a nice little home for himself. Then that asshole Ur shows up.
You goat be mine. You house be mine!
No me house mine!
No, me Ur be mine!
No, me Ug be mine!
After a tense stalemate. Ur makes an offer to Ug.
Me know how make fire!
Me know how milk goat!
Me want milk!
Me want fire!
Me give you fire for milk!
Me give you milk for fire!
Me take your house!
Me give you place to build house, if you give me hard rock!
Me give you hard rock, if you build me house!
And that is the right to contract. Ug created things that were not there when he arrived, and owned those as well as himself. Ur owned a rock which Ug wanted, so they traded. I know this is all farcical, but these are the underpinning ideas. You own your own body. You own the fruits of your labor, which you may trade for payment (today we call this going to work). But you know who doesn’t have any rights? Animals. You know why? It’s not because I’m racist against animals, believe me I have lots of animal friends. No, it’s because animals don’t understand rights. That is an important concept. To you this whole diatribe while slanted and farcical, is something you can understand. If I tell you this is mine and that is yours, that is a concept a human can grasp by the age of three. If you try telling that to a 100 year old tortoise it will still just eat your lettuce and shit on your floor. Tortoises are assholes.