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← Does Religious Liberty Equal Freedom to Discriminate?

KenChimp's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by KenChimp

Comment 45 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Hmm. It makes emminent logical sense to me that there cannot exist an 'a priori' set of rights. To anyone who argues ' I have the right.....', I would ask what is giving them that right. That is because the whole rights issue is ass backwards and people don't grasp that the true reality is that nobody has any rights at all. From that perspective it makes more sense to argue that those who abuse or discriminate do not themselves have a 'right' to do so. This is not just semantics...........instead of rights being something individuals are patronisingly 'granted' to protect themselves from the power of others, the real focus should be what 'right' others have to that power over us in the first place. In a truly free and liberal world there would be no 'rights' whatever.

Perhaps I am wrong in my assessment, but it seems to me that you confuse "rights" with "privileges". There is a huge difference. The idea behind the liberal philosophy of "inalienable rights" or "natural rights" suggests that the liberty is independent of every consideration except individual human existence. Privileges are granted. Rights cannot be granted or taken. They can only be surrendered.

In the world today, the concept of rights has been so thoroughly confused with privileges that most no longer understand, much less acknowledge the difference. It is painfully obvious in the United States today (and has been for over a decade at the very least).

"The unexamined life is not worth living", is a statement attributed to Socrates. And according to legend, this was such a strong conviction to him that he drank the cup of hemlock with no outward reservation, save for sadness over what his beloved Athens had become. The liberal enlightenment's position is best summed up in the statement, "Life without liberty is not worth living." And in this solemn, perhaps arguably fatalist view, is an ultimate bedrock of inviolability. One cannot conquer and enslave a person or people so committed to liberty that they are not only willing to die for it, but prefer death to a life without it.

It may be argued that this is a very barbarously dogmatic and uncompromising position. I concur. But I also embrace the view. As foolish and/or naive as some may find this view, I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. That is a position which offers no alternatives except cessation of aggressive hostilities or total annihilation. Any would-be tyrant who wishes to "press the issue" against a person or people so committed gains a hollow victory at best. At worst, such a tyrant rules over a ruined, useless land of corpses. There isn't much gain in that to justify the effort and the loss of the slaughter.

In warfare, this policy is known as "scorched earth". A defender using scorched earth tactics destroys everything an aggressor might be able to use, up to and including the defenders' lives, if necessary. This policy or tactic is not merely physically discouraging to an aggressor, but psychologically daunting as well. There is nothing an aggressor can do to stop such defense, save actively contributing to it by wholesale slaughter. And I think it can be successfully argued that there are far more reasons not to press against a people so committed, than there are supporting the continued aggression. Even if a would-be dictator is so monstrously insane as to desire continuation of aggression against scorched earth defenders, his or her people, and indeed his or her direct instruments of aggression (military forces) have a tendency to balk in the face of it.

It isn't a perfect inviolability. There is no such thing in a world where it is unlikely that every single human will decide and choose not to infringe upon the liberties of any other. But it does highlight the fact that nothing grants rights. Not belief in fantasies, not political power, not guns and bombs, not even reason. Rights exist where life exists, and rights begin to have no meaning and relevance only at the very instant that life is extinguished. All the living can do is to either insure those rights, die trying, or surrender them and become slaves to others.

Thu, 31 May 2012 14:37:45 UTC | #944755