Monday, July 26, 2010
Are human rights evil, violent and complete nonsense?
According to Jeremy Bentham in Anarchial Fallacies (some philosopher dude who died ages ago) they are ‘nonsense upon stilts’. Tall nonsense. Why?
The French declaration of the rights of man affirms that everyone has ‘natural and imprescriptable’ rights which consist of the right to liberté 2propriété, sûreté, and résistance à l'oppression. That is liberty, property, security and freedom of oppression.
Liberty Lets look at liberty which is by far one of the most ambiguous rights. Liberty is freedom. Liberty is the condition of being free from restriction or control. There is no line you can draw on freedom. You either have it all or have none. If you are a liberalist like me you’d believe that this is fair as most people have good intentions and really just want to live and let live. There are a minority of psychopaths out there but hey we can punish them because we are free to do so. These psychopaths can also avenge us because they have the freedom to do so. However majority rules and they usually don’t get far without getting caught except for Jack the Ripper. But let’s not diverge from our topic. So in effect if you support the right to liberty you also support the right to kill. If killing is evil then yes so are human rights.
The right to property If you believe in the right to property you believe in the right to squat. Some random stranger can come into your house and say ‘I’m camping out here for the moment and you cant prevent me from doing so , I have a natural right to property’. The right to property infers that man has the right to everything. Unfortunately what is every mans right is also no mans right. So basically by giving man the right to property you are extinguishing his right to property. My house is not just mine if I have the right to property. The Squatter also has the right to own my house. My neighbour can renovate it, destroy it do what he wants with it and I can’t say anything because he too has the right to property. To prevent him from doing so would be to take away both his liberty and his intangible right to have anything. This can actually be an attractive idea if you don’t believe in stealing. Look at the Australian Aboriginal tribes for example who believed that everything belongs to everyone so they can borrow and take as they please. And everyone was cool with that. Sharing is caring. This leads me to question is sharing the opposite of stealing??
But I deviate again....
Security The right to security means that person has the right to protect himself against anything that he might believe will endanger his person. So in effect all laws are void if they endanger man, this includes conscription, workchoices (ok this is an aussie joke) and severe jail terms including the death penalty. So what do you do? You are in court and the big burly judge is just about to sentence you to life imprisonment for the crime you’ve committed. Well if you have the right to security you are by all means entitled to unconceal your scout’s knife and kill the judge. And there is nothing the courtroom can do about it because you merely enforcing your natural right to protect yourself from harm.
Resistance to Oppression This is an even murkier right. If you already have the three rights mentioned above what is the point of this one? Surely your rights to liberty, property and security protect you from being oppressed already? I believe the right to resist oppression can also mean you have the right to oppress. The fault lies in the definition of oppression which is the act of oppressing; arbitrary and cruel exercise of power. You are chronic smoker about to be treated for a lung infection. You need a cigarette desperately and the nurse says prohibits you from acquiring one. She is taking away your freedom to smoke which in one way or another is oppression. You feel oppressed and you are about to exercise your freedom to resist it. What do you do? You can trip the nurse and have a smoko. Are you being violent? Yes but hey you can be violent when it comes to resisting your oppressor. There is a positive aspect to this right and that is non-violent means of resisting your oppressor e.g. a peace rally.
This leads me to believe that human rights are evil, nonsense and violent. However this can be changed not by removing the freedom but by adding detail and specifics to how you can exercise your natural rights.