Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Man's Rights

Well, with all the recent talk about "Atlas Shrugged," I've been skimming back over some of her writings. The novel is almost 1,100 pages, and I have no plans to re-read it (although I'm considering The Fountainhead for another round). I have been reading some of Rand's essays, for example, "Man's Rights", which is featured in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness. A sample:
The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history.

All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary coexistence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self- sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action-which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
More at the link.


Mr. Mcgranor said...

Natural Law--thus Rights--is not some intellectual theory. The supposed 'libertarians' of Libertarianism - are less of character and more of intellectual theorizing and idealism.