Asking The Wrong Questions

Uniting Constitutional Protection for Economic and Social Liberties, Part 1: Substantive Due Process and Unenumerated Rights by Steven Horwitz

For libertarians the right to engage in contract and exchange with other consenting adults is just as important as the right to engage in speech and sex with other consenting adults. Other civil liberties, such as the right to bear arms or to buy, sell, and ingest various chemical substances are outgrowths of the rights to contract and the right to engage in “anything that’s peaceful” (i.e., that does not cause harm to innocent others).

Steve goes on at length about all this, and obviously plans to write a great deal more, but I would like to ask him a few simple questions.

Where and how does anyone, or any group of people, obtain legitimate authority to dictate anything to anyone? Please carefully consider the meaning of the word legitimate as I’m using it.

in accordance with the laws of reasoning; logically inferable; logical:

not spurious or unjustified; genuine

Does Obama have any more authority over your life and property than nosy neighbor Mrs. Grundy next door? Clue: neither of them have ANY actual authority unless you give it to them. They can initiate violence against you, or gossip all over town about you, but both are pretty much depending on your fear of them and your compliance, however unwilling.

Instead of talking about “rights” to this or that, you might begin to question just why and how anyone could have the authority to forbid or interfere with your life in any way that didn’t involve aggression toward others.

Outside of self defense, the most fundamental, natural response to aggression, by what authority does anyone decide on the choices or actions of another person who does not consent to that control?

There are many “rights,” but only one legitimate authority. Each individual has that authority only for her/himself, and held in trust for those who are legitimately dependent on them, such as children and senile elders. Serious dependence on government stolen goods and other perks of being one of the controllers, or the controlled, is not an insignificant concern, of course.

Nothing at all prevents each of us from having our own opinion, belief, and preferences. We can each most certainly and rightly associate, or not associate, with anyone for any reason (the current level of forced association being a prime example of what is wrong with the “rights” question). But what gives anyone, especially government, the authority to dictate, force, non-aggressive others to comply with someone else’s idea of what is right or good – or for your own good? That’s the question.

I question why so many people, even well read, well educated libertarians, fail to see that granting authority to the tyrants, taking it for a given somehow, is what keeps the chains around our necks. It is not possible for any “government” or entity to actually control people without their cooperation and tactic consent – even if it is a “comply or die” situation. And there are not enough tyrants or their minions to enforce the bogus authority they claim if their edicts are simply ignored by the majority.

The question isn’t what “rights” do people have to control their own lives, but what authority does anyone else have to do it for them?

I have a new translation of the “libertarian” non-aggression principle:

No human being has the authority to initiate force against another human being under any circumstances, nor to delegate such initiation of force.

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