Nature of Rights

Rights are the fundamental principles governing the conduct of relations among men in a free society. The concept of rights has its origin in the nature of man: that he is a rational animal, and his nature requires that he is to be dealt-with only in ways that are conforming/right to his nature. Rights are neither gifts endowed upon men by non-existing entities nor entitlements granted upon a man at the expense of his fellow men by the establishment.

As required by Man’s nature, his first right in a society is the Man’s right to his own life. Its meaning is, in his capacity as a rational animal, it is right for a man to perform the activities required to maintain and further his own life, without being coerced.

The only rational inference of a Man’s right to his own life is his right to the products of his work. That is the meaning of the right formalised by Man’s right to his own property. A man in his capacity as a rational animal is the sole proprietor of his life, his ability to do productive work using his own rationale, and the sole proprietor of the product of such work, when and only if such work is committed by him. When two individuals in a free society need each others’ products, whatever they are, the only way to exchange them is by Contract: A list of Mutually agreed terms.

Claim to another man’s product in a free society is only through contract.

In a society where anyone can use and dispose of the product of a man’s life, calling their need to consume his product as a claim over his product, no rational man can survive, no rights can exist and such a society is bound to collapse. Observe the fates of monarchies, oligarchies, communist regimes or unlimited democracies throughout the recorded human history as examples.

A state that recognises a Man’s right to his own life, his right to his own property and their applications in its constitution, necessitates an institution of free men to preserve such rights of individuals. That is the reason, Government is needed and elected by men in a free society and only for that reason. It is the only institution which has monopoly over force, and the use of such force is strictly limited to ensure the defence of the individual rights of citizens, while the individuals perform their desired productive activities.

As a compensation for such efforts of individuals that form the machinery of the establishment, citizens are taxed. An establishment in a free society can be said to be corrupt when it starts making laws other than the applications of man’s original rights of life and property, and starts taxing individuals for the services they can perform to each other on their own, through making contracts. Only proper function of Government in this context is to ensure the honouring of contracts made by the individuals involved.

Constant inflation of the bill of rights that place taxing obligations on citizens by stating “needs of the moment” is the hallmark of a society transitioning into the tyranny of an unlimited democracy.

Rights can never be obligations over an individual to perform any activity. They can only be restraints over his fellow men to abstain from activities that violate his rights.

Notice that a man’s right to his own life doesn’t place an obligation over his fellow men that they perform the activities required to maintain his life: that would be slavery. It only means that no one can interrupt a man from performing the tasks he deems necessary to maintain his own life at a standard he desires. A man’s right to his own property doesn’t place an obligation over his fellow men to work and earn properties for him: that would be slavery. It only means that any product of a man’s life and his work is his own property, and that if he earned it, no one can take it away from him without him authorising it through a contract. Such is the Nature of Rights.

Avinash Kumar