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Do we have rights?

We hear about rights quite a lot. From human rights to constitutional rights and many many others. But are they real?

The problem with rights is that rights are a claim on others.

This is because rights are “posessive”, i.e. a right ‘grants’ us something. This implies that there must be somebody to do the granting.

For example: lets assume we have the right to drink water. If we are in the middle of a dessert, then how can we claim that right? That is only possible if there is somebody (a second party) that is capable of giving us the water.

The same is true for the right to live our lives as we want it. As soon as that is infringed, we have to appeal to a third party to claim that right.

It is maybe easier to demonstrate this by assuming we live alone on an island. Do we have rights when we are alone? I think it is clear to see that it is impossible to have rights when we are alone.

Even if a right is formulated to only refer to ourselves, this problem crops up. For example a right to work. Nobody else needed? Well, what if we are ill? Can we then claim that right? What if we put ourself in a situation where we cannot work, do we then expect somebody else to come along and help us claim our right?

Formulating this as “the right to work, but not the right to lay claim on somebody else” is not helping, because that is nothing else but the right to not have a right. Which negates itself.


So why do we bother with rights?

Ah, that is where the rubber meets the road. If rights must be granted then obviously we must give someone the power to grant rights. So a right does two things: it gives one person a claim and it gives another person power. Power always goes in the opposite direction as the right (claim).

Also, the power that is given must always be greater than the rights received. They will never be equal for the simple reason that the giver of rights will want some for himself.

The result is a simple as astonishing: the existence of rights ensures the existence of rulers. Said in simpler words: only slaves can have rights.

A free human has no rights.

Originally posted at: 2016-11-22
Last modified on: 2016-11-22