What Is Justice (an inquiry into the nature of rights)?
  • The concept of justice is inseparable from the concept of rights. The words are deeply interwoven and interconnected — linguistically, legally, lexically, historically.

    The word “justice” derives from the Latin word jūstitia, which means “rightness” or “righteous.” Jūstitia in turn derives from an even deeper antecedent, and with it the idea of rights: both terms were built upon a now little-known concept which composes the first three letters of the words jūstitia and justice.

    Quoting historian J. Stuart Jackson:

    “Rights come from the Ancient Roman concept of jus which is wider than that of positive law laid down by authority, and denotes an order morally binding on the members of the community.”

    In the old Roman sense, the term right, synonymous with jus, meant “that which is morally just” — which is to say, that which is moral or morally justified.

    Human beings can and often do breach or infringe the rights of other human beings, but this fact, far from arguing against the validity of rights, as it’s sometimes supposed, discloses instead the true and fundamental nature of rights, grounding rights in the facts of reality thereby — the facts of reality that give rise to rights:

    Human beings can and indeed do breach and infringe the rights of other human beings, but to do so is not right. It is wrong.

    It’s neither coincidence nor mere semantics that the word wrong is the antonym of right in this context as well.


    Rights are a formal codification of human freedom.

    Rights particularize the concept of freedom.

    A right is an act or action which can be performed or exercised without another’s consent or permission.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    Right specify the freedom with which you and I as an individuated human beings are born.

    Rights codify explicitly the fact that no other person or institution has rightful jurisdiction over the person or property of another individual human being.

    Justice (also sometimes known as proportionality or equity) is nothing more or less than the full legal recognition and protection of each and every individual’s right to her own life and property — and only her own life and property.

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term rights as “A justifiable claim, on legal or moral grounds, to have or obtain something, or to act in a certain manner.”

    Freedom in a politico-economic sense is one thing only: it is the absence of state coercion.

    Human freedom is the omission of state coercion and governmental force.

    Human freedom in this sense, the actual sense, guarantees you nothing much of anything at all: neither success, nor wealth, nor a universal basic income, nor clothing, nor shelter, nor food, nor healthcare, nor education, nor even an equal opportunity, nor level playing field, nor level training field.

    Freedom guarantees you nothing much of anything, that is, except for the one and only thing that ultimately matters: it guarantees you that you are left alone and that this inviolable condition of being left alone is legally protected — legally and in full. So that you’re free to act and interact voluntarily and consensually with any and all fellow human-beings who voluntarily and consensually agree to act and interact with you: free from the coercive power of the state.

    That is the one and only thing which true human freedom assures each of us: that we are left alone, free from government compulsion, coercion, force.

    Everything else that human-beings need to survive and prosper, whether food, clothing, shelter, income, healthcare, education, money, and all the rest, comes about not by right, since nature doesn’t assure any creature (the human creature included) of automatic survival or prosperity, but rather by voluntary, consensual human action and interaction.

    Which is another way of saying, human cooperation freely engaged in — free from authoritarian coercion, free from state force.


    The only alternative to human freedom as I’ve just described it is some form of command-and-control the mutations and permutations of which are endless:

    Bureaucrats, agents of the state, permitting (or not permitting) individual human-beings to exist but only on the condition that we each as individual human-beings exist not as we ourselves see fit but exclusively in the way that the state deems we must.

    This is also known as slavery, which, incidentally, is still to this day practiced in many different countries around the world — countries whose governments are often praised by western elites like Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Barack Obama’s “Director of Communications” Anita Dunn, and of course Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who infamously spoke out in public about how much he admires China’s “top-down style of government.”

    Unquote.

    The following is from World Population Review:

    One-hundred-sixty-seven countries in the world today still practice slavery, affecting about forty-six million individual human-beings on planet earth. Six of these countries have significantly higher numbers:

    India (18.4 million slaves)

    China (3.4 million slaves)

    Pakistan (2.1 million slaves)

    Bangladesh (1.5 million slaves)

    Uzbekistan (1.2 million slaves)

    North Korea (1.1 million slaves)

    Other countries that have significantly high slave populations are Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Egypt, Myanmar, Iran, Turkey, and Sudan.

    (Link)


    The primary thing that distinguishes the free person from the unfree person is voluntary, consensual action versus action that is coerced or compelled.

    Consensual, voluntary human action hinges upon the principle of individual rights:

    Are we each free to live as we choose, provided we do not infringe upon the equal rights of others?

    Or are we not?

    The most fundamental politico-economic question is this:

    Do we rightfully have jurisdiction over ourselves, or do others rightfully have jurisdiction over us?


    Ultimately there’s only one way to infringe another’s rights, and that is through the instigation of coercion and force.

    Quoting the 19th century politico-economic philosopher Auberon Herbert:

    Nobody has the moral right to seek his own advantage by force. That is the one unalterable, inviolable condition of a true society. Whether we are many, or whether we are few, we must learn only to use the weapons of reason, discussion, and persuasion…. As long as men are willing to make use of force for their own ends, or to make use of fraud, which is only force in disguise, wearing a mask, and evading our consent, just as force with violence openly disregards it — so long as this, then, we must use force to restrain force. That is the one and only one right employment of force … force in the defense of the plain simple rights of property, public or private, in a world, of all the rights of self-ownership — force used defensively against force used aggressively (Auberon Herbert, The Principles of Voluntaryism, 1897).

    As Auberon Herbert notes, force can be direct, as in assault and rape, or indirect, as in fraud or extortion.

    There’s no other way to breach rights than through the (direct or indirect) instigation of force.

    Laws that restrict freedom of production and trade (such as prohibitions on interstate commerce) are an indirect use of force.

    Trade tariffs are an indirect use of force.

    Military conscription is a direct use of force.

    Compulsory education is a direct use of force.

    Mandatory medical injections — of any kind, whether they’re experimental biologically active genetic injections or otherwise — are a direct use of force.


    Rights, I repeat, are a formal codification and particularization of human freedom.

    Right specify the freedom with which you and I as an individuated human beings are born.

    A right is an act or action which can be performed or exercised without another’s consent, permission, or say-so.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    Privileges are not rights but the antonym of rights: they are permissions.

    A privilege in the true meaning of the word (as against the bastardized meaning made vogue this past decade) is the polar opposite of a right: it is a permission granted.

    Human freedom means the freedom to voluntarily exchange — what Adam Smith described as the freedom “to truck, barter, and exchange” — with anyone who voluntarily, consensually agrees to exchange with us.

    There is no type of freedom other than the type which voluntary exchange brings about.


    Rights are ethical principles, and they are also politico-economic principles.

    As such rights delimit human freedom in large groups.

    This latter thing is emphasized because rights would not need to be discovered if you lived alone, or even if you lived in a small and insular society.

    Rights derive from three fundamental things: human individuation, human society, and the power of choice, which comes from the human faculty of reason, which is also known as the rational faculty, which gives rise to moral agency.

    Rights are discoveries, not inventions.

    One proof of this is indeed found in the fact that the only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    The question then becomes:

    Whose permission? And who gives permission to those whose permission the rest of us are acting under? And who gives permission to the people above them and so on?

    Answering those questions is where you’ll begin to see with gin-like, vodka-like, water-like clarity the true and fundamental nature of rights: a right is by definition any act or action that can be exercised without another’s permission.

    Thus the correct answer to the questions above is the exact same answer, and that answer is this:

    Nobody.

    Because a right is the diametric opposite of a permission.

    Because acting by right is the diametric opposite of acting by permission.

    Because as individuated human-beings we act by right, not permission.

    This is also why rights were and occasionally still are described as “inalienable” (or “unalienable” — both words are still used today and they’re synonymous): because rights are not granted, and they cannot be revoked, transferred, or made alien.

    Rights are immanent.

    They indwell.

    Rights are either recognized or they’re not.

    If rights are not recognized, they’re breached.

    To breach a right is wrong.

    It can indeed be done — and it often is done.

    But to do so is not right.

    It is wrong.

    When, for example, a city official body-checks without prompting or provocation another individual human being, that city official, then, has instigated an act of force, and he has thus breached the rights of a fellow human being.

    That city official is therefore wrong.

    That city official has acted in a way unequivocally in the wrong.

    That city official has not acted rightly.

    If justice is to be served, that city official must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for infringing upon another’s rights, which are inalienable.

    In that hypothetical scenario, if the city official is not prosecuted for infringing another’s inalienable rights, an act of injustice has then been committed.

    Such acts of injustice must also be met with justice.

    The compounding crime in such a case is governmental corruption — from the Latin word corruptio meaning, in the words of Oxford’s unabridged English dictionary: “to cause to go from a sound into an unsound, impure condition; to make rotten; to destroy or pervert the integrity or fidelity of a person in her or his discharge of duty.”

    Police, like city officials, are governmental agents working in governmental capacities.

    Government by definition is that apparatus or agency which possesses a legal monopoly on the use of force.

    “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

    “In its best state, government is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one” (Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776).

    “Government is solely an instrument or mechanism of appropriation, prohibition, compulsion, and extinction. In the nature of things it can be nothing else, and can operate to no other end…. Seen in this light, government is so horrific — and its actual operations in the past have been so horrible at times — that there is some excuse for a failure to realize its necessity” (Isabel Paterson, The God of the Machine, 1943).


    When you distill the concept of rights down to its essence, you find at the crucible of it all that there’s really only one right, and that one right is the right to your own life.

    All the others — from liberty, to property, to voluntary exchange, to the pursuit of happiness — are an extension of that one.

    Those who hold that life is valuable, hold, by implication, that men ought not to be prevented from carrying on life-sustaining activities. In other words, if it is said to be “right” that they should carry them on, then, by permutation, we get the assertion that they “have a right” to carry them on. Clearly the conception of “natural rights” originates in recognition of the truth that if life is justifiable, there must be a justification for the performance of acts essential to its preservation; and, therefore, a justification for those liberties and claims which make such acts possible (Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State, 1884).

    The crux of human freedom is rights.

    The crux of rights is human individuation and moral agency, which comes from the structure of the human mind, which operates by means of reason, which does not function automatically but requires for each and every individual human-being a continual exertion of will.


    A profound connection exists between the right to life and the right to property. The importance of this connection cannot be overstated. Yet it is precisely this connection that both the left and the right have lost all grasp of — if they ever had it all, which neither side did (and for very specific reasons).

    Quoting the French economist and political philosopher Claude Frédéric Bastiat:

    Each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? … [Human beings] can live and satisfy wants only by ceaseless labor, and by the ceaseless application of our faculties to natural resources. (Claude Frédéric Bastiat, The Law, 1848).

    In the language of American jurisprudence:

    “Property is not only money and other tangible things of value, but also includes any intangible right considered as a source or element of income or wealth: the right and interest which a [hu]man has in lands and chattels to the exclusion of others. It is the right to enjoy and to dispose of certain things in the most absolute manner” [my boldface emphasis].

    This legal definition captures precisely the reason that the crux of freedom and free-exchange is private property: because the right to property is not only the right to the material goods created and purchased — though it is certainly that too — but even more fundamentally, the right to property is the right to the act and the activity which creates those material goods, including the wealth to purchase other material goods which other people have created and then voluntarily put on the market for exchange.

    There is no type of freedom other than the type that voluntary exchange brings about.

    The right to property “is a source or element of wealth … the right to enjoy and to dispose in the most absolute manner,” as the legal definition above well phrases it.

    The right to property is first and foremost the right to an activity — to the human action which creates and produces: the right to property is the right to the process of producing, using, creating, disposing.

    The definitional significance here cannot be emphasized strongly enough.


    The reason that laissez-faire is the proper social system is not because it “works best,” as many nominal defenders of free exchange never tire of telling us. Laissez-faire is proper, rather, because it is just. It is right.

    Laissez-faire is the only politco-economic system that respects and protects the inalienable right to life, liberty, property, free-exchange, and voluntary, consensual human action.

    One must never forget: money is property too.

    Money is the symbol of your labor.

    Money represents wealth.

    The root of real wealth is creation and production, which in turn is human action.


    The concept of rights and the principles behind the concept of rights — including but not limited to the concept of justice— have been under siege since the moment they were first brought into the light, a war waged against an intellectual principle by purveyors of coercion and ministers of force, the facade of whom mutates constantly from year-to-year, decade-to-decade, century-to-century, even while their core remains the exact same: frozen, unchanged, dogmatic.

    The essence of this frozen ideological dogma is the total inability to leave individual human-beings alone — i.e. to refrain from all acts of state coercion and governmental force.

    Yet even in spite of the relentless siege against rights and the principles undergirding the concept of rights, rights have remained remarkably resilient, and will continue to remain so.

    The reason that rights have remained so resilient and unsinkable, even in the face of centuries of ceaseless attack, from all sides, all persuasions, all religions, all dogmas, is that rights are in a certain very real sense, and as the Declaration of Independence perfectly puts it, self-evident.

    We each, as John Locke wrote, “have a property in our own person.”

    We are each individuated and sovereign beings — body and brain alike — and as such we are not the property of any other person or bureaucratic institution.

    I say to you again:

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    Whose permission? And who gives permission to those whose permission the rest of us are acting under? And who gives permission to the people above them and so on?

    This, reader, is the sense in which the concept of rights is self-evident.

    It is also why rights are not only inalienable but also unkillable, eternal.

    Rights are right.


    Rights are right.

    Individual autonomy is the basic principle underpinning the concept of rights, and property is an extension of person, nothing more and nothing less — including, most importantly, the freedom to act, produce, and engage in voluntary exchange.

    There is no type of freedom other than the type that voluntary exchange brings about.

    If you believe in human freedom, you believe perforce — by logical elaboration — in the freedom to exchange voluntarily with anyone who voluntarily, consensually agrees to exchange with you.

    If humans are not allowed to trade freely, humans cannot be called free.

    Human freedom is the absence of state coercion.

    Human freedom is the omission of governmental force.

    No freedom or justice can exist if rights, including property rights, do not exist.

    Rights formally warrant all holders to certain freedom-of-action— specifically, the freedom to act voluntarily.

    Please also take special note of the phrase “freedom to act.”

    This is a pivotal part of the definition of rights since rights do not assure anyone of anything except the freedom to try.

    Rights do not guarantee success.

    Rights do not guarantee a “level playing field.”

    Rights do not guarantee a “level training field.”

    Rights do not guarantee a certain status.

    Rights do not guarantee a certain level of wealth or income.

    Rights guarantee only this: each individual human-being — irrespective of skin-color, race, beauty, sex, sexual-orientation, gender, age, country, color, class, creed, or any other superficial, non-fundamental, non-definitional characteristic — each human being is fully equal before the law and as such possesses the inalienable right to voluntary freedom-of-action, and if the individual does succeed (growing, for example, spectacularly wealthy, or even modestly wealthy or anything in between, through the process of voluntary, consensual exchange), then the fruits of that individual’s success, which is wealth, which is property, are inalienably that person’s: inalienably, by right.

    It is wrong for any person or agency to expropriate it.

    Expropriation is an act of force.


    It is wrong for any person or agency to expropriate it.

    Expropriation, I say again, is an act of force.


    But what is the fundamental stuff of rights? Of what rough matter and material made?

    Of what substance do rights consist?

    Ideas, like thoughts, are real things. Although intangible and immaterial they are the fundamental driving factors in bringing about changes in the realm of tangible and material things (Ludwig Von Mises, Theory and History, 1957).

    Rights are not primaries but second-order principles that derive from something deeper.

    This something is a thing which is very specific and unique to the human species and the human condition. It is the human faculty of choice, which is also called volition.

    The faculty of volition gives rise to individual autonomy, which is another way of describing rights.

    It is in turn the human faculty of reason — also known as the rational faculty — that gives rise to the faculty of volition, which means the human capacity to choose.

    Reason does not function automatically but must be willed. This is so by definition — i.e. by the very nature of what reason is.

    If it operates automatically, it is not reason.

    We each as individual humans live by means of our reason, which is our faculty of rationality, which is our conceptual apparatus, which is our human brain.

    This is the fundamental thing that defines and unites all human-beings — regardless of skin-color, race, beauty, sex, sexual-orientation, gender, age, country, color, class, creed, or any other superficial, non-fundamental, non-definitional characteristic or trait.

    We each individually possess a rational faculty, which is the human faculty of reason, which is the capacity to think, and the activation of which by definition requires an act of individual choice, which is a cognitive act: an act of each individual will.

    This act is each individual’s decision to make, or not.

    This act of will — the will to focus, to keep one’s attention focused against the constant strain of inattention — is an act that cannot be performed by any human or group of humans for any other human individual.

    It cannot.

    It absolutely, unequivocally, and demonstrably cannot.

    This act of will — the act of focusing the attention and the act of maintaining focus — can only be performed by each individual person: each and every one of us individually, continually, and in the privacy of our own individual minds across the long arc of our lives.

    That is individualism.

    Individualism is nothing more and nothing less than this.

    There’s nothing “rugged” about it.

    Neither is there anything antisocial about it nor anti-community nor anti-good-will nor anti-charity nor anti anything remotely like any of this. There never was. Those cliches are facile platitudes — the results of a century-long propaganda campaign consisting of nothing more than frozen collectivist dogma.

    Volition is nothing more or less than the choice to be aware, to pay attention — “the strain of attention and the strain of keeping the attention focused,” as the philosophical psychologist Rollo May so accurately described it — to observe and to process our observations, to consider, deliberate, cogitate, contemplate, reflect, introspect, perpend, ratiocinate: i.e. to think, which means to reason.

    The words “thinking” and “reasoning” are synonymous.

    To think means to contemplate beforehand any future action we may undertake and to introspect afterward upon action already taken.

    “Reason is a faculty for the integration of knowledge that human beings possess,” wrote Spinoza.

    The realities of the mind, though intangible and immaterial, are realities nonetheless.

    “When we analyze human nature with all the tools that modern psychology brings to us … we find ourselves pushed back to the level of attention or inattention as the very seat of free will” (Rollo May, Psychologist, Love and Will, 1969).

    This one thing alone — and nothing but this one thing alone — is the thing that gives rise to the entire field of ethics, which is also called morality, which is also called right and wrong, good and evil, and which in turn gives rise to the fields of both politics and also economics: because human individuals possess the faculty of reason, the activation of which requires an act of individual will, which is also called choice or volition, and which no one individual can perform for another.

    If human individuals did not possess the faculty of reason which gives rise to choice, which gives rise to ethics and morality, which is also called moral agency, the behavior and deeds and acts of all human individuals would be neither ethical nor unethical, neither moral nor immoral but amoral — neither good nor bad but simply existing — just as animals are amoral for precisely this reason.

    The wolf, the pit-bull, the puma, the elephant, the shark, the gorilla, the grizzly bear, the killer whale that attacks and kills and eats the innocent child is not evil, not bad, not immoral. The man or woman who does so is.

    If human behavior were purely instinctive and automatic, as it is with animals, there would be no question of rights — there could not be any — because any action we undertook would be unchosen.

    Ethics and morals are only applicable to beings with the capacity to choose: to choose between the ethical and the unethical, the moral and the immoral, the good and the bad.

    Rights in this very way form the logical link between ethics and politics, between morality and justice.

    This is why Herbert Spencer and a handful of other rarified freethinkers throughout history described rights over and over as “politico-ethical precepts” and justice “the ethics of social life.”

    “[R]ights are but so many separate parts of general human freedom to pursue the objects of life. They indeed are specifications of the law of equal liberty, not products of political will” (Herbert Spencer, Principles of Ethics, 1891).

    Quoting Samuel Adams:

    Among the natural rights are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property. Together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can … rights are [self-]evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.


    There is nothing in nature, neither human nature nor nature apart from humans, that gives government bureaucrats legitimate authority over the person or property of any other human being.

    To say that we have the “right to healthcare,” or the “right to a job,” or the “right to a smoke-free work environment” is the same as saying we have the right to the life, labor, and property of another, which we do not and cannot — by virtue of what rights are.

    Rights by definition preclude any claim to the person, property, or labor of another, even if that person is a doctor, landlord, or teacher.

    To say that humans if they choose do not have the right to open their liquor stores and car lots on Sunday, or to say that humans do not have the right to gamble if they choose, or to say that humans do not have the right to fully determine what’s injected into their bodies — this is all the same thing as saying your life is not yours by right but belongs in some measure to bureaucrats, and that humans to that extent exist only by the permission of these bureaucrats.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    It remains a fact, however, with centuries and centuries and centuries of hard-core history to back it up, that no government and no governmental bureaucracy in the history of humanity has ever proven itself more capable of running each individual’s life more ably than individuals themselves — to say nothing at all about whether it’s right for such governments and their bureaucracies to even attempt such reckless acts of injustice.


    The discovery and elaboration of the principle of rights is one of humanity’s greatest intellectual accomplishments.

    But the elaboration of this principle remains yet unfinished.

    It is our current task to build upon and further elaborate the principle of individual sanctity and individual autonomy — to deepen our understanding of this principle and to more profoundly specify and codify the applications of it, and to identify and further define the facts of reality which give rise to it, including most fundamentally of all the structure of the human mind, which is rational by its very nature and as such operates by means of the human faculty of reason, which is by definition volitional.

    All knowledge is shaped and conditioned by the structure of the human mind.

    In this sense — the literal sense — acquiring knowledge is a continual act of choice.


    Incontrovertibly, the doctrine of determinism is the most fundamental and deeply entrenched of all dogmas opposed to the principle of self-ownership and individual autonomy both of which principles are another way of describing the principle of rights.

    If each individual human-being is not self-determined — as the dogma of determinism believes — it follows then that others may legitimately determine our lives and our selves for the rest of us.

    Each and every one of us are, however, self-determined: no other person or institution or propaganda machine imaginable can ever perform the necessary act of second-by-second focus — the effort of attention — all day every day over the long arc of each and every individual’s life.

    All forms of collectivism are deterministic.

    All forms of determinism are inaccurate.

    They are incorrect.

    They are not right.

    They are wrong.

    Until determinism is thoroughly refuted, the deterministic doctrine, in any of its continuously mutating forms and disguises, will provide the purveyors of force and the ministers of coercion with an excuse to lord over individuals and exert authoritarian command-and-control: it cannot be helped, we’re told, since our individual lives are ultimately determined by vast quantum forces beyond human self-governance, beyond individual autonomy, beyond individual choice, beyond individual control.

    Choice, we’re told, is an illusion — as individual autonomy is also an illusion — and for identical reasons.

    This, I reiterate for emphasis, is the most deeply rooted dogma standing opposed to the principle of individual autonomy and rights. It is, I repeat, called determinism, and it is determinism most fundamentally of all that must be confronted on the battleground of ideas — confronted and defeated, routed and interred back into the state of oblivion from which it was so ignominiously exhumed — uprooted and extirpated: philosophically, intellectually, relentlessly, explicitly.

    And something more to know about this necessary task of uprooting, extirpating, and defeating the deadly dogma of determinism: it is a simple matter to achieve, an elementary task to perform. In fact, it’s child’s play.

    To defeat the dogmatic ideology of determinism, the only thing you have to do is point out repeatedly and without any compromise the incorrigible, fatal rift woven into the very fabric of determinism: a colossal fallacy that makes up the totality of determinism’s structure, a logical error so gigantic and conspicuous that the slightest touch upon it will unravel the entire thing forever — irreparably — reducing every deterministic ideology, no matter the multitude or endlessness of its variations, into a heap of un-put-back-together-again shreds.

    The great insurmountable deterministic fallacy I’m speaking of is this:

    If determinism were accurate and right — which it is not nor could ever be — then no person, no matter what she or he thinks or believes about determinism, would have any choice to believe or disbelieve determinism or anything else because all our thoughts and ideas and convictions and beliefs are determined. They are each and all epistemologically equal and occupy the exact same epistemic status and state: absolute and valid and beyond argument or refutation — no matter what they are, I repeat.

    It’s all determined.

    That is what determinism means.

    We each must believe what we do, and it cannot be helped or changed or argued or challenged or debated or refuted or reconsidered.

    There is no truth or falsehood, no correct or incorrect, no right or wrong, no good or bad, no accurate or inaccurate, to what anyone thinks or believes because no one can think or believe anything other than what everyone does think and believe.

    This is what determinism is.

    Determinism means there is no choice.

    None.

    This is what determinism means.

    It means there is no choice.

    It means every thought and every thing is determined.

    It means there is no choice to the contents of anyone’s mind.

    Determinism says, in absolutely unambiguous terms, that no person can in any way choose what to think or believe but thinks and believes what each person is determined to think and believe — i.e. we each and all must think and believe what we do think and believe because we are determined to do so— and there is thus no way to persuade or reason away from that fact. Even the terms persuade and reason cannot apply and do not apply since these terms also presuppose a process of volition.

    Volition, also known as choice, is by definition fundamentally and entirely incompatible with any and all notions of determinism. They are diametrically contradictory and incompatible.

    All thoughts, ideas, and convictions, then, according to the quasi-ideology of determinism, and the entire contents of each and every individual’s mind, no matter the person, no matter the contents, no matter anything else, are all predetermined.

    They are set.

    They are beyond reason, choice, thought.

    “Reason,” wrote John Milton, “is also choice.”

    As such, all thoughts, convictions, and ideas fall outside any realm of consideration, contemplation, deliberation, argumentation, ratiocination, or persuasion: because there is no way for anyone to think and believe otherwise than what anyone and everyone does think and believe.

    We must think and believe as we are determined to think and believe — all of us.

    This means among many other absurd notions that there can be no such things as right and wrong, which in turns means that there can be no such things as justice and injustice, ajudication, reparation, retribution, crime, punishment, virtue, goodness et ecetera.

    The insurmountable fallacy woven into the fabric of determinism is a logical fallacy of the gravest, most unovercomable sort: it is known as the fallacy of self-contradiction or self-execution or, less frequently, self-exclusion.

    Determinism executes itself.

    It excludes itself at the very outset.

    It is a fallacy woven into the very fabric and meaning of the word determinism.

    It contradicts itself instantaneously, upon the first utterance, and this contradiction cannot be overcome. It represents instant checkmate.

    Determinism checkmates itself.

    Determinism self-refutes.

    Determinism self-executes.

    Determinism is dead before it’s even born — dead on arrival: dead by definition.

    Determinism is wrong.

    Determinism is not right.


    Rights are another one of these principles that virtually everybody thinks he understands, but which in reality only the slimmest fraction of people on planet earth actually do understand and ever actually have understood — lawyers, judges, and legislators among the most ignorant and misguided of all, in my experience, and the most uncomprehending of all by far, with notions of rights sickeningly out-of-whack with reality.

    For anyone who has any doubt at all about that statement, I very cordially invite you to take one brief look at the United Nation’s so-called “Declaration of Human Rights,” which was drafted by precisely such judges, lawyers, and legislators, and observe the sheer amount of expropriation — i.e. acts of state coercion and governmental force — which would be required to fulfill even a fraction of that declaration’s stated aims.

    Better still, however, take one look at the following, which I quote verbatim:

    “Just because you have an ‘individual right’ does not mean that state or local governments cannot constrain the exercise of that right” (Barack Obama, 2008, Philadelphia primary debate).

    Reader, I beseech you now and always to please hear and grasp the following thing I’m about to tell you, and please never ever lose sight of these words — no matter which side of the so-called aisle you place yourself or have ever placed yourself:

    If, as Barack Obama states in his misbegotten quote directly above, “the exercise of your individual right can be constrained [by] state or local governments,” what you exist by in such a scenario is not, I assure you, a right at all but a pure permission: a governmental permission.

    Permissions are the polar opposite of rights.

    Permissions are the polar opposite of rights.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    The only alternative to acting by right is acting by permission.

    Whose permission? And who gives permission to those whose permission the rest of us are acting under? And who gives permission to the people above them and so on?

    Barack Obama’s quote is a perfect compendiation of how poorly understood the profound principle of rights actually is.


    Rights always and only belong to individuals.

    I repeat: Rights always and only belong to individuals.

    By definition — by virtue of what rights are (i.e. that which can be exercised without another’s permission) — rights only belong to individuals.

    There are no such things as “group rights” or “collective rights” or “men’s rights” or “women’s rights” or “black people’s rights” or “white people’s rights” or “straight people’s rights” or “gay rights” or “trans rights” or anything else of this nature.

    There are only rights.

    There are only rights.

    There are only rights.

    And rights apply to all individual human beings.

    Whether the individual human being is straight, gay, trans, male, female, brown, black, white, yellow, all of the above, none of the above, or any cross-combination of any secondary, non-fundamental human characteristic or characteristics, rights by definition always and only apply to individual human beings.

    We are each as individuals defined and united by our human faculty of reason, which is the rational faculty, and the individual, no matter her color, class, gender, sex, sexual-orientation et cetera, is the smallest minority there is.

    The individual is the smallest minority there is.

    It is the human faculty of reason, which is a feature of each and every human individual, that gives rise to the principle of rights.

    It is this faculty and nothing else.


    The term “individual rights,” like the term “human rights,” is in fact a redundancy — a tautology, as the philosophers like to say, or a pleonasm.

    Yet it is a redundancy and pleonasm of dire necessity now — now more than ever before, I say, because the actual meaning of the term “rights” has become so precariously misunderstood and perverted.

    “Only individuals exist,” wrote philosopher and economist Ludwig von Mises. “Collectives consist of nothing but individuals. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual acts … All rights are rights of individuals.”


    Individual rights properly understood are still sometimes known as “negative rights” or “negative liberties.”

    This terminology may at first feel for some to over-complicate the issue, and yet it is a perfectly legitimate description of what real rights actually are, and it is my opinion that when properly understood, this terminology clarifies far more than it complicates:

    The terms “negative rights” and “negative liberties” — they are synonymous — refers to the fact that your “negative rights” impose no obligations or burdens upon others except those of a “negative” type: each individual must abstain from infringing the equal rights of other individuals.

    This is also called compossibility.

    There are no such things as “positive rights.”

    The term “positive rights” is a contradiction. Positive rights (so-called) are non-compossible.

    All legitimate rights are by definition compossible.

    Compossibility is one of the truest gauges for determining whether something is a right or not.

    There is, however, an even better methodology — an absolutely foolproof measure, method, and gauge for determining whether something is a real right or not:

    Your rights, my rights, everyone’s rights stop where another’s begin.

    If you follow that simple principle, and if you remember that property is nothing more than an extension of person — “the right to act and to keep and to dispose” — and if you remember that money is also property, you’ll never confuse the issue of rights or justice, which is the full and legal recognition of negative liberty.


About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning as the constant in my life.

4 Responses and Counting...

  • Dyane 08.03.2022

    I needed this. Thanks

  • This is as brilliant as it is clear.

  • Brilliant because it’s clear.

  • As I’ve said to you befoe, “rights” are spooks and your post here still does not address or refute that.

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