James Hall, From the Left
It's interesting that brother SARTRE should rely on the philosopher John
Locke to make his argument for natural rights. As an empiricist, Locke believed in the innate goodness of human beings,
born with a mind he called "tabula rasa" or a clean slate. As a Calvinist, SARTRE believes that humans are born to sin,
with the Mark of Cain already on them.
Moreover, Locke did not dispute the utility of government, as does our
resident libertarian/anarchist. He successfully opposed the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings and the ideal of Kingly
government argued by the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, but transferred the notion of sovereignty from the King to the
people, and it was upon this principle that the American founders based their own notion of a government of the people, by
the people, and for the people. Locke also believed strongly in majority rule reflecting the will of the nation, not
something our SARTRE thinks too highly of, since that majority will is often at loggerheads with his own will.
Yes, Mr. Locke believed in natural, inalienable rights. But what
was the guarantor of these rights? Not the weak notion of 'man's duty to his neighbor' that SARTRE offers, but the people's
government. Locke and the founding fathers understood clearly that while rights might be natural, their defense must
be public and communal.
Let's examine SARTRE's idea of natural rights more closely. In
a state of nature there exist no natural rights but the right to survive by tooth and claw. When prehistoric Ugga met
Wugga, they did not debate each other's right to a carcass but had it out with clubs, and it was the right of the strongest
and most skilled to take what was wanted. Early history was little different, with the strong preying on the weak and
no mention of human rights, innate or otherwise.
The Greeks discovered the idea of "natural law" by which they meant something
akin to the laws of human nature or a rational order discoverable, not invented, and universal in its nature--a law transcending
culture. The Romans and Christians adopted and advanced these ideas. But the notion of " natural rights" as opposed
to "natural laws" was still lacking in the Roman Empire and the Kingdoms of the Middle Ages and remained so until put together
by Locke and his ideological opponent, Thomas Hobbes.
That's right--it was Hobbes who advanced the idea of a social contract.
It was a theoretical agreement made between people looking for security from the barbarities of a state of nature and a "strong
man" who would protect them from each other, enabling them to live in security. Hobbe's social contract was designed
to be a secular alternative to the Divine Right of Kings, but Locke found in it a way to legitimize democratic government.
The social contract he espoused was made by the people with themselves, to establish and form their own nation, and it was
this contract that was finally made real by the founding fathers--an agreement with the people of this nation to defend their
For Locke, therefore, it is within a social contract establishing a democratic
government that "inalienable rights" are guaranteed. Individuals might "possess" rights in a state of nature, but there was
no guarantee that Ugga's rights would ever be respected by Wugga, or vice versa. It takes a community of individuals
agreeing to recognize and defend natural rights to make those rights possible--unless one is Robinson Crusoe residing on his
Thus for SARTRE, liking Locke is a double-edged sword. Locke introduces
the idea of "natural rights," but they are only guaranteed by government. Locke promotes the idea that a corrupt government
can be overthrown by its citizens, but thought that governments ought to be responsive to the will of the majority of those
citizens. For a man who thinks in terms of Calvin's Elect, this is disappointing news indeed.
SARTRE tells us that "if 'natural rights' exist, they need to be respected
by others. Exactly how will this come about? Will Ugga and Wugga listen patiently to SARTRE as he explains to
them what rights they have? Will they then nod their heads and wander off amiably? Experience tells us that they
will not. SARTRE hates coercion--we all do when we're the one being coerced--but how do you get human beings to honor
the rights and liberties of others without resorting to some form of coercion?
The question is not about whether or not we'll need to coerce others
to maintain the rights of all, but how to do so justly, according to agreed-upon standards. There will be disputes over
what rights are inalienable, and what to do when rights clash with each other, as they sometimes do. Locke argued for
three basic rights--the right of life, liberty, and property. The founding fathers, after much internal debate, postulated
the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, leaving out any explicit mention of property. After more
argument, the original rights specified in the Constitution weren't enough for many people, and a bill of ten more rights
was appended to the document.
The debate over rights continues, with people arguing for a right to
privacy, a right to life before birth, and whether rights can be limited by circumstance or not. Do we leave each man
to determine his own rights--something that might put us back into the state of raw nature--or do we, as a community of individuals
living together, form a polity to determine among ourselves what these rights are? Do we leave each man to defend his
own rights--again, something that puts us back in the state of nature--or do we as a community band together to enforce and
defend all agreed-upon rights?
SARTRE would hope that everyone would "respect" rights without any form
of coercion. "One's duty to one's neighbor" would suffice for him. But experience teaches us that Ugga attacks
Wugga every time, or vice versa, and that rights mean nothing to them without some form of law to guard those rights--and
some form of authority to enforce that law. The founding fathers were aware of this, and chose neither anarchy nor the
authority of the Crown, but the authority of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Without the community determining and defending its values, the individual
can have no liberty for himself. Locke knew this, the founding fathers knew this, but SARTRE has not yet learned it.
James Hall, From the Left
Rights are the province of all human beings. Natural rights stem from
the reality that a person exists. In the writings of the British Empiricist John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding and Two Treats of Government,
he argues that natural law and natural rights are inherent to man's being. By contrast Thomas Hobbs in his work, Leviathan, viewed the nature of man is not endowed with intrinsic
rights that could be based upon natural law, but rights are a creation of state power.
These two diametrically opposite viewpoints have profound implication.
Our analysis rests upon an accepted understanding of man's nature. If you grant that man is created and unique as a human,
we may be able to intelligently discuss the role of society and government. But if you conclude that man is a result of an
environmental progression, not much different from other animals, your raison d'etre of government will require adoption
of the Hobbesian judgment.
Statist are devoted worshipers of the Leviathan. They reject inborn human
rights. But for those who cherish the Judeo-Christian tradition of Western Civilization and respect the dignity in every human
being, the heritage of Locke is wisdom - for all ages.
Rights only reside in the individual. Since each single human being is
separate from all others; community, society or government are quite different. Absent from any other person or group of people,
the singular individual retains all their natural rights. Either natural rights exist in each person or they exist in none.
We all share the same nature. If rights are innate we only need to define what they are and their characteristics. But that
task will be left for another time.
What is more important is to dispel the erroneous notion that rights
are attributes of any abstract form of organization. As basic as the family structure is, it does not possess any natural
rights. The right stays within each individual in the family unit. A community is nothing more than a group of people, while
society is the total of social relations among communities and all individuals. Government is defined as the control and administration
of public policy in a political unit. There are no natural rights endowed, inherent and intrinsic within a community, society
and certainly not in an organization like civil government, that is not human.
Individuals have responsibilities towards other human beings. But what
is the legitimate rationale for conferring a duty upon an individual for recognizing rights of entities that construct social
society, when no such right exists? Schemes of establishing relationships of benefit for participating parties, deserve cooperation
based upon free consent. However, there is no obligation that an individual needs to bear if they reject the demands that
these contrived entities seek to impose. Government on the other hand is based upon the axiom that coercion is required and
lawful, for forced compliance. The State is not a natural being, but is the result of competing interests. Different interests
can be as simple as that of one person with another. Factions can share mutual appeals, or may differ profoundly. But factions
don't have rights, just interests of perceived benefit or discord.
Opponents of human dignity offer up the notion that any society has a
charge to require and conform behavior, to the greatest good for the most people. They claim that humanity will be protected
and that society will display empathy, when the rights of the many are secured, even at the loss of the rights of the few.
Attribution that the many have a joint singular right, while the individual must sacrifice their own, is ludicrous. The right
resides ONLY within their own person, of each individual.
Responsibilities are essential to proper social relationships of the
individual with his neighbor. But the rightful authority for imposing acceptable conduct upon an unwilling individual behavior
must stem from the consent of that individual in the arbitration of competing interests. The government does not have their
own right of compulsion. Their willingness to impose force to compel compliance is the exploitive method practiced by all
governments. The fact that rights are non existent in the entity of any State is totally ignored by those who seek to
direct the mechanism of conformity.
Political debates always are reducible to conflicting interests. The
codification of willful consensus into laws seems appropriate. However, in practice the State abandons their proper role as
an organizational steward of functions and becomes the Leviathan of Hobbs. Citizens have duties only to their neighbor. One
of those responsibilities is to prevent their government from arbitrary administration. The only purpose of government is
to serve the interests of citizens. The reality and horror of the State is that controlling individuals is the sad record
of virtually every government. The perversion that falsely assumes a living organism status for government, seems to prove
Hobbs correct. But if that was the final disposition, human dignity could not exist.
The Locke standpoint has seldom been employed in history. The creation
of our country was a noble experiment, that has failed. Hobbs is now embodied, in the cowards and miserable excuses that profess
to be loyal Americans. They eagerly petition their government to gauge what rights remain, for them to further lose. Those
who defend our natural rights are willing to bear the consequences of a tyrant who deceitfully claims to dispense our rights.
It is the price we pay to follow Locke. Only those who relinquish their own dignity, serve the Leviathan.
James Hall aka SARTRE
Before ecstasy and glee takes over the our Statist, his double edged
sword requires we all join him in sacrificial seppuku. James' devotion to the State rests upon a foundation of sand - a guarantee
by government. Folks no government can guarantee Liberty, and especially for all its people. It is a myth that one can bond
with any state through a social contract and certainly is a fantasy to think that any government will serve the "natural rights"
of individuals. Government has its own nature, one of coercion. The guarantee that is offered up as protection for "inalienable
rights", is really a compulsion to rule as an absolute king.
If "natural rights" exist and are real, they need to be respected by
all others. That means that the Liberty of each person is the fulfillment of our "inalienable rights". To conclude that society
has emerged from a state of nature, where power rules, to a sophisticated and benevolent government where authority reigns
for the good of all, misses the entire point. The era of the "Enlightenment" understood the character of tyrannical rulers
better than our modern counterparts. Once again the 'bad seed' falsely implies that SARTRE favors any Elect Elite. Calvin
understood the nature of man better than those who claim that government can and will guarantee the "natural rights" for all
For James - Ugga must become just like Wugga, and the government will
enforce that this maturation takes place according to their precepts. Guarantees are illusions! Liberty is real. For the prize
to be attained, individuals must overcome James' patron and all those who think like a godfather. Our social contract requires
freedom from government guarantees.
James Hall - 'The Right'