Many anarchists predicate their notion of anarchy on the concept of rights. However, “right” is a poorly defined term. Is it reasonable to rely on rights?
It seems reasonable to address rights when discussing government, doesn’t it? We all have various rights. Or do we?
What are Rights?
What is a right? Why does a right even matter? When using such a vague term as the foundation for an entire socioeconomic theory, doesn’t that simply make the entire theory that much more vulnerable to attack?
As an example, let’s consider ownership rights. Who has the right to property? Is it the person who currently holds the property? Is it the person who first owned it? If it’s the former, then theft makes “right.” If it’s the latter then we would have to deal with the difficult of telling who first owned the property.
In addition, can we ensure that the rights of every person are protected? If not, how do we determine the hierarchy of rights? Which right matters more? Whose rights matter more?
Is it even necessary to rely on the concept of rights when addressing these matters? The answer is no. The discussion of rights isn’t necessary in order to discuss anarchy. We can discuss government and economics from a purely scientific point of view and rely on historical evidence. We can address how governments impact markets and impact various aspects of life.
Science, and history, alone can address why governments are not needed and why they result in negative outcomes in the long run. So while rights provide us with interesting discussions on how we handle our affairs in life, perhaps we should rely less on these ideas when arguing for limited governemnt or an end to government.
1. Economy and Government: an Evolutionary Perspective (Politicoid)