36 votes

I never signed up for the KKK

Imagine that your grandparents signed a membership contract to be members of the Ku Klux Klan. According to the contract, they were under the obligation to pay monthly membership fees, and if they did not pay, the contract provided penalties that would be incurred. Now suppose, this contract had the audacity to attempt to obligate your grandparents' descendents - you and everyone in your family. How would you react if the KKK started levying penalties against YOU because you hadn't paid the required dues that your grandparents said you would? Under contract law, would that contract bind you?

The fact of the matter is that contracts can only serve to bind the people that sign them. Descendents cannot be obligated to fulfill the contracts of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and so on.

Did you ever sign a contact to be part of the club "We the People of the united States of America"? Then under law, why are you obligated to pay membership fees? Does being born in a certain location negate the need for your signature to be contractually obligated to some entity calling itself the "government of the united States"?

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Consider this my counter-post

Consider this my counter-post... hopefully the discussion continues.

The Real Anatomy of Political "Rights"

interesting perspective--


My concern is that even if it is not legal, the KKK can retaliate (or the government)

it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Thomas Paine touched on this

Thomas Paine touched on this quite concisely. I have his collected writings so I'm not exactly sure which it came from, but he made a great argument.

I'd like to hear about it...

can you refer me somewhere? Are any of the writings available online? What are some titles?

Thanks ahead of time.


I found this:

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.

Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not without manifest injustice to their children say “that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours forever.” Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils which when once established is not easily removed: many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest. [emphasis added]

not sure if french revolution

not sure if french revolution fan boy thomas paine ever touched on this subject, but if he did, this excerpt has nothing to do with it.

It has everything to do with

It has everything to do with it. Have you read it?

yes it has to do with the

yes it has to do with the hereditary right of rulers or classes in the state, it hasn't got anything to do with the validity of laws, simply because we didn't sign up for them. did YOU read it?

Good find! That's exactly

Good find! That's exactly what I was referring to.

The problem with “I didn’t

The problem with “I didn’t sign this contract” type argument is its heavy stress on defining pretty much everything in terms of a contract; it is the hogwash of the social contract. Unfortunately, many who agree that the social contract is bogus carry the assumption that if only everyone did agree all would be fine. But this has the further assumption that the social contract is valid to begin with. It is not. No society has ever had such an arrangement. The social contract was and is a fiction. You are born into a preexisting society, with certain rules, customs, and standards. I never agreed to my parents. I never agreed to the distribution of property that existed when I was born. I never agreed to the rules of grammar. In fact, there are a host of examples one does not agree to and yet is pervasive.

Of course, a standard reply could say that the state uses force, through taxation, and thus is different in most respects. But this too is not going to work. Imagine being born into a home owner’s association. You didn’t agree to their rules and stipulations. You are free to leave, when of age, if you like.

The point is that using this line of argument gets you nowhere because it is based on faulty history and anthropology.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality. - John Randolph of Roanoke

And where

free to go where? 300 million people.

Just want what seems to be missing, Truth and Justice for ALL
What is fraud except creating “value” from nothing and passing it off as something?

well put. glad to see i'm not

well put. glad to see i'm not the only one capable of thinking my way out of a wet paper bag. and cool sig line.

With respect to the home owner's association...

Presumably a stipulation of the contract is that the association maintains ownership of the property in the sense that if the contract is broken the tenant may be evicted. If the person cannot be evicted, then the agreement becomes meaningless.

For instance, suppose my parents owned such a home. They had possession of the deed, and no liens existed against the property. Upon their departure, the house is inherited by me. I decide to move into the house. When I arrive, a representative from the home owner's association shows up and begins telling me the "rules" that they wish me to abide by. I tell the fellow to go to hell. He says, "But, your parents signed a contract that bound them to these rules." Again, I tell him to go to hell since I never signed a contract and don't intend to. Can they evict me from a property that I legally own? Certainly, they can complain and try to take legal action against me, but not having personally signed a contract and since I am the rightful deed-holding owner of the property - not the association - I doubt they would come out on top.

This holds for government as well. Suppose I own property in the US, and I decide to denounce my citizenship. Should my property be seized? Are non-citizens forbidden from owning property? Should I be deported? Percentage wise, the government rarely deports anyone whether they should be or not.

Of course, I realize that no person actually owns property under the current system since, if one doesn't pay rent (property tax) to the government, it will be seized. However, is that authority legitimate. I never signed my name to contract agreeing me to that either.

You make good points. But

You make good points. But this all depends on the rules of the association, rules which may vary depending on which association you are under. If the home owner’s association has a rule that such property is owned by the home owner’s association, and those now residing in a unit are just tenants, then this changes nothing if the child of the tenants retorts, “but I never agreed to this!” What the child should do is try to change the rules which govern this association or, as a last resort, leave. Staying with the analogy, even assuming there was such an original social contract, you are still born into this arrangement after the fact, with its rules and stipulations. This does not mean it must be this way; things can change.

The point is that you are born into a pre-existing set of arrangements. The fact that you personally didn't sign up doesn't change the fact that you nonetheless, through your parents, were born into such an arrangement. What can change are the rules which govern such arrangements.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality. - John Randolph of Roanoke

Sounds like a caste system to me

whereby the slaves should just "deal with it." Your parents were slaves and so are you. I think that notion goes completely against the existence of inalienable rights.

If the home owner's association owned the property, they would be within their rights to expel whomever they wished unless a contractual arrangement prevented them from doing so.

Your whole argument rests on

Your whole argument rests on questioning binding rules that you didn’t personally sign up for. But I never signed up for a host of things, for example, the distribution of property when I was born, my parents, the use of English grammar, the conventions on the road, etc. Whether such a society is good or bad, someone claiming they never agreed to this arraignment is no argument against it at all. Instead, one has to argue why such an arrangement is good or bad, and then try to change the rules.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality. - John Randolph of Roanoke

No one is holding a gun to my head forcing me to speak English

while the same is not true of taxes.

good point.

I think the laws to which you are subject and never consented are different than the societal customs, because at the end of the day societal customs are optional while laws aren't.

I'm interested to hear what you propose. Are you saying that every person needs to sign (agree to) every law, maybe when they become 18? How would you deal with people that refuse to sign? After all, that's a bit of a paradox because any punishment they might receive was also never agreed to by them.

Come to think of it, I never signed any agreement saying I would agree to spend time in prison if I murder you...

Interesting discussion, but I'd like to actually hear some proposals.

There is a natural right to self defense while

there is no natural right to pillage the fruits of another's labor.

Natural rights are those that pre-existed the institution of government. People have a right to defend themselves, their property, and be critical of whatever they disagree with. Governments were instituted to protect these rights.

So, if you attempt to kill me, I will defend myself and do my best to inflict consequences upon you. The same holds for theft.

However, there has never been and never will be a right to steal from (tax) people for the pleasure of others (or whatever reason).

your first two sentences

your first two sentences blatantly contradict one another.

people naturally pillaged the fruits of each others labor regularly prior to the institution of government. nature did not seem to mind.

when you say someone has a right to do something you are making a moral assertion. i can say "people have a right to feed their children, even if they have to steal" or "people have a right to an equal share of the earths fruits" - these are just assertions.

you're just making assertions and since you have no basis for them you attribute them to nature, who is unable to defend herself from your false attributions.

any rights people have are simply claims they asserted, and backed up by establishing institutions capable of enforcing or defending those claims. the right to self defense extends beyond the individual's right; he has the right to join others in mutual defense.

in fact he must, since others can form groups for mutual offense. mutual defense against those who won't abide by the law is called government, law, justice, etc. now, if this group holds an area of land over which it exercises jurisdiction, it can make everyone there abide by the rules and contribute to the funding of their enforcement.

the example i introduced below, and others have reiterated, of an analogy to a homeowners cooperative or association, is clear illustration of the dynamic in play on a small voluntary scale. even if it begins with just voluntary individuals, the nature of reality is that the voluntary signatories are replaced by their children on the territory, and they are born under submission to the rules. they never agreed; but the group still has the right to enforce its customary rules and dues on all on the territory.

I'm in good company:

Thomas Jefferson:

"Forty years [after a] Constitution... was formed,... two-thirds of the adults then living are... dead. Have, then, the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two-thirds who with themselves compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing, and nothing can not own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident."

"A generation may bind itself as long as its majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man."

"The generations of men may be considered as bodies or corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding generation free and unencumbered and so on successively from one generation to another forever. We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country."

"...it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct."

Source 1

Source 2

Judge Napolitano:

John Locke:

"Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another."

"And that all men may be restrained from invading others rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is, in that state, put into every man's hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation: for the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world 'be in vain, if there were no body that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. And if any one in the state of nature may punish another for any evil he has done, every one may do so: for in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, every one must needs have a right to do."


James Madison:

"The rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted."

"The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right."

There are others.

the quotes you cite don't

the quotes you cite don't support your argument. they say any generation can remake institutions according to their will. it doesn't say no one has to follow laws they didn't agree to at birth. if they believed that, i dont think they would have passed a constitution, began a revolutionary war, drafted soldiers, and so on. to paint them as anarchists is so silly.

natural rights was fine rhetoric but never much more than that.

of course, your appeal to authority didn't address any of my points. thats kewl i guess.

What points? You've never made any...

Stating that, "natural rights was fine rhetoric but never much more than that," is denying the basis for the Declaration of Independence and the very foundation upon which the original constitution stands. Denying that natural rights exist is in line with stating that the Bill of Rights should be abandoned. If you don't see that, you're silly.

Further, if you carry the logic of Jefferson to its conclusion, then one must arrive at my original argument. In the letter (to Madison) which I quoted, Jefferson posited the hypothetical scenario where the "majority" was all born at once. Using this basis along with mortality statistics that existed at the time, that "majority" would end up being replaced every 19 years. Thus, he suggested that the form of government be up to reform by the new "majority" at the end of that time. However, in reality, no such hypothetical situation exists. There will never be a generation born all at the same instant and die at the same instant. To the contrary, people die and people reach the age of consent continuously - not every 19 years but daily. Therefore, if you were to extrapolate to the real world, the government should be reformed on a daily cycle since the passing majority of which the dieing people were part of is changing daily.

The basis of Jefferson's and my argument are the same, the successive generations cannot bind each other.

watch natural rights get

watch natural rights get shredded and unable to defend themselves on mises.org. http://mises.org/community/forums/p/5209/70081.aspx

Grasping at straws now...

The troll argument you have referenced suggests that since one may be unable to defend his/her natural rights in an anarchist society that natural rights do not exist at all. That is fallacious. That's analogous to saying that your right to defend your property does not exist in the case that your defense fails. This right extends to the defense of a state. So, let's consider that example. Suppose that China attacks the US with overwhelming force such that the US falls. Did the US not have a right to defend itself? Did property rights not exist simply because the state was unable to successfully defend them? The argument is bunk and would have been handily defeated had I been on that particular forum at the time.

The existence of natural rights does not forbid the possibility that natural rights may be violated.

Like I said, you're grasping at straws now, and it shows.

rights are just claims to x

rights are just claims to x political power or freedom, and can only be granted by persuading the collective of its interest in granting that power or freedom. no individual has the force to enforce any political claim.

power and freedom have concrete meaning in the real world. power is what you can control, freedom is the absence of interference or control over yourself. a right is only a claim to this or that political relation between yourself and the rest of society. any such claim can only be upheld by force.

the way your claims become politically real is if you can persuade others to defend them along with you, with force if necessary. might is right changes into, law is right. the might of mutual defense of the legally established political or legal relationships, between members of society.

these arrangements will tend to follow the actual power distribution of individuals and classes, so that your actual level of power and influence will be reflected in your political rights.

your argument, or appeal, for your 'rights' to society will have to be an appeal to their moral beliefs, their interests in common with yours, or their interests in not 'treading' on your claimed rights.

therefore they have to be reasonable, foremost, in that they make sense to other people. if you make crazy claims and your moral or ethical arguments are easily refutable, they won't carry weight and will fail to persuade sufficient members of society to join in defending your claims (rights).

secondly, they can't infringe on the basic interests of others, or they won't find any supporters.

finally, your appeal needs to be broad enough so that the collective strength of all who subscribe to put forward the same claims actually have sufficient social, economic, and physical force to uphold the claims against the other segments of society and opponents of your claims.

otherwise, you're just pissing in the wind.

I assume you have no legitimate reply to this BILL3


In efforts to come out on top, you're cutting off your nose...

to spite your face.

How can you be a libertarian if you don't believe in individual liberty?

Your premise that "might is right" is fallacious.

Using your line of reasoning, the Jews did not have their rights violated since the "collective" of which they were a member did not grant them the right to life. Therefore, what the Nazis did was justified.

The Native Americans did not have their rights violated either. Since the immigrants from Europe possessed more might, the property rights of Native Americans did not exist. Therefore, the immigrants were justified since those rights never existed.

Further, the slaves did not have their rights violated. Since their modes of defense were inferior, they had no right to liberty. Thus, slaveholders were not in the wrong since, by your argument, they had no rights to begin with.

Just because rights are violated - even in perpetuity - does not mean that they do not exist.

Maybe you should've picked a different political philosophy if you actually believe that what the "collective" does by majority decree or by indefensible force is automatically justified. That concept certainly doesn't have anything in common with libertarianism.

I don't disagree with any of that...

But this has nothing to do with your original post. Your original post argues you can't force people to live up to standards or contracts to which they never agreed.

I'm saying there are lots of standards to which we would hold each other, to which we never agreed. I never agreed not to kill you and you never agreed not to kill me, but we would both still expect the other not to try, and we would both find it within our rights to defend ourselves if the other did try.

Whether or not the agreement has been previously agreed to by all parties is not the key point. People shouldn't be forced to pay taxes, NOT because they never agreed to, but because it's WRONG to force people to pay taxes. Likewise, people shouldn't commit murder, not because they ever agreed not to, but because it's WRONG to commit murder.

You can't possibly expect a system of law to function if every member has to agree to that system of laws in order for those laws to take effect on them. That defeats the whole point of laws in the first place.