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If rights are “natural,” why are they seldom respected?

In a discussion on another thread, Faithkills and I were discussing the statist religion and various related matters, and we got into the issue of natural rights. He suggested that “We know everyone has [natural rights], [because] we can observe a universal trope that everyone does feel they have a right to life, liberty, and property.”

This got me thinking: If the way “everyone feels” is valid evidence that everyone possesses natural rights, then . . . why isn’t the present state of the world – mostly unfree and getting WORSE – valid evidence that those “natural rights” to life, liberty and property – are not natural at all? By all available evidence, mankind universally submits to Authority. Freedom is NATURAL? Give me a break! SLAVERY is natural! It’s a failing that goes back to Biblical times, when the Jews demanded a king, to be like other nations. If men universally desire freedom, WHY ARE WE SO UNFREE? If “natural rights” are so “natural” and “universal,” then WHY ARE THEY SO RARELY RESPECTED by those we allow to rule us? Look at the damned world!

My own explanation: : Men are born without instinctive knowledge – but they must somehow acquire knowledge which they NEED in order to live and function within their social environment. This is mostly done by receiving instruction from parents, teachers, and various religious “authorities.” Thus are we taught to have respect for “Authority,” from our infancy. We are not raised to be self-responsible, self-motivated, independent-minded people; we are taught to do as we’re told and to believe as we’re told. We are not taught to be free; we are taught to obey.

It was not always thus. Once children were expected to help with household chores and family businesses from a young age, because of an age-old truth:

Parents bring children into the world helpless and ignorant, unable to survive independently. That is a great injury, which the parents are morally bound to rectify by teaching their children how to live in the world as independent, self-respecting, worthwhile adults. That is the ONE paramount debt that all parents owe their children. Once upon a time, children were taught to value hard work and they were taught the morality of love and trade – and to shun coercion and fraud.. No matter their religion, they were taught to live by the Golden Rule.

How times have changed. Nowadays children receive a twelve-year prison sentence to government schools and are FORBIDDEN to learn to work for a living. (Thank labor unions for those wonderful laws that protect them -- er, protect children from "exploitative" “child labor.”) Is it any wonder children no longer believe in freedom or independence? No matter what myths we hear, every smart kid realizes that HE is neither free nor independent.

The problem is: when do modern children become ADULTS? When do they STOP needing to be controlled by someone else’s “Authority?” For more and more people, it seems, the answer is “never.” They accept the authority of religious leaders, to guide their moral choices, and they accept the authority of political leaders to guide their practical choices. The acceptance of “authority” makes us a world of children – a world of SLAVES, to be bossed around and exploited by a few elites who have taken the adult responsibility of “caring for their children” – or domesticating their cattle.

To understand this is to GROW UP.

The purpose of twelve years of Government schooling – twelve years of obedience training and twelve years of indoctrination into the religious cult of Statism – is to ensure that you and your children never do grow up.

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Cyril's picture

Bastiat solved this apparent paradox

Bastiat solved this apparent (only, false-) paradox when he came to define the criteria for identifying legal plunder :

How to Identify Legal Plunder :


But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime [...] If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will *spread*, *multiply*, and *develop* into *a system*.

The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day *delusion* is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder *universal* under the pretense of *organizing* it [...]

(*emphasis* mine)

Bastiat had thus given us the lenses to put on when we don't want to miss to see how our natural rights - which ought to be protected by the Just Law, that ought to be, Justice, and Justice only :


can and are being destroyed, denied by The Law Perverted.

The Law Perverted : when the law stops being justice and justice only and becomes social, economical, etc management instead :


'Hope this helps,

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Game Theory

Hawk Dove
Hawk 20,20 80,40
Dove 40,80 60,60

Hawk / Dove Game

Hawk + Hawk = 20 for each Hawk
Hawk + Dove = 80 for Hawk and 40 for Dove
Dove + Dove = 60 for each Dove

The idea liberty society would be dove/dove. It exists wherever two or more people who are honest and magnanimous voluntarily associate with one another. In abstract it is called the free market.

The Prisoner's Dilemma Applet


The opposite of Liberty or dove/dove is crime made legal or criminal/criminal.

The Prisoner's Dilemma is a way of explaining how willfully destroying other people works when everyone does it, how willfully destroying other people works when only one person does it, two, three, a large percentage, and how, on the other end of the scale, instead of active, willful, destruction, or defection, or non-cooperation, how things work when a few, or many, people choose to cooperate.

The Applet feature manages to explain (possibly) how the concept of Critical Mass works when a certain percentage of those people engaged in commerce, or engaged in mutual destruction, reaches a certain point, a triggering number, and then everyone goes in that direction quickly.

When the percentage of people actively defecting (destroying) is equal to the percentage of people actively cooperating (producing) the whole, or total, or aggregate, measure, is balanced between destruction and production.

That situation of balance is a way to explain the foolishness (on the part of producers, but not foolish on the part of destroyers) of seeking "balance" with criminals. Criminals don't tie their power down with concepts such as honesty. The balance is maintained because the criminals have figured out how to keep the slaves precisely powerful enough to keep on producing, but not too powerful as to be capable of severing connections between producers and criminals.

What do the criminals call it when they say that the Democrats are meeting the Republicans in the middle?

You get your half of the booty?


Because, unfortunately,

Because, unfortunately, tyranny is also "natural"... Hopefully as we evolve it'll change.

The pubpose of our physical existence is courage and respect.

Love emanates, as a result. How does one discover one's courage but from challenge, which is the whole purpose of "the dark side".

If Suppressed, People "Naturally" Fight & Die For These Rights

Because life without others respecting them isn't worth living under any circumstances over the long term although many authoritarian type regimes have tried. People may be partial to giving up some of these rights temporarily in say an emergency or wartime situation, but not over the long term and I think this is why the gov'ts tactic of trying to sell the American people the concept of perpetual war is failing. People are now weary of the Un-Patriotic-Act being interpreted by the Gov't Surveillance State as an authorization to destroy the Bill of Rights. But suppressing human "natural" behavior never works in the long run. I think that's what is meant by "natural" rights as being self evident. These are rights that no one can control, even the most powerful and encroaching force will eventually fall in the face of these rights because people will eventually decide that life is not worth living without them and there is a will to fight to the death for these rights to be respected.
"Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death" - Patrick Henry

-LibertyG ... 2 Corinthians 2:16-17 "To some we are a scent of death leading to death, but to others, a scent of life leading to life. And who is competent for this? For we are not like the many who make a trade(for profit) but as those with sincerity...

If our bodies are natural, why are they so seldom respected?

People smoke, drink, eat junk, sit on their ass and get fat, and otherwise abuse their bodies. Why?

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu


The easiest way to understand natural rights is that they are a collection of activities (live, be free from coercion, pursue property) which, if respected, lead to a better outcome in society. The name "natural" does not indicate that they come about "naturally." Quite the opposite, actually, it is somewhat nonintuitive that living in a society with these rights will be better. That might be one reason they are so little respected.

In addition, the fact that they are rarely respected is, I think, a consequence of the historical circumstance that human society was constructed on the basis of slavery. It takes a lot of work to produce sustenance from natural resources, and it has been historically profitable for some to enslave others to do that work. Slavery is also the foundation upon which most human society is currently built.

It will take a paradigm shift and a lot of education to see natural rights respected, but we're making progress. The "natural" part does imply, I think, that making progress and moving in that direction is unavoidable.

Think of it like this: For a long time, people thought that a king was needed to own everybody and tell them what place to have and what jobs to do in society. It took a long time to figure out that monarchy was a rediculous system. A lot of people in the world still don't have it figured out, but there are a lot of people who have figured out they can live just fine without a king. Thus, it is unavoidable. A natural law: It's better not to have a king. You'll get a better society if you don't allow such idiocy.

Natural rights: It's better to not coerce people and let them act as if they own themselves. You'll get a better society if you don't allow the idiocy of people thinking they can run other peoples' lives.

"Natural" is a problem.

I think maybe the fact that we call them "natural" rights is part of the reason they are not widely respected. They are clearly NOT natural -- they don't just "happen" the way an apple grows on a tree -- they must be actively chosen and and actively defended -- or they will be lost. As they have been. Mis-labeling is most commonly used to disguise an inferior product. A new "brand name" for the rights derived from the nonaggression principle might be helpful, ya think? Self-ownership rights?

Good post, by the way.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

The fear of freedom - Erich Fromm

I agree with you. Freedom costs energy and includes risk. Erich Fromm wrote a great book called 'The fear of freedom' about why many people actually fear freedom (not us of course!).

The basic reason is that freedom requires responsibility. Responsibility requires you to make choices for yourself. To make choices for yourself, you need to know what is best for you and be able to think for yourself as an individual.

This very simple requirement of being responsible is too much for many people. It takes energy, time, thinking, contemplation. Most people don't want to stare away from the TV for long enough to have an original thought, so for them it's much easier if someone else does the thinking for them. This is one reason people look for leaders and look for the President to save the world and solve all their problems. They literally give up their freedom to the collective or a higher up, so that they are exonerated from any consequences or effort and so that they can keep watching TV. They have a fear of freedom. They also have a fear of doing anything to keep that freedom as it would be too much effort. It is easier to be lead, than to lead or live free.

We pay the price of living free because we know the payoff of doing so.

Live free


LittleWing's picture

Escape From Freedom-Erich Fromm

I read this years ago and highly recommend it.


If humanity cannot live with the dangers and responsibilities inherent in freedom, it will probably turn to authoritarianism. This is the central idea of Escape from Freedom, a landmark work by one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time, and a book that is as timely now as when first published in 1941. Few books have thrown such light upon the forces that shape modern society or penetrated so deeply into the causes of authoritarian systems. If the rise of democracy set some people free, at the same time it gave birth to a society in which the individual feels alienated and dehumanized. Using the insights of psychoanalysis as probing agents, Fromm’s work analyzes the illness of contemporary civilization as witnessed by its willingness to submit to totalitarian rule.

If Wars Can Be Started by Lies, They Can Be Stopped By Truth.


Just a thought, since we evolved from animals, maybe it's still the old instincts in some people to submit to the Alphas?
I have two sons, both of them have different personalities and preferred methods of approaching things, one thing they have in common is the self ownership, my guess they still have it because i've SPARED the rod and SAVED the child.
All of you religion worshipers, i pose a question to you, if we are the children of god and god doesn't make mistakes, than why would you try to beat into submission anyone who opposes your views, be it physically, your children, or others through the government?

Power and greed are also natural

In the law of the Jungle dictionary, a right is only what you individualy can defend.

Its also natural for cowards to group up, gain power and become bulllies.

Freedom is just another word, when you have nothing left to loose.

From that Texan, Janis J.


So many things are "natural"

that it's kinda pointless to single out one little opinion as being a "natural right" or a "natural law," don't you think? The power to CHOOSE ones moral code is what's natural to us -- not any particular choice.

And you mis-quote Janis. It's "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

That OTHER Texan, actually.

The Texan being misquoted was Kris Kristofferson, actually. And that's good enough for me. Good enough for me and Bobby McGee.

And "natural" indeed is an almost useless word in this context. As a natural phenomenon, man and all his works are necessarily natural, as natural as bee hives and beaver dams. This includes such inventions of human intelligence as natural rights and prime numbers. They exist both as a matter of definition and of application. Prime numbers exist even if one doesn't understand them, and human rights exist even if one doesn't realize it. Stripped of their mystical baggage (contra "endowed by their creator"), human rights exist because human beings (or other as yet undiscovered sapient entities) have a natural interest in maximizing their safety, property, and options, and a society with a well-ordered respect for such principles as property, privacy, and self-preservation tends to foster that. Societies that restrict rights too severely tend to starve to death (see Lenin's Soviet Union or Kim's North Korea), and societies which conflate rights so expansively as to pretend that they imply a right to free stuff tend to commit violent suicide (see Marat's France or Bushbamaton's Amerika).

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
to be continued

Lots of good points, Gene,

but your main one doesn't work. Rights are derivatives of morality, and do not transcend it. Whatever a person believes "is right" establishes -- in his mind -- what "rights" he and other people possess. That, and nothing more, is the source of "rights."

Morality, the source of our rights, only happens in one place: inside individual minds. It is therefore subjective. Furthermore, morality is not innate; it must be understood, chosen, and applied by each individual. That makes the idea of any "universal" morality a total absurdity. And THAT means the idea of universal ("natural") human rights is likewise absurd.

You can argue -- and I would agree with you -- that some moral systems (notably those that encompass the NAP or Golden Rule) result in views of "rights" which are more harmonious and productive than systems which sanction predatory or parasitical behavior. There very likely IS an "optimal" moral system on which you and I, at least, could agree. But "optimal" does not equal "universal" or "natural." As long as people have free will, some of them WILL make moral choices with which others disagree. "Universal" ain't happening.

Morality is the realm of individual choice and belief -- it is not necessarily, (unfortunately,) the realm of reason and logic. To persuade other people that one particular moral view is superior to others will require something more than mislabeling it "natural."

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

ChristianAnarchist's picture

Rights are created, by our

Rights are created, by our "Creator" (however you care to define that term). Although rights are universal, the evil that exists in the hearts of man is also universal and so we have "violations" of those rights on a grand scale. The reason that rights are so seldom respected is because men have evil hearts.

Beware the cult of "government"...

Sonmi 541: "Truth is singular. Its "versions" are mistruths."

If the Earth is round...

..why was it so seldom believed?

Fortunately, people have the ability to learn (about their rights and about celestial mechanics). In fact, reality generally rewards people's learning, even as the state (and other bullies) endeavors to invert it, pervert it, and subvert it.

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
to be continued

You imply

that "natural rights" are like a "law of nature," and therefore exist whether men recognize them or not. How's that again? Rights are a moral IDEA, with no physical existence outside of the human mind. If no one has the idea, the idea does not exist.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Rights ARE a moral idea...

..with no PHYSICAL existence, yet they exist, as do prime numbers, in the minds of those who understand them, and they await, as undiscovered relationships, for those with the wit to pursue them. There is nothing "unnatural" about artifice.

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
to be continued

If there was no government

If there was no government telling us what our rights are, like you cannot kill another person or you will go to jail, we would on our own figure out what our natural rights are and we would also respect them, like you cannot kill another person or you may die yourself. It's pretty simple really. Governments and kings skew the concepts of rights to fit their own needs and that's why we don't respect them.

It is better to look dumb and not be, than to look smart and not be.

Is the natural right to trespass a natural wrong?

Is the natural right to trespass a natural wrong?

I guess the whole idea of natural rights

is naturally wrong.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

I am not sure what you mean ...

I know what I was thinking when I wrote the above comment but I do not know what your response means.

Since you did comment, I had a point of clarification regarding the OP:

"Parents bring children into the world helpless and ignorant, unable to survive independently. That is a great injury ... "

Is abortion justified on the grounds it prevents injury?

Abortion and rights

1. What I meant by saying that the idea of natrual rights is naturally wrong: Rights Are Santa Claus.

2. The question of abortion's justification is a moral issue, depending on when a fetus is believed to become an independent human being with "rights" which must be respected. Different moral systems have different answers to that question. The moral system of statism evidently holds that human beings only acquire true rights (i.e. not to be injured by some State Authority,) when they hold some State office. Abortion is therefore allowable, until some State Authority sees fit to proscribe it.

Other moral systems have tougher problems of conscience on the abortion issue, and even libertarians are not in agreement. Personally, I would say abortion is certainly justified if it prevents injury -- to the mother. I suppose it might also be justified if it were known that a fetus was badly deformed or mentally damaged, and might never become an independent human being. But your question, as to whether abortion could be justified to avoid the injury of being made helpless (a basic principle of common law torts) -- I wouldn't consider that a justification myself, but that's a moral position others may not share. Let the mommas decide for themselves.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition by Larken Rose

Pretty Much

More people who are trying to learn greater responsibility, self reliance, self control, compassion, true faith, honor, humility, wisdom, and prudence are always extremely welcome. None of us will ever be perfect but there is no reason not to strive for perfection because its the striving that matters because it is what defines.

Natural rights are just

Natural rights are just semantics. No one has the right to initiate or threaten violence against another person or his property. This applies to groups as well. It's common sense and in the vast majority of human interaction, this principle is strictly adhered to without any ordering of the actors involved. However, this principle seems to be forsaken within the realm of state activity, of ALL state activity. Sure, some petty thieves might be bad and initiate violence on a handful of occasions, but the state is in a situation of constant perpetual aggression, without which it could not sustain itself. This corruption on the state level tends to permeate into the masses at a rate higher than it otherwise would in a society that did not try to legitimize violations of the non-aggression principle.

"Natural rights" are just a way of putting into words a complex truth of reality.

"Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito."

(psst. the enlightenment was

(psst. the enlightenment was full of sh1t.)

Rights are not natural

If anything is natural to human beings, I would say it's the human natural, which is corrupt, sinful, selfish, evil, and anti-God. We lost all our rights when we sinned. And we are under the authority of death, sinful nature and Satan. Unless one is saved and brought into the Kingdom of Light, there's no rights whatsoever. So we have to understand the nature of things in order for us to understand why people do things. So it should not be a surprise to us that sinful humans sin! And sinful humans are slaves to sin, to self, to Satan and eventually to death!