Monday, December 17, 2018

On Natural Rights and Plutocracy

by Agit8r (writer), Spokane, WA, August 14, 2012

Every speech from the Romney/Ryan campaign mentions the rights that mankind is endowed with by their Creator--an argument that really doesn't help their case!

"MANKIND being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance: the distinctions of rich and poor may in a great measure be accounted for"

-- Thomas Paine; from Common Sense (1776)

The plutocratic camp would have us believe that public good can only trickle down from the top of the hierarchical pyramid. And to back up this narrative, they defame our country's founder by falsely implicating them in their twisted notion of divine right. It is beyond question that the Declaration of Independence states that certain inalienable rights are endowed by a Creator. And it also states that AMONG these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But it is no less than absolute dishonesty to omit the context "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Indeed 49 of the 50 states specifically attribute the source of political power to the people, without whose vigilant efforts at self-government no rights could be secured. As John Locke (upon whose wisdom the Declaration was concieved) put it: "where there is no law, there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where there is no law: but freedom is not, as we are told, a liberty for every man to do what he lists... for who could be free, when every other man's humour might domineer over him?" (from Second Treatise of Civil Government, CHAP. VI.). So if we were to abolish government, or to leave it "small enough to drown in a bathtub" (in other words, small enough to ONLY protect those whose humour would domineer over us) there could be no true liberty for all.

Of course those who desire such an outcome have no use for truth. If they did, they would never twist the words of men who thought so much differently from them into the opposite of truth. If we are to believe that we receive rights from a Creator as our founders said, we ought also to beleive what else they said about our inalienable natural rights, and how any legitimate form of government must preserve them. For instance (bold print mine):

"In the state of nature, every man hath an equal right by honest means to acquire property, and to enjoy it; in general, to pursue his own happiness, and none can consistently controul or interrupt him in the pursuit. But, so turbulent are the passions of some, and so selfish the feelings of others, that in such a state, there being no social compact, the weak cannot always be protected from the violence of the strong, nor the honest and unsuspecting from the arts and intrigues of the selfish and cunning. Hence it is easy to conceive, that men, naturally formed for society, were inclined to enter into mutual compact for the better security of their natural rights. In this state of society, the unalienable rights of nature are held sacred:--And each member is entitled to an equal share of all the social rights. No man can of right become possessed of a greater share: If any one usurps it, he so far becomes a tyrant; and when he can obtain sufficient strength, the people will feel the rod of a tyrant. Or, if this exclusive privilege can be supposed to be held in virtue of compact, it argues a very capital defect; and the people, when more enlightened, will alter their compact, and extinguish the very idea."

--Samuel Adams; to the Legislature of Massachusetts (Jan. 17, 1794)

"I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

-- Thomas Jefferson; from letter to Danbury Baptists (Jan. 1, 1802)

"the praise of affording a just securing to property, should be sparingly bestowed on a government which, however scrupulously guarding the possessions of individuals, does not protect them in the enjoyment and communication of their opinions, in which they have an equal, and in the estimation of some, a more valuable property. More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government, where a man's religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right"

--James Madison; from Property (1792)

"No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him; every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society; and this is all the laws should enforce on him; and, no man having a natural right to be the judge between himself and another, it is his natural duty to submit to the umpirage of an impartial third."

--Thomas Jefferson; from letter to Francis Gilmer (June 7, 1816)

"the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree is a politic measure, and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right"

-- Thomas Jefferson; from letter to James Madison (October 28, 1785)

"We must not conclude merely upon a man's haranguing upon liberty, and using the charming sound, that he is fit to be trusted with the liberties of his country. It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty, — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves"

-- Samuel Adams; from an untitled essay in the Independent Advertiser (1748) [Ironically, a real Boston Tea Party organizer]

It would seems that those who believe that the whole population ought not to prosper unless the John Galt wannabees are catered to, DO NOT believe in the same inalienable rights as our founders did after all! That those who not only refuse to secure landed possesssions from pipline-building cormorants, but also tresspass upon rights of conscience, DESPISE the notion of inalienable rights that our founders beleived in. That those who deny those basic rights that primitive man enjoyed in the state of nature--to gather and eat, to drink clean water, and breath clean air--BLASPHEME against Nature and Nature's God as our founders understood these principals! As such, we must conclude that we can only enjoy our natural and just rights if we discard the false teaching of these plutocratic subversives forever! Then perhaps we can fulfil those most noble aspirations of the imperfect men who engaged in this experiment into government:

"May it be to the world... to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God."

-- Thomas Jefferson; from letter to Roger C. Weightman (June 24, 1826)


About the Writer

Agit8r is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on On Natural Rights and Plutocracy

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By Anastasia on August 14, 2012 at 05:53 pm

To begin with, Agit, I simply do not understand the juxtaposition of plutocracy with natural rights. I can't see the connection here and I really do not know what the 'plutocratic camp' is. If you are referring to the populist right a goodly bit of the Tea Party movement is just as suspicious of engorged forms of business as it is of engorged forms of government.

Nobody in the Romney camp is suggesting that government be abolished, a wholly ludicrous contention. Rather the impulse here is a return to first principles, a return to the principles of the various people you quote.

Be honest with yourself. Just imagine if Jefferson and Adams were alive today, just imagine what they would think of the power and patronage of the modern state, levels of control and intrusion that King George in his most tyrannical could never have conceived possible. You know and I know that they would recoil in complete horror at the failure of the constitutional arrangements they worked at so assiduously.

I do not question your sincerity. I do question your reasoning.

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By Agit8r on August 14, 2012 at 09:28 pm

Ana, let's not forget that though the Declaration had to justify their breaking allegiance with the King, the greater quarrel was with the English Parliament and their cronyism with the East India Company (the Tea Act, &c). It is in no way returning to first principles to allow a few to have the vast bulk of REPRESENTATION in congress (under the guise of "speech") whose rate of TAXATION would be less than 1% of income. Yet the one is what the plutocrat-appointed Justices decided, and the other is what the plutocratic Rep Ryan's plan would accomplish.

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By JimWilson on October 11, 2012 at 04:31 am

Ana, in the spirit of the article, let's have Mr. Franklin explain why the 'Civil Society' of European plutocracy must be broken with:

"if my Countrymen should ever wish for the Honour of having among them a Gentry enormously wealthy, let them sell their Farms and pay rack'd Rents; the Scale of the Landlords will rise as that of the Tenants is depress'd who will soon become poor, tattered, dirty, and abject in Spirit. Had I never been in the American Colonies, but was to form my Judgment of Civil Society by what I have lately seen [in Ireland and Scotland], I should never advise a Nation of Savages to admit of Civilisation: For I assure you, that in the Possession and Enjoyment of the various Comforts of Life, compar'd to these People every Indian is a Gentleman: And the Effect of this kind ofCivil Society seems only to be, the depressing Multitudes below the Savage State that a few may be rais'd above it"-- Benjamin Franklin; letter to Joshua Babcock (Jan. 13. 1772) Emphasis mine.

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