The following essay is a guest post from Operative SMR. We remind our readers that you are welcome to submit your thoughts either as an email or as a complete essay.
Most Dread and Awful Czar,
With regard to your screed on what makes a right*, I would posit that a right is whatever you can get someone else to agree is your right. That acceptance may come by way of your fraud, force, or persuasion.
If you can persuade or cozen the other party, he gives you what you want without violence. If those don’t work, you must either resort to force or concede that your wish is not a right.
We on the non-liberal** side often speak of a Right as if it were axiomatic, but many people will not accept our axiom and substitute their own. Since I cannot point to a right, weigh it, or prop a door open with it, it remains, in reality, subjective. The definition, “something that one may properly claim as due,” seriously begs the question of the definition of “properly.” Again, it is subjective.
I think we may get further if we abandon the magical aspects of rights and focus instead on their function. Instead of trying to persuade the impersuadable as to the nature of “should,” we might make more headway with a question and a testing of “can.”
First off, will enough people agree to respect right such that the holder can exercise it reliably?
Secondly, does it harm or coerce someone else who does not agree to the requirements that the “right” places on him. That gentleman could justly oppose the other’s right by persuasion, trickery, or force if he does not agree to give what the other’s right requires.
Thirdly, can we afford it? That is, what happens if everyone chooses to exercise this right? Is that condition supportable?
It’s a recondite topic, indeed, but one infinitely worth considering because the working solution could literally mean life or death to a society or a culture.
I must admit that the rights I want mainly involve other people’s not preventing me from what I want to do. If I’m stuck in a bus depot by weather, I want no one to prevent me from seeking a bar, but that does not place on the bar owner an obligation to be there for me or to let me in when I get there. I think that a system of rights where no one is preventing anyone and no one is coercing anyone is most functional and supportable.
With gratitude for your sharing of your thoughts and hoping you are too inebriated to kill me, I remain
*I assume you were not referring to three lefts.
**Too confusing to mention the right in a discussion of rights, right?
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.