Friday, January 22, 2016

The Wellspring

Libertarians profess that all rights stem from property - the ability to use one's resources as they see fit, provided nobody suffers the negative side effects without consent. Objectors of a variety of stripes rebuke this belief, believing that when followed to it's logical conclusion that landlords, corporations, businesses or the wealthy would have the opportunity to become the tyrants we aim to render powerless. Even alleged friends of liberty may invoke this objection, such as Republican paragon Ronald Reagan - who praised libertarians from one corner of his mouth, but defended the state from the other, all in the same breath at that.

I do not sympathize with this objection for a lot of reasons (most of these are outside the scope of this writing, but will be a topic in the future), and I say this as an individual that objectors are likely aiming to "protect".

I've never been one to believe in a Universal Protocol that applies to all situations, at all times, in all circumstances. But recent musings brought me to the revelation that this steadfast belief that there is no Universal Protocol flies in the face of my refutation in and of itself - as the belief is a Universal Protocol, and that there is at least one Universal Protocol that none but a callous fiend could refute.

All individuals own property, or at least hold a legitimate claim to property. I own the shirt I'm wearing, I own my shoes, I own the computer that I'm using to write this. But most importantly, I own myself. The crude matter of flesh and bone that houses everything I am and all that I could be is mine. Nobody has a legitimate claim to my person until I forfeit my rights explicitly.

People may not recognize property rights as libertarians do. I yield to the idea that this isn't likely to drastically change tomorrow, next year, or in the next decade. But, I believe people do recognize the individual's right to the self - whether this belief is realized or not.

This may be why the mediums of communication flow with outrage and disgust when we learn that someone has been raped or molested, why we demand retribution for mass killings, why we are revolted to learn of small children who have suffered a gruesome fate, why we sympathize with the subjects of an underground involuntary slavery ring, or when we learn that a bystander has sustained a mortal wound for no other reason than being on the periphery of a mad man. All of these egregious crimes against the individual prompt a righteous backlash from the aggressor's peers, and rightfully so. Lethal and invasive assault against an individual is the initiation of aggression that allows for all property rights, both claimed and potential, to be rendered null, regardless of the victim's opinion on the matter.

It is here, where I see the only way to forfeit one's rights to a mortal coil without explicit consent: When one initiates aggression with lethal or invasive force, when in the darkest of moments one must decide if they're going to survive an encounter with their personal property rights maintained.  The slim possibility of theft, trespass, or mortal peril isn't enough to justify lethal retaliation. However, it stands to reason that someone who's breaking through a locked window in the dead of night isn't doing so to have a reasonable discussion about how his rights relate to those of anyone else, and taking the time to discern motive could cost the defender dearly.

I don't mind being proven wrong on the matter, and would even invite a discussion on it.

There likely isn't a Universal Protocol for what we can consider reasonable defense against aggression or invasion, as all situations and the individuals that comprise them have enough variances to make all elements unique. I can't conclude on libertarian grounds a Universal Protocol for retaliation, and I don't think too many of us can. At least, not without inadvertently justifying something we wouldn't otherwise.

However, I think what we can agree to as a universal constant to the philosophy is that all property rights stem from the idea that we are the property owner of the self, and are within our rights to promote and defend it - It's the Wellspring that allows for every right we would lay claim to.

I think the strength of Libertarianism is that we don't pretend to have every answer, or even the answer.  As someone who may not be the perfect Christian or even a practicing one, there's at least one judge that I think might have the answer.

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