Kiwi Polemicist

November 4, 2008

• There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Electoral Finance Act

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I am a classical liberalist and you’re probably thinking that I’m strong on human rights, but that is not true: I believe that there is no such thing as “human rights”. Therefore I do not consider the evil Electoral Finance Act to be a breach of “human rights”*. Allow me to explain.

The fundamental principle of classical liberalism is the non-aggression axiom:

It is illicit to initiate or threaten invasive violence against a man or his legitimately owned property.

This covers personal rights and property rights, and what is usually called “the right to freedom of speech” is actually property rights, because I have the right to say whatever I like when I am using my own property. Three illustrations of this:

1) I have the right to print political pamphlets and give them away or sell them without hindrance because the pamphlets are my property.

2) I have the right to buy a hall and state my political opinions to whoever is in the hall because the hall is my property. I can also do the same in a rented hall if the rental contract allows this because I have purchased the right to use the hall for a period of time.

3) I have the right to purchase radio or television time and state my political beliefs. Naturally the station owners have the right to refuse to sell the time to me and listeners/viewers have the right to turn off their sets if they do not want to listen to me.

The EFA is not a breach of “human rights”, rather it is a breach of property rights. My money, or at least what is left after the State has stolen a good part of it, is my property, yet the State tells me what I can and cannot do with that money during election year. If I print a billboard that billboard is my property, but the State tells me that I must put an authorisation notice on the billboard, so the State is interfering with my property rights and putting words into my mouth.

The present definition of “human rights” is subjective and invites such evils as the EFA, the anti-smacking law and hate-speech laws. Only when “human rights” are redefined as property rights and personal rights in accordance with the non-aggression axiom can we have a consistent, logical and objective set of rights.

I am a classical liberalist and I believe that there is no such thing as “human rights”, but I am passionate about property and personal rights.

**********

Related post:
Insane rules for election day

The other day I spotted this egregious piece of hypocrisy from the Labour government – even if we do vote the same thing happens. Click on the picture for a full size view.

**********

*I have previously said that the EFA is an attack on the right to freedom of speech, which was a phenomenonological description given for clarity and brevity. Translation: I was describing the visible effect of the EFA, rather than the underlying mechanics of what the EFA does. It’s like saying “the sun has risen” rather than “the Earth has rotated and the Sun is now within my line of sight”; both are true, but one is simpler.

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19 Comments »

  1. [...] the fact that Helen Clark was able to breach the Bill of Rights with the Electoral Finance Act shows that the government is able to break laws with impunity: to put it another way, laws are only [...]

    Pingback by Election 2008: choosing your slave master « Kiwi Polemicist — November 6, 2008 @ 5:43 am

  2. [...] 3) s197 also prevents people from trying to influence voters on election day via the internet, TV, radio, public address systems/loudspeakers and the like. I can understand that extremely loud public address systems could be intimidatory to voters, but internet, radio and TV are all opt-in means of communication, i.e. you have to turn them on, you are not forced to listen to them, and you can turn them off at at any time. Therefore I believe that on election day I should be able to say whatever I like on my blog, or on a radio station I own, or on a radio station whose time I have purchased. As I said in my earlier post, I should be allowed to say whatever I like when I am using my own property. [...]

    Pingback by Insane rules for election day « Kiwi Polemicist — November 8, 2008 @ 10:58 am

  3. [...] is an excellent illustration of what I said in my earlier post: the EFA does not breach “human rights” (there is no such thing), but it does breach [...]

    Pingback by Rodney Hide’s yellow jacket « Kiwi Polemicist — December 4, 2008 @ 10:11 am

  4. There is no such thing as rights.
    They’re just an idea used by humans to control one another.

    Comment by Wiwi — December 12, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

    • Wiwi: as I said in the post I do believe that we have property rights and personal rights, but the full and logical application of those rights stops people controlling other people. Any other “rights” permit illegitimate control of people.

      Comment by kiwipolemicist — December 12, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

  5. [...] your property rights, i.e. they are taking away your right to do what you like with your property (click here for a simple explanation of [...]

    Pingback by Green madness: European Union plans to ban plasma TVs « Kiwi Polemicist — January 12, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  6. Well said!
    Saw your link on DPF’s blog.

    It seems that property rights and principles are only understood by 1,000 people in NZ.

    Lawrence oO

    Comment by Lawrence of Otago — January 16, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  7. Kp….I agree with the gust of your argument but question your wording.

    There are indeed human rights…in fact there are no others so the “human” is actually redundant.

    Ayn Rand said it best..

    …”A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life.

    “The concept of individual rights is so new in human history that most men have not grasped it fully to this day.

    “It was the concept of individual rights that had given birth to a free society. It was with the destruction of individual rights that the destruction of freedom had to begin.

    “Any alleged ‘right’ of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right.

    “The term ‘individual rights’ is a redundancy: there is no other kind of rights and no one else to possess them.” ….

    Human rights ARE property rights….you are correct.The rights to life ,liberty,property and to pursue your happiness are just expressions of property ownership of your person and the actions you preform with that person…

    Comment by James — January 16, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  8. [...] see my post There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector…. That post a contains a link to a summary of the [...]

    Pingback by • NZ Govt supports Helen Clark for United Nations role « Kiwi Polemicist — March 3, 2009 @ 1:29 pm

  9. [...] the definition of “human rights” can and does change without warning. As I said in my earlier post, there is no such thing as “human rights”, there are only personal and property rights. [...]

    Pingback by • ACT Party tramples on freedom to get three strikes law « Kiwi Polemicist — March 6, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  10. [...] • There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… [...]

    Pingback by • David Garrett gives Helen Clark a digital salute « Kiwi Polemicist — April 2, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  11. [...] Related post: There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… [...]

    Pingback by • Tiananmen Square: 20 years after the massacre nothing has changed « Kiwi Polemicist — June 5, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  12. [...] This is explained in my post There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector…. Leave a [...]

    Pingback by What is a “social contract”? « Kiwi Polemicist — July 21, 2009 @ 10:26 pm

  13. [...] There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… [...]

    Pingback by • Ted Nugent on self defence and gun control « Kiwi Polemicist — July 28, 2009 @ 4:01 pm

  14. [...] There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… [...]

    Pingback by Property rights are a part of human nature « Kiwi Polemicist — August 31, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  15. [...] rights, reverse discrimination — Kiwi Polemicist @ 10:53 am In my earlier post titled There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… (you have to love a snappy title like that) I said I am a classical liberalist and you’re [...]

    Pingback by Imaginary human rights more important than real property rights « Kiwi Polemicist — January 13, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  16. [...] rights, reverse discrimination — Kiwi Polemicist @ 10:53 am In my earlier post titled There is no such thing as “human rights”: a classical liberal perspective on the Elector… (you have to love a snappy title like that) I said I am a classical liberalist and you’re [...]

    Pingback by Bar owner’s property rights wrecked by human rights « Kiwi Polemicist — January 13, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  17. there is suc things as hman rights like we have a right to live!

    Comment by ggfij — June 23, 2010 @ 2:16 pm


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