Culture Statist Confusion about Rights

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    Libertarianism includes unconditional freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

    Bionic Mosquito disagrees. He writes that, since the bedrock principle of libertarianism is private property, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are not rights at all, but conditional to the approval of property owners.

    It may seem strange that a libertarian rejects freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but this is the (il)logical result of formulating “rights” or “freedom” as a floating abstraction, i.e. as a statement about power rather than ethics. If free speech is about the power to speak, then a property owner violates rights if he refuses to allow a pedophile communist to give a lecture in his living room. In this view, rights do not exist, and if they did they would have to be destroyed.

    But is this a reasonable view of rights and freedom? I think not. The very concept of rights assumes a theory of entitlement. Freedom of speech includes the concept of property rights. As Rothbard put it, rights and property are two sides of the same coin. When one appeals to freedom of speech, one is already saying implicitly that speech is subject to property rights. Freedom of speech is the right to speak wherever and whenever one is *entitled* to speak. There is no right to take over a radio station or lecture hall.

    I suppose that, to be consistent, Bionic Mosquito would have to say that free speech is as invalid as freedom of travel, for the same reasons. But as noted, Bionic is using the collectivist notion of positive freedom, a notion that most libertarians reject. For most libertarians, rights are understood in the negative (non-aggression) sense. Hence, freedom of travel already includes the constraint: wherever one is entitled to travel (by ownership or permission of owners.)

    For negative rights libertarians, open borders means the freedom to travel wherever one is entitled to travel. The constraint of property ownership is included in the term “open borders.” Please do not let culture statists perversely redefine “open borders” to mean “regardless of property rights.” That is a fundamental misunderstanding of what rights are. Freedom of travel no more violates property rights than freedom of speech.

    Evolving Culture and Adherence to Abstraction By Bionic Mosquito

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