Since the late Middle Ages, political thought in the West has started with the assertion that the point of social organization was to reduce coercion. The ideal society is one in which everyone naturally played their role without being forced into it. The assumption is that forcing people into roles for which they are not suited, or they do not wish to perform is both unjust and dangerous. It is also more costly to compel people to obey the law than if they voluntarily abide by the law.
If the goal of your political model is to reduce coercion to the absolute minimum, then you ideally want a society that agrees on everything. After all, if everyone agrees that society must have gong farmers and some people are better suited for the task than others, then everyone is going to agree on having gong farmers. Even the guy chosen for the task will agree if it is explained to him. He may not like the task, but he will understand he is playing a vital role in his society.
Straight away you can see the problem for individualism and the natural rights crowd when it comes to organizing society. If we start from the assumption that we are all unique individuals in control of our own destiny, then we are free to not go along with being the town’s gong farmer. Even if all the facts point to that role being best for the person and his community, he is free to reject it because he is an autonomous person free to live his life as he sees fit.
If we assume we have magical rights bestowed upon us by the gods, then it is fundamentally immoral for society to coerce us into anything, much less a profession we do not like. Since coercion is not limited to physical force, the gong farmer who sees himself as a sovereign man with natural rights is going to look at the social arrangements that result in him being the gong farmer as coercion. In other words, he has a right to not be the gong farmer.
You can see the obvious problem with trying to organize a society composed of individuals who think they have God-given rights. Your proposed social order must first convince all of them to accept the results of the system, even if the results favor some members over others. That is a tall order, given that everyone believes that they have the same rights as everyone else. After all, if God gave them the same rights, why would he then not give them the same talents?
Since it is not possible to get even a small community to agree on everything about the particulars of organizing the community, especially when everyone believes they are God’s special little snowflake, you are going to need something that leads these individual snowflakes to voluntarily submit to the social order. They will have to believe that their individual rights rest on their sacrifice of those rights in order to maintain the society which makes their rights possible.
That last bit is what has vexed the natural right crowd for generations. They desperately want to believe that natural rights exist independent of society and the men who create and maintain it, but logically this is not true. The concept of rights, natural, individual, human or any other version, is an invention of man. Rights are a claim on society, a demand that the rest of society protect certain entitlements bestowed upon members in exchange for their membership in the society.
We see this at work all over today. The man who subdued the subway lunatic operated on the assumption that he had a duty to defend the rights of his fellow subway riders from that crazed lunatic. The people who will put him in jail operate under the assumption that they have duty to defend their race against any and all actions by people of the white race. Since the latter group has control of society, the former’s individual rights will mean little in the courtroom.
Putting the particulars of that aside, we see a problem of trying to organize a society based on individualism and natural rights. The first thing that must happen is that such a society exclude anyone who does not accept these principles. Even a small number of people who reject these concepts will create two problems for your society organized around individualism and natural rights. One is they will violate the rights of others and second, they will force society to violate their rights.
Now, science tells us that the closer humans are genetically, the more likely they are to agree on the basics of human behavior. Put a group of random Finns together and they will quickly display the group characteristics of Finns. Put a group of Bantus together in the exact same circumstances and they will quickly display the group characteristics that we associate with Bantus. If you want a society with the least amount of coercion, then you want the least amount of biodiversity.
What follows for the individualism and natural rights people is they must insist on a society composed of people who naturally cherish individualism and natural rights if they have any hope of maintaining these things. Further, they must also conjure an exception to their moral code that allows them to act collectively in order to repel attempts to undermine their individualism and natural rights regime. They end up in the same dilemma as the libertarians.
Hans Hermann-Hoppe observed that within libertarian ideology there is no way to maintain a libertarian society. After all, if John Galt suddenly decides to be a Marxist, what business is it of his neighbors? If others join Galt in his new civic religion, what can the libertarians do about it? The non-aggression principle forbids them from compelling Galt and his followers to remain libertarians. The individualism and natural rights crowd run into the same problem with the defenders of the subway lunatic.
The solution for the individualism and natural rights people is a moral code that transcends individual rights, but also supports individual rights. If you believe that your people have been given rights by your God and those rights are what distinguish you from other human groups, then collectively defending those rights is not only permitted, but also necessary. You have a God-given duty to defend your society which is organized around individualism and natural rights.
What you need to maintain a society based on individualism and natural rights is a folk religion that sacralizes those rights and the people who possess them. The same God that grants your people natural rights commands you to defend the people granted those rights, as well as their society that maintains those rights. Under such a condition, the individualism and natural rights people would be justified in rioting in New York and chasing off the prosecutors in defense of their God and his people.
The missing component for the individualism and natural rights crowd is a moral component that compels the believer to defend these principles. Nature cannot be the moral authority for anything, as natural operates outside the domain of the prescriptive, but God or gods can certainly be that moral authority. God tells us what we ought to do, so if our God tells us we ought to respect individualism and natural rights, then we have a duty to do so by any means necessary.
What all this means is that if you want to live in a society in which individualism and natural rights are respected by everyone, then you need to come up with a folk religion that sacralizes those things. What you want is to live in a liberal theocracy in which dissent from individualism and natural rights is not tolerated. What liberalism needs is not a Karl Marx, but a Moses, someone who lead his people to their promised land where they can create their liberal theocracy as God intended.
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