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Why anarchists reject the misleading concept of 'rights'

Submitted by ziq in Anarchism

For 'rights' to be given to you, first a state must exercise its monopoly on violence to strip you of all your freedom, and then trickle-feed some 'rights' back to you over the centuries with certain stipulations (like limiting it to straight white men only).

The entire concept of rights depends on a totalitarian state (all states are totalitarian by definition) denying you all freedoms but the freedoms they decide to gift you with (with strict limitations placed on them).

So for you to accept these 'rights' to things such as 'free' (controlled) speech and the 'right' to vote for your ruler, you're effectively accepting and legitimizing a violent, thieving, bloodthirsty gang's power over you.

This is why the word 'rights' is rejected by people who seek freedom and anarchy.

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10

amongstclouds wrote

I've always tried to describe it like this; any idea of 'rights' that has to be bestowed on the individual by a greater power (whether this be by god or state) is illegitimate in the fact that those very 'rights' can be stripped at any time -- and how convenient that the people who have the power to take those 'rights' away are also the ones who uphold them.

When there is no accountability there can be no 'rights'.

6

aiwendil wrote

Also rights are just ideas, they are meaningless when somebody gives them to you and then strips them from you at will. There really is no such thing as rights, just like borders and money, they are imaginary and as soon as you choose to live outside of those fantasy worlds, you can begin to be free. Unfortunately militarized governments that have declared a monopoly on violence use tangible, real world resources to enforce these imaginary ideas. I would like to reject these ideas out right, but one can only do that to some degree and still manage survive and thrive in this world. Governments will criminalize any lifestyle that avoids it's control.

The main reason I despise the idea of rights is that they contribute to jingoist rhetoric.

“Freedom!- is the fatuous jingle of our civilization, but only those deprived of it have the barest inkling of what the stuff actually is.” -David Mitchell

People can go on about how great it is to have freedom of speech, when if you've been paying attention, even just intermittently it is impossible to fail to notice how eroded these "right," have gotten. I mean, you have the right to speak freely, but what you say can be used against you in court or in the media to destroy you. That is not really freedom. I do believe that all actions have consequences in a broad sense, but when the government is manufacturing consequences for using your "rights," they cease to be rights and become privileges afforded to certain cross sections of society, based largely on incumbency to wealth, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc...

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tnstaec wrote

What you're describing are legal rights. They're kind of a moot point for anarchists, since we reject the state. Trickier for us to discuss are "natural rights". While I'm also skeptical of this category of rights (as I am of most of the legacy of the "Enlightenment") I haven't seen an anarchist response to the concept.

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ComradeTucker wrote (edited )

Natural rights are a meme. Someone had to declare that they had natural, inalienable rights that should be respected, and everyone around them decided to believe they had them too, and that there was some moral consequence for violating them. If nobody believed in the concept of natural rights, there would be no rights to violate or consequences for violating them. In liberal societies, the state claims to reserve the right to punish those who violate the natural rights of others, and legal rights emerge from that. Don't get me wrong - I like this meme, and think it's a good fundamental concept for building societies without state oppression, but if the state or some other actor decides I don't have natural rights, well, then I suppose don't, because natural rights don't stop bullets.

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kestrel77 wrote (edited )

i have what i consider to be an obvious natural right to live by virtue of the simple fact that i am alive. but, in reality i could die at any moment, possibly being killed by someone else. so in a material sense, what is a "right"? and does believing in them support our real movement?

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ziq wrote

Yeah, and if you suddenly die of a heart attack, your 'right' to exist is shown to not be backed by anything.