Guy McLendon and Jeff Daiell: ‘Words Do Have Meaning’

Guy McLendon at LP.org blog;

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Co-Authored By Guy McLendon & Jeff Daiell
In writing about her novel, Anthem, Ayn Rand said she did not want statists to have this excuse, once a police state had America in its grip, "But that’s not what we meant!"

In some cases, frankly, a totalitarian state is the goal for advocates of statism.   Such advocates for tyranny are not likely to embrace libertarianism simply because our arguments are persuasive.

But in other cases, advocates for more government control honestly believe that they are working on behalf of Human Rights.  Such individuals may be influenced by reason.

However, winning them over requires that we first dispel the myth that their policies advance Human Rights.   To do that, we must clarify in their minds what a Right is and is not.   Pursuant to that, we suggest the following wording be added to the LP National Platform.

Proposed 2012 Plank:

3.5 Rights and Discrimination
Libertarians embrace the concept that humans have inherent rights.  We reject the theory that a natural right can ever impose an obligation upon others to fullfill that "positive right".  Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights, nor enhance privileges, based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.
 
 Current 2010 Plank:
3.5 Rights and Discrimination

We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.

9 thoughts on “Guy McLendon and Jeff Daiell: ‘Words Do Have Meaning’

  1. John Jay Myers

    @1 (2)
    A “positive right” as in you have a right to a thing, not just the ability to try for said thing.

    So no one has a “right” to a job, or to health care.

  2. Robert Capozzi

    My quick take is I don’t see the additions proposed here adding much. If McLendon & Daiell feel that the term “natural rights” is critically important, a crisper solution is to say “…abridge any individual’s [natural] rights,…”

    IF the point is to “clarify in their minds what a Right is and is not,” this doesn’t do so sufficiently. Further, I’m not sure a treatise on Natural Law theory is warranted or appropriate for a political party’s platform. Personally, while I respect that some Ls adhere to Natural Law theory, I think the theory has a lot of holes, but then all theories have holes. Going down this particular rabbit hole seems unnecessary, IMO.

  3. paulie Post author

    I prefer the current language. The first proposed added sentence is fine, although not really necessary.

    The second proposed added sentence is above the vast majority of people’s heads. I think general libertarian principles are already well covered at the beginning and end of the platform.

    I suspect the authors would not want to add the first proposed new sentence without also adding the second.

    “Government should not deny or abridge any individual’s rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation” to me already implies “nor enhance privileges,” since to enhance one person’s privileges on such a basis necessarily abridges other people’s rights. Government discrimination is still government discrimination, even if it’s “reverse” or “affirmative.”

    I have no real objection to adding the extra word, but I don’t see it as necessary either.

    Is there really a big problem of people supporting (or not supporting) the LP because they think we are in favor of positive rights for certain people based upon sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation?

    Or some attempt by people who are in favor of such things to take over the LP underway?

  4. Robert Capozzi

    p, no, I’ve seen no confusion or take-over attempts by advocates of positive rights. Where it gets tricky is how to unwind government privileges, which in some cases was intended to remedy longstanding government policies that were intertwined with (even longer in effect) social mores, such as racism, sexism, and homophobism.

    I prefer Ls have a more toleration of a range of views on how to address these sorts of issues. These are complex questions and HOW an Ls address them will vary.

    For ex., slavery was social engineering. So was the Civil Rights Act. The CRA may not have been the optimal way to address the residual, corrosive effects of the slave trade and slavery, but it’s not obvious to me why we’d want to right that initial wrong only through jurisprudence, as some Ls seem to believe. Jurisprudence is itself sub-optimal in a range of matters. It’s my default position, but there may be cases where the civil law route is unacceptably slow and imperfect for blatant wrongs.

  5. AroundtheblockAFT

    Ah, the old conflict between the “Brevity Caucus” and those who want to pack every possible libertarian permutation into every sentence. As someone noted above, even those with college degrees have a hard time understanding libertarian concepts without a white paper being written on the subject. Even then, the lazy and impatient are not going to take time to understand our very complicated philosophy. So maybe it doesn’t matter if the LP platform is a series of one line statements or a telephone-book size treatise.

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