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The Free Man’s 7-Point Bill of Rights

free man bill of rightsThe Roman Catholic Church was guilty of many abuses in Europe all through the Middle Ages, and I think the people of Europe had good reason to walk away from it. But as they did, they made a massive error: They didn’t replace it with anything better.

The Church, regardless of its errors and crimes, taught virtues to the people of that continent. Medieval Europe became home to a culture founded largely on some very positive values, and you can’t deny that the Church had a hand in that development.

After all, not everyone involved with the institution was corrupt and abusive (in fact, such villains were the minority). A significant percentage of local priests, monks and nuns were decent, caring people, trying to help the people of their diocese. However many and evil the inquisitors were, the number of kind and decent clergy was higher, and they had their effects.

Europe’s error was that they didn’t just reject the Church; many of them rejected everything that was associated with it. The virtues that the Church taught, however poorly, had given Europe a moral core. Those virtues should have been preserved.

The New Enlightenment

Europeans of the 17th and 18th centuries removed themselves from the mental bondage of the Church, much as the current people of the West are starting to remove themselves from the mental bondage of the state. And this got me to thinking…

Are there things that we, in our disgust for the state, might foolishly throw away, like many Europeans did with their cultural virtues?

Honesty, I couldn’t think of much.

A lot of us, from the Tannehills to Murray Rothbard to myself and many others, have written about justice in the absence of state force. That’s pretty well covered.

Roads and fire protection are simple too, and they’ve been covered as well.

The one thing that I could think of beyond these is a Bill of Rights.

A Great Concept, an Inadequate Term

A lot of people think that a Bill of Rights is a statement from a government, outlining what rights they give the people. But in the better cases – such as the US Bill of Rights – that is false. A good Bill of Rights is a set of restrictive statements, detailing what the people do not permit the government to do.

Now, we all know that our US Bill of Rights is broken every day, but the principle is a good one, and the concept itself can be a useful thing.

So, I propose a Free Man’s Bill of Rights. Not a statement of rights that we expect someone to give us, but a set of rights that we will defend. In other words (take notice):

These are rights that we demand and will defend.

* * * * *

The Rights of Free Men and Women

We hold these as inherent and inalienable human rights:

  1. We are free to do whatever we wish, so long as we extend this same right to others.
  2. Every individual stands equal to any other person or group. We accept no person or group as inherently superior.
  3. No person or group has a right to aggress against us.
  4. We hold the right to defend against aggression.
  5. Our property is our own, and our will regarding it ought not to be opposed. Any person or group that attempts to counter
  6. our will regarding our property is an aggressor.
  7. Our sole obligation to others is to do no harm. Cooperation, compassion, and kindness are positive goods that we choose to
  8. bring into the world, but so long as we harm no one, we have committed no offense.
  9. We claim the freedom to trade, to express ourselves as we wish, to move and think as we wish, and to be free of surveillance.

We will defend these rights, both for ourselves and for others.

* * * * *

Please discuss.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

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  • John@EconEngineer

    In number 1, why do you have to have “so long as we extend this same right to others.” One’s right to do as they wish isn’t linked to their belief in others having that same right.
    Why not simply state “We are free to do whatever we wish so long as we do not initiate violence upon any other person”

    • Paul Rosenberg

      You’re right John, we could say “so long as we do not initiate…,” but I like “extend same rights to others” because it’s elegant in its all-inclusiveness, as well as its principle of integrity – I won’t do to you what I wouldn’t like for myself.

      Plus, I borrowed it from Thomas Jefferson, which endears it to me. :)

      • John@EconEngineer

        It is elegant. But there are disagreements within the liberty circles about how the rights of others are applied. Reading this I interpret it as our rights are dependent upon our interactions with others, rather than being inalienable to us. Like Kinsella’s estoppel approach: http://mises.org/document/1864/ which I disagree with as I don’t think interactions with others can remove what is given to us by our very nature.

        • 0point

          John, you write as though interacting with others is not an essential part of our nature. Peaceful, voluntary interactions with others is one of the core, one of the best, parts of our human nature.

          • John@EconEngineer

            I agree 0point. Peaceful, voluntary interactions ARE parts of our nature. But I do not think that my individual rights are dependent on my interactions with others.

          • 0point

            John, I think we probably are very close in our views on these subjects, but I just want to be precise in the terminology by pointing out that rights are only meaningful in the context of our interactions with others. Consider the mythical lone person on a deserted island — what would ‘rights’ even mean in that context? They would be irrelevant.
            Also, going back to Paul’s original wording of “extending this same right to others”, I think there’s a good case to be made that anyone who violates the rights of others necessarily forfeits any expectation for others to respect his own rights.
            I expect you’ll disagree, but would you mind elaborating on why?

          • John@EconEngineer

            You are correct that rights may not mean much to a man on a lone island as there is no real need for them, but I posit that those rights exist whether or not a man is alone, with one person or with billions. Those rights don’t stem from a human relationship, but from our own rational nature. If they stem from our nature, then just because one violates the rights of others can’t have his own rights morally or legally violated after the fact. One may not expect others to respect his rights due to his own actions, that’s fine, but he still retains them. There is a distinct difference.

  • Blake Roussel

    Fantastic idea and a much needed concept – we definitely need clear and common ground to stand on if we’re to have any chance of standing against tyranny. We also need a clarity on when we need to defend liberty. Beyond that a touchstone like this would be necessary for competing judiciaries (down to the individual) to function in an anarchist society.

    I don’t think anything in the list is new, but I do think a cliff notes version of liberty would go a long way to bringing the ideas to new people and keeping people focused on the essential things that matter.

    Another benefit is that stating these principles as a Bill of Rights makes them easily digestible for people.

    The only thing I take issue with is the idea that we have the right to be free of surveillance. That would be a negative right that would prevent others from using their own property as they see fit and therefore can’t actually be a right. (Think about it – this is the “right” of the cop to not be filmed while he’s abusing others.) Those of us who value our privacy (and who doesn’t?) will just need to find effective methods for keeping it that aren’t contrary to property rights.

    • Paul Rosenberg

      Yeah, I see your point on surveillance, Blake. Let me know if a better way to word that section comes up. I’d like to include something on surveillance, at least if possible.

      • Blake Roussel

        Rights relating to surveillance technology and information technology are inextricably intertwined because surveillance technology is a subset of information technology. In order to arrive at a principled statement of these rights it is helpful to further abstract and ask ourselves – what are our rights regarding information?

        These rights are the logical extensions of our ownership rights. Using our bodies or our possessions we have:

        1. The right to observe information.
        2. The right to record information.
        3. The right to transmit information.
        4. The right to modify information.
        5. The right to trade information.

        In terms of surveillance, these are the important corollaries:

        1. The right to encrypt information.
        2. The right to secure networks (physically protect network hardware from physical intrusion).
        3. The right to broadcast as you’d like on frequencies you own (have homesteaded) or across networks you own.
        4. The right to defend your communication frequencies as property (because they are a scarce resource and therefore can be property).
        5. The right to bar network access.
        6. The right to reproduce and broadcast information (free communication), including free speech.
        7. The right to transmit information anonymously.
        8, The right to freely modify technology that you own.
        … (I imagine there are many more) …

        I’ll leave it to you to distil that into something you can add to the Free Man’s Bill of Rights, if you’d like.

  • JonnyBH

    I’m assuming it’s not just on my compumachine that the lines, capital letters, and numbering are screwy and there are nine points, not seven. Edit/formatting needed?

  • ansonheath

    What about John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion”? That wasn’t exactly replacing something with nothing. It was the foundation for the American Puritan founding and success.
    Our present course to undermine that structure emerged from the European enlightenment (and French revolution?) which burrowed into our culture starting about 200 years ago and – voila – here we are – the desired ‘utopia’ without God. It’s nothing more than the modern version of paganism.
    Freedom as a governing concept for civil government, as founded by our founding fathers, was biblically based. How so? Our rights come from God – not the state and not from another man.
    In summary, the state has to govern as an authority which is accountable to the supreme authority, which is God. That is exactly what Jefferson meant when he wrote the Declaration.

    • 0point

      If you think our rights need to be sourced from some imaginary superhero, I prefer Superman. (Or Santa Claus.)

      • ansonheath

        I believe the American people just elected one – twice. Should make your day, eh?

  • Charles

    The last comment “we will defend these rights, both for ourselves and for others” is rather optimistic in my opinion. If the “we” you refer to is Boobus Americanas, good luck. The sheeple will not defend themselves. They will however, help the state if the state will give them something stolen from someone else.

    • michael

      people take each other to court all the time in an attempt to defend themselves

    • JdL

      The last comment “we will defend these rights, both for ourselves and for others” is rather optimistic in my opinion. If the “we” you refer to is Boobus Americanas, good luck. The sheeple will not defend themselves.

      You’re right, and I think Paul would agree. By saying we “defend these rights … for others” we ultimately mean only that we won’t lend support to abrogating those rights, not necessarily that we’ll pick up a gun to defend arbitrary person X in location Y menaced by government thug Z.

      And of course the “we” referred to is those of us who understand, which hopefully will grow in number as the government continues its race to the bottom.

  • michael

    To close the loop hole in 7 and 8:
    Make it clear that each is free to harm himself but not free to harm another…
    Possibly by adding “to another” or “to them” at the end of 7. (or similar exacting language)
    Otherwise it could EASILY be construed that I have an obligation to others not harm myself, which would give you the standing to interfere in my private behavior that you believe is harmful to myself.

  • JdL

    This is a solid list of basic rights, and I strongly agree with your characterization “Not a statement of rights that we expect someone to give us, but a set of rights that we will defend.” That’s the bottom line, after all: Boobus may believe that it’s immoral for me to assert, for example, that what I put into my own body is my choice, but he/she needs to realize that I reserve the right to shoot, and intend to follow through and shoot, any criminal who breaks into my house with the intent of restricting my actions in this regard.

    I’m a little confused, though, as to why points 6 and 8 begin in the middle of a sentence. And why the headline is for a 7 point BOR but there are 9.

  • JAH666

    Many years ago, following a Catholic upbringing and Christian Brothers High School education, I lost the faith (if, indeed I ever really had it). I’ve never stopped examining myself and discussing the entire matter with others (ministers, rabbis, priests). One thing I do know about faith is that when you truly have it, you know it. But, that said, I’ve always tried to live my life by the teachings and moral compass of the Judeo/Christian traditions. The secular entreaties of the ten commandments and Yeshua’s teachings are an excellent “moral compass” as a guide along the path of a person’s life, maybe even a more difficult one without religious faith.

    This Free Man’s Bill of Rights is something I’ve been waiting for. Another secular signpost to guide the steps of those of us not blessed with faith. Several of my closest friends have ‘a deep abiding faith’ in God and in some ways I envy them, but I know that it is not in me. Having these inalienable rights to help me along the way is most welcome and I intend to actively encourage others to read this. I hope you will invite constructive suggestions to make this bill of rights more clear and succinct. Thank you, Paul.

  • michael

    Also, the term we ought to be dropped in favor of each individual or each living soul. We can be taken as we collectively instead of the intended we individually.

  • David C. Moorman

    Satan on Earth. That is the Roman Catholic Church. Always has been, always will be.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDrscByKEUQ

    • Paul Rosenberg

      i’m going to leave this up, David, but it’s a stilted and misleading post.

      The bosses in Rome have misbehaved, just like the bosses in DC, London, Moscow, etc. In their 1700 year run, they have condoned unspeakable acts.

      BUT… pieces like this isolate the worst acts, blow them up beyond reality, and paint all Catholics as complicit. That makes it false, and bordering on hateful.

      The Catholics are not to blame for our problems (especially not today), and if they all became Protestants tomorrow, the world would not become magically better.

      If you’re serious about this, start reading original sources and find balance. THERE IS NO SUPER-POWERFUL MONSTER TO BE DEFEATED – WE NEED TO IMPROVE OURSELVES.

      • David C. Moorman

        If I were you Paul I’d do the research if I were you. Find out “who controls the world” because the Bible itself tells you it is Rome! Read Daniel 7 and Rev 13 – mirrors of each other. BTW Paul don’t make the same mistake as your opposition…..I said nothing about individual Catholics but the “Roman Catholic Church” specifically.

        • David C. Moorman

          BTW Paul I know you haven’t even seen the entire video because it’s 2 hours in length and I posted it an hour ago. So you’re basically making judgments based on not having all the info…..quite dangerous.

          • ansonheath

            C’mon man, you act as if you’re the source of all truth. That’s the first sign of being delusional.
            No human being has it all, period!

        • Paul Rosenberg

          I did the research, including Avro Manhattan’s work. I own a rare copy of HG Wells’ “Why Do We Not Bomb Rome?” I know the sins of Rome, but digging in that mine yields no payoff.

          Rome is but one of the many players who try to control the world, or parts of it. The answer is not to find a monster to kill, but improve ourselves and to stop supporting ANY system that can rob and punish masses of people.

          Peace

      • Samarami

        If I think I can be free
        I’m correct.

        If I think I cannot be free
        I’m also correct.

        Sam

  • John Bull

    Point One is simple anarchy. No one has absolute freedom to do as they please. Our freedom is like a circle we stand in, we should be free to do as we wish with in that circle, until our freedom impinges on another’s then it must by necessity be circumscribed. Which also negates Point Two, some people really are superior beings, e.g. the type of people who choose to live in trailer parks, watch reality television, listen to rap “music” etc are certainly on a lower level intellectually and spiritually, than those who actually produce, practice self-improvement and live as civilized humans. Points Five and Six? Just because it is your property does not give you the right to have a junkyard or put up a trailer house next door to my well kept property. The simple fact is that most men are incapable of living truly free because man is inherently selfish. Hence the reason for discarding a moral code that was somewhat consistent (even if not consistently adhered to) and hence the need for government.

    • Samarami

      With your comment, Mr. John Bull, it’s difficult to know where to start. To understand “simple anarchy” (well, “anarchy” anyway), I suggest this (pdf):

      http://faculty.msb.edu/hasnasj/GTWebSite/Obvious.pdf

      I think “…until our freedom impinges upon another’s…” is the gist of Paul’s 9 points. I avoid the term “rights”, but that’s another topic. A totally free market (unencumbered by the coercion of agents of a monopoly government system) will answer your concerns pertaining to point two.

      As you apparently understand the nature of selfishness (when you say “man is inherently selfish” I presume you’re including yourself — and, hopefully, me), you are on your way to understanding freedom.

      Hence the need to abandon monopoly “government”. –Sam

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      No government anywhere, at any time,

      has ever brought net benefit to any society,

      and there is no desirable function

      that any government performs

      that could not be performed better,

      or less expensively,

      by free people operating on a voluntary basis

      for profit or for charity.

      ~Jim Davies http://www.takelifeback.com/tdaw/

      • John Bull

        Sam, I use the common not pedantic definition of anarchy. I know the Greek meaning of the word, but in common usage it refers to disorder
        and/or chaos. I read your PDF and it is the same ivory tower nonsense that has been published for the last few centuries—it sounds good in theory—until you factor in human nature. We have government because people naturally gravitate toward some form of governance whether familial, tribal or societal. The problem with government, in America for example, is that while we have the
        opportunity to determine how we are governed, the majority of human beings are too apathetic to be involved even at the local level.

        This is anecdotal but it is nevertheless an accurate reflection of human nature: 10% of the people need no rule or governance they will do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, 10% of the people will always do the wrong thing regardless of any law and the remaining 80% fall somewhere in between and it is because of that 80% we need the rule of law. All you have to do is look at a large natural disaster where civil authority has broken down and you see man’s true nature.

        I may neither need nor want government, but I do understand how savage human beings are in the absence of enforced restraint and so will suffer the “inconvenience” until something better comes along.

        • Samarami

          For me, John, something better HAS come along: I am a sovereign state. My neighboring state (apparently the one you are suffering with inconvenience) has metastasized into a fighting, squabbling police state — which is normal for a monopoly upon violence:

          Monopoly “justice” is never unbiased.
          When that group of psychopaths who form
          what we know of as “the state”

          · Make the laws,
          · Enforce the laws,
          · Prosecute the laws,
          · Hire the prosecutors,
          · License the “defense” attorneys,
          · Pay the “judges”,
          · Build the jails,
          · Contract jails out to private entities,
          · Employ and pay the wardens,
          · Employ and pay the guards,
          · Employ and pay the parole officers,

          Well, that sort of monopoly “justice”
          is not an unbiased system.

          It is abject tyranny.

          (Thanks, Daily Bell:

          http://www.thedailybell.com/3939/VIDEO-17-Year-Old-Honor-Student-Jailed-for-Missing-School )

          I understand, John — the vast majority of folks over in my neighboring state (you included) honestly and sincerely believe that a monopoly state in fact serves a socially useful purpose, and they support the predators and parasites by participating in all their schemes: “voluntary compliance”, I think, is how they are convinced to submit.

          If you think you can be free where you are
          you are correct.

          If you think you can’t be free where you are
          you are also correct.

          You can run. But you cannot hide.

          Sam

    • absolute rights

      Do you suppose you are in the upper class of thinkers? If so, you didn’t demonstrate it with this analysis. And yes, if one owns land he can place junk on it, even if it is next to your “well kept” property. Unless you are able to unanimously convince a judge and jury of 1.duty 2.breach of duty 3.direct and proximate causation of 4. harm.

  • absolute rights

    Rightful liberty is having the freedom to behave anyway one wishes that does not directly and proximately harm another.

  • 0point

    I still gravitate to Uncle Eric’s (aka Richard Maybury’s) formulation of The Two Laws:
    1. Do all you have agreed to do.
    2. Do not encroach on other persons or their property.
    Where these two laws are widely obeyed, civilization will flourish. Where they are not, it will not.

    http://www.richardjmaybury.com/law.html
    “The first rule is the basis of contract law, and the second, the basis of tort law and some criminal law.
    “These are the two laws taught by all religions. This is why they were the basis of Common Law — the law common to all.
    “Political power is the privilege of violating these laws. This is why it corrupts.
    “Travel around the world. Where you find these laws most closely obeyed, both by the people and the governments, you will find the most liberty, prosperity and peace. This is explained in my “Uncle Eric” book Whatever Happened To Justice? Where the two laws are not widely obeyed, the only options are tyranny or chaos. This is Chaostan’s permanent condition, because that vast area never developed legal systems based on the two laws.”

    • absolute rights

      well put. 1. is just not specific enough to be law. Both can be summed up with do not harm another.

  • absolute rights

    Paul, I don’t have your gift for pros, but I wanted to add this language to the mix. Maybe there is some way to soften it and smooth it out??? While still keeping the singular versus the plural?
    After a detailed study of society’s history with government, each one of us find the following to be true:
    – Initiating nonconsensual harm, regardless of intention, is the primary source of human suffering.
    – No individual or group is inherently superior to another;
    – No individual or group has the rightful authority to rule another, such authority is derived from brute force, and is hereby rejected;
    – Each individual is utterly unique, irreplaceable, and sacred;
    – The creator bestows upon each individual the right to behave anyway one wishes that does not directly and proximately harm another, and to guaranty that right with legal impunity is mandatory;
    – One is responsible for one’s own actions both in success, failure, and harm;
    – One’s sole obligation to others is to do no harm;
    – The only rightful use of nonconsensual harm is to defend against those who initiate harm
    – Villains do not telegraph their felonious actions and as such, one may be armed as one pleases, when one pleases, where one pleases;

    As such, each of us commit to harming no one and letting no one harm us.

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