This article appeared in Consent #11 (December 1989 - January 1990)


- Murray Hopper

{Mr. Hopper is a founding member of Freedom Party now in charge of special projects.}

Over the course of my advocacy of "free minds and free markets", I have noticed that many people are quite uncomfortable with talk about "the absoluteness of individual rights." This is unfortunate, given that the concept of individual rights needs and merits the widest possible discussion, since a clear grasp of this principle is essential to understanding what it means to live as a rational being in a free society.

For the record, our rights are threefold: life (the primary right); liberty (complete freedom of peaceable thought and action); and property (the enabling right).

Note how these rights form a continuum: liberty results in property, which not only supports life but gives people the means to implement their values and fulfill their dreams. Note also that there is no right to initiate violence.

Let those who are uncomfortable with the concept of absolute rights consider the alternative to absolute rights: conditional rights. Surely such a concept has no place in a free society. If our rights can be legislated away from us, they are little better than no rights at all.

Perhaps it would be more comfortable to use the term "inalienable" as it was used by Thomas Jefferson, the author of the American Declaration of Independence, to refer to "that which may not rightfully be taken away".

In any event, we ought to be seeking to enlarge our rights, not diminish them. Think of how wonderful it would be if every Canadian could make the following statement and know it to be true: "I am the owner of my life, my mind, my effort, and the products thereof."

Think about it. And talk about it.

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