I have recently been engaged in some political discussions with one whom I would consider to be a zealous liberal. He is, in fact, a self described socialist. He sees nothing wrong with socialism and thinks it's a marvelous thing. He has argued that modern socialist (not communist) countries are all very prosperous. I think he is self deluded and very much unable to see the hypocrisy and flaws of his own arguments. He is, at times, very willfully ignorant as he wants so badly for his point of view to be accepted and put into practice all over the world despite the fact that the point of view he espouses is nothing more than a Utopian view of a form of neo-feudalism.
The problem with having discussions of this ilk with this particular person, and many others like him, is that it has a a tendency to quickly become emotional and break down into a shouting match. Admittedly, I am also very emotional about my philosophy, perhaps too emotional at times, and I will become frustrated and begin to shout if I feel someone is not listening to nor understanding what I'm saying. I personally have a tendency to be very verbose. I need to tell a story which can take some time and it gets very frustrating when the person I'm talking to doesn't have the patience to hear it through until my point is made. It is for these and other reasons I prefer to write about these things rather than discuss or debate them with one who holds onto collectivist beliefs.
As a result of my failings I am often knocked off subject when having such discussions before I can make my point. As an example, during one of the first discussions I had with this particular liberal I tried to discuss the history of the concept of rights and where that word came from, just to get a grasp of the basics. We were discussing one of his pet issues, health care insurance. I'm sure that most of those reading this have heard some kind of argument that we all have the "right" to health care. On the surface, that might sound innocuous and even correct, but on closer examination there are problems with that statement. To begin with, there is much uncertainty as to exactly what a right is. The concept itself is rather nebulous. That's because it is a concept and not a physical thing like a tree that one can point at and say, "See, there's a right." It is therefore sometimes necessary to revisit the origins of the word in order to form a more solid understanding of what a "right" is.
The word "right" comes from many different origins meaning basically to straighten or to make straight or to fix. It also comes from words which meant to rule or to be morally correct. So from the very beginning the concept of human "rights" has been confusing and ambiguous. The powers that be, those who would rule over the masses of mankind, used this ambiguity to craft with words justifications for their abuses of power.
Historically we can first take note of the use of the word "rights" when the concept of the rights of kings first came into vogue. This concept was used by feudal lords and kings to justify the horrendous manner in which they treated their serfs. The injustices that were perpetrated upon the masses were often so egregious that the common folk didn't know who to fear more, the king and his men who were charged with keeping order, or the outsiders who would occasionally threaten the kingdom.
The feudal lord believed that everything on his land was his property. This included the people that populated the lands around his castle or keep. Since these human beings were his to protect, and they were nothing but property instead of sovereign individuals, he could do with them as he saw fit. He had the right to treat them as he saw fit, even if that meant violating their humanity. To be honest I don't think their thought processes have changed all that much. I believe the powers that be still think they have rights that include the right to violate humanity. This in order to rule over them and instill their principles as they see fit, even if certain individuals are harmed, so long as it serves the ubiquitous "greater good." The masses, however, are evolving and their thought processes are changing as the times change.
One of the reasons The United States of America and its institutions was born was an answer to the innate injustices evident in the feudal way of thinking. The common folk of Europe were basically sick and tired of the centuries of being kicked around by their masters, the royalty of Europe. They began to realize that these lords didn't have the "right" to kick them around as they claimed, but instead had the might to do it. Just because one can do something doesn't mean one should do it, nor does it mean that one has the "right" to do it. In fact, it seems to me that if one has the might to do something and needs to use that might to force others to comply rather than letting others make their own decision as to what is best for them then maybe the idea one is trying to get compliance for is not such a good idea after all.
Modern society has come full circle. In the land I live in today, the land known as The United States of America, the socialists are trying to use the ambiguity of the word "right" to justify forcing their point of view and their will onto everyone else. They are trying to use the might of the federal government to force people to do business the way they want it done, and to buy the services that they think are important. They are, in fact, violating the rights of individuals in order to "protect" or "enforce" the "rights" of the more nebulous group or the greater good, much like the kings of old would use their might to enforce the rights of the king. They are saying the rights of certain groups trump the rights of the individual. They are wrong.
We all have the right to choose who we want to associate and do business with and who we don't want to associate and do business with, no matter the reason. By the same token, no one has the right to force another to associate with or do business with them, no matter the reason. One may have the might to do that, but not the right. For instance, the United States government has the might, the arms and the power to force me to buy healthcare insurance or face consequences it will thrust upon me, but it does not have the right to do so. In fact, there was a document written a couple of hundred years ago called the constitution that specifically forbade the federal government from doing such things. The problem is there's only nine people whose opinion counts on that matter, and they can be just as tyrannical as any king when it comes to matters of power and money.
Rights are not something that governments can hand out and take away as they see fit. They are natural. You have them. Government can only respect or violate them. Government all across the globe, even the federal government of the United States of America, have decided to violate or respect them since time immemorial. Once you allow government the power to violate rights, anyone's rights, because anyone means everyone, then inevitably it is likely we will have to fight to get government to once again respect those rights, such is the nature of the beast.
It is up to those of us who recognize a violation of rights to exercise our rights and speak up, no matter how many others may disagree, no matter how powerful those who disagree might be. This is what makes freedom of speech so important, and so valuable. Even as I write this there are those who would like to violate this freedom. There are individuals in positions of power who would prefer it if ideas such as I expressed here were never exposed to the light of day. And yet as the violations of other rights increase and the protections we have against such violations erode, that right and others that you may find sacred are more and more in danger of being targeted by the powers that be. The socialist would like to give government the power to violate any individual right it sees fit, the individualist would like to make certain that no entity has the power to violate an individual's rights with impunity. We have come a long way to get to the point where government even recognizes individual rights, I'd hate to see all that progress wiped away by some movement that calls itself progressive.
It has been a long time since I've typed up one of these op/ed pieces. I tried to make some money from them but I have failed miserably. I am certainly unable to make a living doing so or I would be able to write many more. I have to eke out a living delivering pizzas and therefore have to work as many hours as I possibly can to make a decent living. If you have read my articles and would like to see more, then kindly consider a small donation or, better yet, if you like sci/fi, fantasy, or the horror genre consider buying a copy of one of my ebooks. All monies are greatly appreciated and go to help me support myself because the socialists certainly aren't going to support me.