All mankind... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
In the 18th century the notion that the individual had the right to their own life came to the forefront of political discourse. Previously a persons' life could be subject and controlled by others; kings, potentates, owners, thugs, anyone willing to use force to impose their will on others.
I am not going to reiterate the milestones that brought us to this conclusion, nor will I state all the arguments, reasons, for this conclusion.
At this point in social development it should be an au priori argument. A settled matter for Western Civilization. I offer the contrast with our current conflict, the enemies of Western Civilization who do not hold the same fundamental viewpoint. They believe they are arbiters of the Will of Allah and thus can deprive others of life based on their interpretation of Allah's Will, they even believe the deaths of innocent civilians, women and children in the pursuit of Allah's Will is right and good.
I bring in the contrast to make the point if in our discussion we can't agree on this fundamental right, then the rest of the arguments are moot. Without the inalienable, intrinsic right to life, the rest of it: Liberty, Property, Happiness, Consent of the governed: None of is significant, none of it matters. When the individual can arbitrarily be deprived of life, how can there be Liberty and the rest? Without this cornerstone it all crumbles into chaos, barbarism, and rule of force.
This point, this right, is the product of 6000 years of social and religious history. It has taken the blood of countless numbers to establish the fact. Our own Revolutionary War, Civil war, World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam , Gulf War I and the current War are all rooted in preserving this simple, profound, ideal. Unfortunately this recognition of the right of life is not the natural state of man, it is the realization of enlightened man of a fundamental truth.
A persons' life is their own.
That said, let me state that I am currently discussing the individual, I am not yet going to add the complexities of society and governance of society. We must first come to an understanding of foundational principals. Then upon that foundation when can discuss what happens when the spheres of the individual interact, that those interaction creates societies and governments to regulate the interaction between individuals.
However you want to attribute the source, either divine or other. People have an intrinsic, innate and inviolate right to their own life.
This right is the first block in not only modern Western civilization, the cornerstone of conservative principals.
n., pl. -ties.
1) The condition of being free from restriction or control.
2) The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing.
3) The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor. See synonyms at freedom.
4) Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control.
5) A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference: the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.
Liberty; the individual living life meeting the definition above. The simplest approach is that since we have granted the individuals' right to life, does it not follow that the right to live that life in whatever manner is the prerogative of the individual? Any answer other than the affirmative would by necessity bringing us back to examine the first question.
Living this life, in Liberty as an individual, sovereign with no other controlling authority follows the same historical route as the right to life, for one flows logically into the other. If you have the right to your life without interference, therefore you also have the right to live that life with out interference.
Again I remind you that we are talking about a lone individual, the solitary individual without regard to the interaction with others. We be bring the interactions between individuals to the discussion after we lay the foundation to build those interactions upon.
Once again I will not "prove" the individuals right to Liberty, or show the historical, philosophical, legal stepping stones to the acceptance in Western Civilization of the concept of individual Liberty. If we cannot agree to this concept of individual Liberty we are in far greater peril from that than any external threat.
Property: and subsequent Pursuit Happiness.
Property is Life, Life is Property.
The two are interchangeable, and synonymous.
How can I say that? Take our lone individual to whom we have granted Life and Liberty. Put in a place where he can obtain all he needs to survive. This individual then uses wood and stone to build a shelter, domesticates livestock, harvests grains and fruits in his vicinity. The shelter, livestock and food stocks are property obtain by the individual using his intellect and spending time and effort, a portion of his life to gather the property.
In society we use the medium of exchange, money, to convert life to property. The individual works for a period of time, exchanging a portion of his life with an employer for money; the money is then exchanged for property. Conversely we can reverse the equation, exchange property for time. Most commonly leisure time, time not caring for the necessities, using previously acquired property in exchange for time to do other things we also exchange money with others to get them to do things for us.
Responsibility of our solitary, non-societal individual. Please pay careful attention to the responsibility of this individual. There is no one to provide this individual anything. He must use his time, a portion of his lifespan to provide the necessities of life. This responsibility is not lost upon moving into a society.
The right to property is the most difficult for some. This difficulty is rooted the "zero sum" fallacy. The false idea that there is a finite amount of property to be had. This leads to the conclusion that if one person has a lot, it was gained at the expenses of others. The truth is property is created when an individual uses his time to create it. This is clearest with intellectual property, a book, and a song a product purely of the mind. Bill Gates is worth in the neighborhood of $50 billion dollars, that was created out of nothing, no ore was mined, no crop sowed and harvested, no natural material was used in the creation of his property. The wealth of Bill and Microsoft is demonstrably created, not taken from another person. It also applies to resources. Resources are essentially useless in situ, iron ore is just rock until people over time applied intellect and time to figuring out how to extract metal from rock and make useful items.
Given that property is the result of the expenditure of the individuals' life in exchange for the property and we agree that the individual has full right to life and liberty what other conclusion can there be but the individual has full right also over the property acquired in this manner?
Logically there can be no other conclusion. When we grant the right to life, what follows is the right to live that life, and what ever is produced by that life must be the property of the individual living that life.
If as some will claim the individual does not have the right all to the product of his life, they are claiming some portion of that individuals life, and subsequently can ultimately lay claim to the life of another person, traditionally this is called slavery.
Pursuit of Happiness recognizes that not all seek property, or wealth. That some individuals seek no temporal rewards, either in charitable efforts, pursuit of religious enlightenment, or personal fulfillment in arts, academic and intellectual efforts. Realizing however that pursuit of happiness does in no way relive the individual of personal responsibility for their own welfare.
The individual with complete right to life liberty and property is wholly sovereign over their person and property
The concept of Individual Sovereignty is so basic in Western Civilization that it should be accepted as dogma.
a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
The authority in the case is society; the principle has been laid down over the last 6000 years of social development. This concept should be taken as dogma, as incontrovertibly true; yet in western society this principle is under attack, not from outside, but from members of our own society.
Individual Sovereignty based on Life, Liberty, Property is the bedrock conservative principle, it is from this concept, this idea that the rights of individual derive. All the principles of conservatism are built on this foundational philosophy.
Individual sovereignty, and the rights based on this principle are under attack. From what you eat, to what you can do, when you can do it is under attack. Unless the fractions of society can agree to a few core, shared principles, that society has no common ground for surviving.
Consent of the Governed:
So far I have laid down the argument for individual sovereignty for the lone person. However when we have two people their spheres of sovereignty are bound to overlap and conflict. The result is a loss of sovereignty for the weaker individual. We know from human history that given the opportunity for one individual to take from another instead of producing on their own is highly likely and commonplace. It is imperative for us to recognize the baser instincts of an individual is to take the route to barbarism and take property, liberty and life from weaker individuals to enrich themselves. The entire history of man is the struggle between his higher nature, seeking life and liberty, and easier path, barbarism seeking power and wealth at the expense of others. That individual sovereignty has only been the prevalent philosophical thought in the last 250 years, and only dominated in forms of government in the last 50 years is testament to the bitterness of the struggle and the tendencies of human nature. Make no mistake eternal vigilance is the price of liberty if you learn only one lesson from history learn this one: This concept of Life, Liberty and Property can only be maintained at great effort and cost. Respecting the Life, Liberty and Property of other individuals is not nor will it ever be the natural state of man.
Society is in essence a convention between people on how to balance the tension between individuals and the needs of society for a peaceable existence. Place two sovereign individuals in a valley and tension will arise over resources. Society arises in order to govern the competing needs and desires of those two individuals.
The key to this society of two is that they must mutually agree to the covenants of the society. The consent to be govenered by rules set forth for their society. As long as they both uphold the rules of the society, the society will function. When one breaks the rules, there must be consequences to the violation of societal rules; otherwise there is no society.
We can add as many individuals to this society as we want. Membership in a legitimate, functioning society is voluntary, the individual may leave at anytime when they no longer feel the society meets their needs. The individuals within the society consent to the governance, and the society meets its obligations under known and understood terms.
Consent of the Governed is larger concept than a particular administration. Here in the US we consent to a government of a Representative Republic in which the Rule of Law dominates. As long as you chose to live here you are consenting to this form of government. Here in Washington there are real and valid concerns to the legitimacy of the current occupant of the Governors office. This problem in no way affects the Washington residents' Consent to Washington's government, the issue is one of how elections are run, the legal system is functioning, and the application of law.
Consent to be Governed is granted by choosing to live here. Non-participation, i.e. not voting is de-facto consent, voting and participation in the process is positive consent. This consent is valid until such a time as the agreement is broken, this is normally seen in the usurpation of the peoples consent by the dismantling of the form and type of government and the laws of an existing government. Conversely the people can when they believe government is not longer operating with their consent legitimately, and rightly by any means replace the government with a government of consent.
Core Conservative Values:
Life, Liberty, Property and Consent of the Governed. While these values being eroded as the core of Western Civilization, this erosion is not going unnoticed or without opposition. Maintaining these values is the key political fight, and in the final analysis a winning strategy.
"We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Hillary Clinton, San Francisco, June 2004.
Following our political traditions that phrase should be;
"We are going to ask you to give up some things for the common good."
Therein lies the crucial difference between conservative and liberal values. Respect for Life, Liberty and Property, and Consent of the Governed vs. imposed government and the ruling class granting Life, Liberty, and Property when convenient to and approved by the rulers.
Building a solid intellectual foundation on these principals, understanding them and applying them is crucial to conservatism. Once these principals are internalized and applied consistently making decisions on individual issues is made much easier.
Life, Liberty, Property.