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Why, according to some anarchists, is the concept of 'rights' a mistake?

+5 votes
So I don't think that rights are magic or that they're discovered or anything -- clearly people make them up.  But do 'rights' really, always and everywhere, flow from the state?  Don't some 'rights' (ideally) protect one from the state?  Human rights as opposed to legal rights say?  Isn't it OK to have some basic standards for our treatment of one another and can't that be totally independent of the concept of the state?  And, finally, can't new rights take political / social space away from the state and capital?  For example wouldn't the concept of housing as a basic human right take some space away from the idea that property rights should be primary and form the foundation of the social order?

New questions:

So are rights *always* or only enforced by the state or by appealing to a higher authority?  (For example: if I believe in a right to abortion and I help establish a community clinic that performs abortions.)

Can the concept of 'desire' replace the concept of 'rights?'  What are the implications of this?  If it doesn't replace this concept what are some of the consequences of eliminating a discourse of 'rights?'  How does one talk about the importance of people's access to basic resources or the importance of eliminating torture (for example) outside of this discourse.

Thanks!
asked Jun 18, 2010 by anonymous
edited Jun 22, 2010
interesting question. i also agree with dot, that it is far from solely an insurrectionist question. a couple of years back, i think one of the most widely discussed issues amongst some anti-globalization academics was the question of "whether human rights are ethnocentric?"... i'm going to try and dig up my long lost response to this question, but unfortunately i think it is lost down the memory hole (among the many other pieces of writing one loses when a computer crashes with no backup). perhaps, i feel that if the question was phrased that way, it may be a little easier to respond too, or not... but, i do like where you are going with this.
It seems that maybe anarchist go overboard that if something is bad it came from the "state".  "Rights" is a concept that unbalances the scale of resolution and community.  It over emphasizes the importance of the individual or group, rather than seeing everyone as factors.  To enforce or favor the importance of one over another does not lead to a "best answer" but leads to the advantage of one's position and outcome over another.  "Rights" also do not fix the problem for which they are created.   Probably rather than rights coming from the state, they appease the wrongness of the states, as a trade off of voluntary oppression.  Whereas we are ok with taxes as long as we are represented (WTFudge).  We are ok with whatever the government does as long as we can speak against it.  We are ok that someone can remain silent in their best interest rather than to own-up to their mistake or the damage they have created, of course with a justice system that resolve nothing other than some form of vengeance perhaps that is not such a bad choice.  

Rights try to created an artificial solution rather than to create the conditions where our words matter, where we as people choose our own conditions of life and are not enslaved to any state.  And where justice and the need for punishment no longer exists but where issues are worked out to the best solution of all involved, where truth is not a confession but explains the conditions and choices of the event in order to prevent reoccurrence and undo the damage that was done as much a reasonable possible.
i voted up on this one just because it asks a lot of good questions and clearly creates confusion

;-)
As an odd/interesting historical aside, Proudhon (not necessarily your go-to guy on questions of desire) actually reimagined "rights" in a non-governmental sense, positing an equal "right" for all of the natural demands that living, evolving beings place on the world around them as the continue to exist and grow. "Justice" then became a question of balancing those demands. So there is at least an opening to this rethinking in terms of at least something like "desire" that goes a long way back.

3 Answers

+5 votes
 
Best answer
Rights always come from the state. The idea that rights should be written into law was developed when people were so pissed about getting stepped on and ruled over by sovereign powers that the governments had to do something. So they made a tremendous shift into a system of politics called liberalism (not the same as liberalism as in liberal vs. conservative or liberal vs. maoist) in which the law recognizes the rights of citizens. These laws serve to not only convince citizens that they aren't going to be stepped on as hard but also to ensure that people will appeal for recognition of their rights by the state or a change in the rights written in law, rather than revolt when they have grievances.

It is a remarkably successful political system, in which revolt now tends to happen only when the system is clearly fucking people over and clearly not going to change itself. Even then, revolt can be settled by implementing some larger systematic change or having a revolutionary government take over.

Anarchists do not want protection from the state. Or, to put it another way, a truly anarchist life guarantees that one will not be protected by the state, and instead punished by it. The state offers protection to (certain normal, decent, law-abiding, good, productive, etc) citizens in exchange for their preservation, reproduction and reformation of the status quo.

An alternative understanding would be that rights are first and foremost inherent to our being human, and only secondly is this 'real' human essence recognized by the state. I would reject this because no one can point to the existence of these essential rights except in the writings of law (whether international or national). There isn't an inherent human essence, or if there is it would be a highly paradoxical, enigmatic "thing".

To appeal (to the state) for the establishment of greater rights does not "take away space" from the state. It would seem that only revolt can actually wrench spaces from state control, but even then, state-forms manage to creep in through the back door (the implementation of self-management among the insurgents).

As for alternative discourse, I don't see the need for one. For anyone to actually achieve the essence of what you are talking about -- to live free of the domination of state and capital in their lives -- they would have to live fighting against domination and not appeal it to recognize the importance of their needs or how cruel torture is. In other words, they would have to become a non-subject. And only subjects can have rights.
answered Feb 26, 2011 by anok (18,970 points)
edited Feb 26, 2011 by anok
"rights always come from the state"  o.O
hey anok, i like the answer but i also find the whole reform vs. insurrection a little troubling...i guess sometimes i like the idea of revolt as a form of juijitsu? Clearly trying to parcel out/redistribute resources through some sort of governing body is messed up from the start, but is absolutism really the best thing here?
We can imagine rights that do not, in fact, come from a state, but I don't think we can imagine rights that do not ultimately come from some real or imagined collectivity with authority over the individuals associated with it.
+2 votes
insurrectionists aren't even close to being the ones to come up with an anti-"rights" argument.
in fact, i found a pretty decent comments re: the problem with rights at  organise!

... Our objection to rights rests on their political content. Rights are only of use if they can be enforced. To which we must ask - who decides what rights there are and who will make sure they are put into effect? This cannot be simply side-stepped by more 'democratic' or anarchist forms of decision making. The idea of rights presupposes that there is a correct answer to be discovered and that makes it an issue for experts. Anarchists do not believe that there are factual answers to how people interact. It effects everyone in a community and everyone should participate in the decision making process. No one is greater expert on you than yourself. Of course if you want to build a house you would be foolish not to consult people with expertise in architecture or bricklaying but they have no greater knowledge than anyone else in the community as to whether a house needs to be built. These types of decision can be blurred on occasion but with rights we can see a definite difference. Rights are the product of a hierarchical society. If you are in dispute with someone over a clash of rights you must appeal to a higher authority. When decisions go against people in British courts they go to the European Court of Human Rights. Regardless of whether they win or lose they have surrendered control of their own lives to someone else. We are not saying that the idea of rights is a manipulative con by capitalism to divert rebellion into acceptable channels but it is product of capitalist, individualistic and authoritarian thinking which cannot serve as the basis for a society of freedom and equality.
http://www.afed.org.uk/org/issue45/aspects.html

(i would change the "insurrectionary" tag you applied. this isn't an insurrectionary issue.)
answered Jun 18, 2010 by dot (51,520 points)
No problem with late responses (though sometimes I do change my mind about things hahah). I'm not sure what "pm in bolo'bolo" is ...I'll have to look that up. I'll admit that it when people start talking about "Rights" it is a red flag to me as well. I think your point about new symbols makes a lot of sense even though I didn't get the whole context of it. It would probably be better for another question to get into these issues of word choice and what ideologies tend to correspond with various phrases or conceptions of life.

Thanks for the response ;)
pm is the author of a book called bolo'bolo (originally in german). the book discusses a future in which society is formed into groups of roughly 500 people each (called bolos), each of which is organized around something that the people choose (cigar-smoking bolos, left-handed bolos, these are silly examples, but...). it's the best anarchist utopia vision i've ever read - truly decentralized and expressing many of the values that i care about - like traveling and staying, choice and no-choice, etc.
I've not read this book you mention, but your talk of these bolos organised around the collective interest's and perhaps, dare I say, cultures of each individual in these bolos raises an interesting question for me. How would you feel if there was a cigar smoking bolo, a left-handed bolo and a bolo where only white people were allowed? I am not advocating this sort of thing, I'm just curious as to what you yourself and others would think of what seems to me to be a natural(though personally objectionable) extension to this communitarian based society.

i would be delighted that the people who only wanted to be around white  people were all in one place so that they could be easily avoided.

the issue is not dumb decisions. the issue is power over other people. if the white (edit: people) isolationists start to gain power and dominate others, then there's a problem. the same is true for cigar-smokers.
and those evil evil left-handers!

dot: "i would be delighted that the people who only wanted to be around white people were all in one place so that they could be easily avoided."

yes!

–5 votes

i think that a lot of people are missing the point on this one.

i'm not a religious person, but one could view anarchism's critique of liberalism similarly to jesus' critique of the jewish law. liberals have this wide swath of rules meant to govern how states and people interact with each other. anarchists would say that there is but one simple rule, articulated in a wide variety of manners, but here in the old english saying: 'an' it harm none, do what ye will'. 

but can any of us cite an example of a human right (not related to private property, in a traditional socialist definition: means of production, land, etc) that we explicitly disagree with? i would claim that we mostly cannot.

regarding natural law, let's take a step back to where it came from. we've all become very confused about this. for, aquinas would never have claimed that the natural law is an ethereal force or an authority. to the contrary, he would have claimed that it is to be arisen at individually through reason. aquinas' concept of natural law - which early liberal and anarchist thinkers wholly adopted - most closely resembled what we today call secular humanism. anarchists may be moral nihilists, but it is merely a step in reasoning rather than an end of it. we may reject absolute morality, but we would not reject our own logical intuitions as to what is just and what is not. we just claim that it is a human construction, arisen at through reason and carried out not because we are forced to but because we want to.

there are two kinds of rights: rights that individuals have in opposition to the state and rights that humans have in opposition to each other. in the first case, the fundamental issue is property. the right to food is about property. the right to shelter is about property. after all, the purpose of the state is to protect property. anarchists are consequently going to have a hard time with these kinds of rights, because we neither believe in the state nor in property. we would rather abolish both, and the rights laws that come with them, than accept the hierarchy they put in place. but, none of us would claim that we are not all entitled to food or to shelter.

in the second case, a moment's reflection is required: we would not have so many court cases in front of us that attempt to rule on human rights if we did not have so many violations. and, the underlying issues are often very deep seated. i think that anarchists should view this class of rights as an experiment. what it's doing is slowly putting in place the framework that we will one day adopt, when we are ready. it would be nice to claim that we do not need this - but, unfortunately, at the moment, we clearly do. we cannot abolish hierarchy overnight. there's not really a way around this in the short run - an anarchist society would need a tort-like system to deal with personal conflicts until the proper behaviour becomes enforced as social norms.

so, it's really a very subtle point. and it reduces mostly to the issue of property.

answered Aug 30, 2015 by deathtokoalas (70 points)
edited Aug 30, 2015 by deathtokoalas

"we've all become very confused about this"

all but you, apparently.

none of us would claim that we are not all entitled to food or to shelter.

i would absolutely say that people are not entitled to food or shelter. where does such "entitlement" come from? who determines it, and where do they get their authority?

we would provide the entitlement because we want to. it doesn't come from a greater source. it doesn't have to. this is a strawman argument. we have the right to make the rules that we want. we don't have to draw from an authority. this is the point.

these are the kinds of arguments you get from 12 year-olds that base their ideas of anarchism on sex pistols records.

why exactly is it that you wish to abolish the state, if it is not to create a system of distributive justice? if you don't believe people have rights, why not just leave the state in place to continue to enforce barbarism through property relations?
there has never been a literary form of anarchism that denies the rights to food or shelter through a fair distribution of resources. if you don't accept these principles, you are not an anarchist. you are merely a barbarian.
i do find it interesting when people start calling other people names.

DtK, you throw around a lot of jargon, by which i mean terms with meanings that probably seem obvious to you, but that assume a lot. for example, "distributive justice," "denies the rights to food or shelter" (denying access to food or shelter is different from "denying the right to", hence the question we're addressing), "fair", etc.

also, many associations that make no sense, a la " if you don't believe people have rights, why not just leave the state in place to continue to enforce barbarism through property relations?"

you aren't arguing when you just repeat your statements.

your "we" presumes a lot also. who is this we who chooses to provide entitlement? how do you find them? what do you do to people who disagree with your "we"?

and what exactly does "a literary form of anarchism" mean?

being called a 12 year old barbarian has made my day! thanks!

dtk: "we would provide the entitlement because we want to. it doesn't come from a greater source. "

how, exactly, is the "we" that you refer to, not a "greater source"? it points directly to the generalized concept of "society", which pretty much by definition takes precedence over any individual. which, in turn, completely negates any possible claim to "individual autonomy."  (from the dictionary definition of "liberalism," which you - in the other thread, i think - basically equated with anarchism.)

but no doubt you will find some intellectualized rationalization for the contradictions in your ideology, probably by quoting some 19th century greybeard (as if that makes it fact), to whose ideas yours seem to be tethered.

I don't understand how I have a right to food, shelter, and water? How does that work without someone enforcing that? Your mention of a civil law type of system to enforce socially accepted norms doesn't sound like any anarchist society I want to have anything to do with.

In one of your comments to dot, you referred to dot as a barbarian. I'd like to know what's wrong with barbarians? All it means is one that's part of a group/society that's not a civilization. I guess it was probably used as an insult.

i think we use too many fucking words.

(by "we" i mean me and almost everyone i know in person or cyberspace)

i think it's clear that i'm dealing with a collection of ancaps, randians, thatcherites, primitivists, thoreauvians, lifestyle anarchists and other people that throw the word around without a clue as to what it means. so, i'm going to be going away, soon.

hopefully i've got a bit of a trail here for random onlookers.

but, the term "distributive justice" is as fundamental to anarchism as the term "anarchism" is itself. it's really not possible to begin to have a discussion about anarchism and rights, or anarchism at all, without bringing in this concept.

unless you're taking some thatcherite position that "society doesn't exist" or something, which it seems like some of you are. but this is not anarchism in any literary sense. it's a dictionary definition used to construct what is essentially status quo neo-liberalism.

anarchism does not just pre-suppose a society, it is a set of rules for people to live by to ensure that such a society can function without the need for centralized control. that is not what it says in the dictionary. but it is the crux of the philosophy called libertarianism that came out of the left of the french revolution.

but, the question of who the "we" is does bring up a fundamental point, one that would be well understood by the people that are posting here if they'd actually ever read any anarchist philosophy. anarchism is a social movement; again it does not just pre-suppose society, it is a means to transform society. so, what do you do with the people that disagree? this is the challenge in getting there. an anarchist society could not function if it needs to be policed. there's a place for freedom of association; it needs to be taken for granted that anarchists would use the tool of ostracism to prevent capitalist or hierarchical systems from re-establishing themselves. to boycott capitalism itself. and, this would be relatively easy so long as property rights are abolished. but, it requires a majority adherence to function. we cannot have anarchism if anarchists are only a minority. we can only have anarchism if the majority accepts the moral principles underlying it, without the need for any police to enforce it. i share the viewpoint of many that this could be accomplished relatively quickly, with the need for minimal institutions to resolve conflict resolution. most conflicts are about property.

when i say a literary form of anarchism, i mean the type that exists as written expositions. this is contrasted with something like lifestyle anarchism, which is generally written off by actual anarchists as "dumb hippie bullshit".

"how, exactly, is the "we" that you refer to, not a "greater source"? it points directly to the generalized concept of "society", which pretty much by definition takes precedence over any individual. which, in turn, completely negates any possible claim to "individual autonomy."  (from the dictionary definition of "liberalism," which you - in the other thread, i think - basically equated with anarchism.)"

see, you're getting lost in this insistence on nothing. anarchism is not nihilism. it's not the absence of anything. that is neo-liberalism. it is the abolition of authority. if you and i get together and decide that we're not going to kill each other because it's in our best interests, that's not an appeal to authority. that's just a social contract between us to agree to abide by rules that will make us both better off. we don't need to appeal to any source. we can just decide this is good for us. *and this is the epiphany that is anarchism, and which you are completely missing*.

the abolition of authority does not lie in the absence of rules. it lies in the absence of the enforcement of the rules. if we all agree to the rules, there is no enforcement and consequently no authority. there are simply people agreeing to rules. and we can talk darwin on that, if you want. dawkins is a good introductory source for this; he made multiple videos explaining the concept of reciprocal altruism.

there's not a contradiction there between the individual and the collective. again: your rejection of society is status quo neo-liberalism. there is no anarchist theory that would adopt this. anarchism seeks to bridge this gap by understanding the individual and the collective as a holistic whole that cannot be separated into parts. we can only truly have individual rights with collective rights and vice versa. liberalism is certainly a different spin on this (it usually pulls a state into the equation), but it's not fundamentally different.

"but no doubt you will find some intellectualized rationalization for the contradictions in your ideology, probably by quoting some 19th century greybeard (as if that makes it fact), to whose ideas yours seem to be tethered."

well, it's a nineteenth century philosophy. and, you know, some of these people were pretty smart. you might try reading some of what they wrote.

"I don't understand how I have a right to food, shelter, and water? How does that work without someone enforcing that?"

so, anarchism is a left-wing idea. like all left-wing ideas, it seeks to place property in the hands of people through the abolition of property rights.

consider the current system. a farmer owns property. they grow food on that property. they sell the food. so, in order to gain access to the food, you have to perform a task for some other person to generate the income to buy the food. it is this specific social relation that anarchism specifically and totally rejects. we do not distinguish between wage slavery and actual slavery. anybody that is working in exchange for a wage is a slave. and all slavery must be abolished.

our solution is to seize that property. is that violence? no. what is violent is trying to prevent the seizure. the theft and violence and exploitation is in owning the property. abolishing that property relation is a process of liberation. and, because the state exists to prevent people from abolishing property, the state will need to be abolished, too.

now that property is abolished, and the state along with it, the better question to ask is who prevents us from eating? we may all go to the fields and pick the fruit as we choose. the abolition of property allows us to exercise our natural rights.

modern technology provides for a lot more possibilities than existed in the nineteenth century. but the basic idea remains the same: by abolishing property, you abolish the relation that *prevents* people from accessing what they are entitled to. this is the anarchist concept of the right to food - and the reason that we seek to abolish the state,

dtk: "you're getting lost in this insistence on nothing. anarchism is not nihilism. it's not the absence of anything. that is neo-liberalism."

1. when did i insist on "nothing"? or bring up nihilism at all? 

2. you are equating nihilism with neo-liberalism? neo-lib is the absence of anything?  holy shit! pass the crack pipe.

sorry, chap, but "social anarchism" is not the only legitimate anarchist perspective. no matter how many times you repeat yourself that it is.  (anarchisteve, is that you?)

and just fyi, you are not the only anarchist here to read relevant historical texts. some of us simply reject some aspects of those texts, adapt others to the reality of our lived experience, and actually have complete affinity with others.

that is what it means to not be dogmatic. 

"when i say a literary form of anarchism, i mean the type that exists as written expositions."

and to you, that is the only legitimate way for anarchy to exist, in written texts? no wonder you're so opposed to anarchists that actually try to live their anarchy within the context of this shithole.

"we can only have anarchism if the majority accepts the moral principles underlying it"

yeah, keep waiting for your "anarchism". meanwhile, some of us will be living our anarchy without worrying about a "majority".

dtk: "i think it's clear that i'm dealing with a collection of ancaps, randians, thatcherites, primitivists, thoreauvians, lifestyle anarchists..."

i think you like to throw around a bunch of labels.

and i'd still like to know what you mean by someone "having the right" to something.

@dtk, you don't need to write a wall-o-text to not answer my question. My question wasn't about preventing anyone from doing anything, but on how I or anyone have these magical rights to food, shelter, and water?

I think the fact that you equated neoliberalism with nihilism, indicates you probably don't understand what these terms mean or the list of terms you decided to refer to everyone else as, while you're bringing everyone the gospel news on what true anarchism is. 

Neoliberalism is mainly an idea based on economics and seeks to move towards a more laissez-faire system with the opening up the markets and deregulation and a few other things. It's not the absence of anything. 

you're describing classical liberalism. neo-liberalism is focused much more on the abolition of connecting social structures, in favour of total atomism. thatcher famously stated that society does not exist; no classical liberal would hold that position. classical liberals naively thought that everybody focusing on their own self-interest would benefit society; neo-liberals deny that such a society exists, and instead elevate selfishness to a virtue (via ayn rand). for example, the idea of converting housework into wage labour is staunchly neo-liberal - despite being argued by many on the left. classical liberals would not have argued this.

as i've stated repeatedly, rights do not need to have a source. that is a strawman argument.

if we get a room of people together and decide that we have a right to cake on sundays and will all work together to ensure we all have cake on sundays, then we have a right to cake on sundays. we don't need some magical source. we can just make shit up as we please. and that's the epiphany in abolishing authority, rather than some neurotic insistence on doing everything possible to reduce it, which is in truth some kind of liberalism.

"if we get a room of people together and decide that we have a right to cake on sundays and will all work together to ensure we all have cake on sundays, then we have a right to cake on sundays."

that is not a "right", that is a decision, and some followup action. why does the word - or concept - of rights even come into play there?

rights are never anything more than collective decisions. this fantastical idea of them existing in some ether is just that - a fantasy. i've gone out of my way to reject this, yet you continue to come back to it. but, they need not be determined by states and enforced via violence. they may be determined by popular will and enforced by choice.

A strawman is when I misrepresent your claims and then knock them down. I haven't done that. You and your pals eating cake on Sunday isn't a "right." A "right" is basically an entitlement. Entitlement is when the government or some other authority guarantees a person benefits to something. I don't see how just making up these "rights" as "we please" is anti-authoritarian in any way. Neoliberalism believes in an unregulated market and the way things should be run is by just letting the market decide. On economics, classical liberalism believes that their should be some sort of regulation to an extent. 

You like to use a lot of labels towards people and have strange ideas on what they mean. I do find it deliciously ironic that you came on here proclaiming the gospel your brew of anarchism is the only true form anarchism. 

you just presented the same strawman i've been pointing out repeatedly, again, as you claim you're not presenting a strawman.

and, neoliberalism - like liberalism - relies on state subsidies to exist, because markets are silly, imaginary things that do not actually exist in reality. the point was that neo-liberalism is entirely bereft of any concept of morality. it's ethical component is objectivism, which is entirely nihilist.

nor have i even discussed my own ideas of anarchism. i'm going to avoid doing so, here. i'm really just laying down the 101.

and, this discussion has become very trite.

I read a book filled with "literary anarchists" once called The Bomb about the Haymarket incident. Other than the quotes taken from historic anarchists involved in the Haymarket, none of them much resembled any anarchists I've known. Not even the ones who still think the left and anarchy can be reconciled.

dtk: now you are defining rights as decisions, and nothing more. so, you are taking an astoundingly basic and direct interaction between individuals - making a decision - and injecting an entirely abstract, ideological spook into it. (i don't use that word - spook - often, but it surely applies here).

why would you even think of decisions as "rights"?  how does that even work in your mind?  why are you so dogmatically attached to the concept of rights that you have to overlay it (in what seems like ideological desperation) on fundamental and tangible interactions between human beings - which have no need for, or relationship to, the commonly understood concept of "rights"? you are making up your own definition of the term, and it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

consider those questions rhetorical (or even food for thought), since i have little doubt that any answers you respond with will be ever more of the same repetition. and i doubt i will respond again. good luck.

you continue to erect a framework of rights that no rights theorist ever would erect. it's a strawman constructed by karl marx.

no rights theorist has ever argued that rights are ever anything more than decisions. and it's very ironic that you're not able to get over this requirement that a right be an authority. i'm not answering your questions because they have absolutely nothing to do with any concept of human rights that has ever been seriously articulated. it's like asking me why flowers decide to eat people. you can't answer this.

a right is *not* different than any other decision. it's arrived at through logic. it's decided upon collectively. it's enforced through choice. and, despite these marxist strawmen, the reality is that no rights theorist - *ever* - has argued otherwise.
i need you to understand, and demonstrate that you understand, that your entire concept of rights theorists is a strawman before this can continue. we cannot continue further so long as you insist that rights are some kind of magic, entirely on the projection of your own imagination.

"a right is *not* different than any other decision."

then why bother with rights at all? if my decisions are nothing more than...well...my decisions, why all the fuss?

"it's arrived at through logic."

i didn't realize all decisions were logical. and what logical system are you referring to exactly? 'logic' is a vague term.

" it's decided upon collectively."

you just stated that rights are no different than any other decision, now you're telling us my decisions must be decided on 'collectively' in addition to being derived through some mysterious logical system you've not yet named.

"it's enforced through choice"

wtf?! so my choosing enforces itself? kinda long-winded for saying 'I choose' dontcha think?

dtk: "rights are never anything more than collective decisions."

and..."a right is *not* different than any other decision."

ok, so two people choose to have sex....that means they "have a right" to have sex.

a neighborhood of people get together and decide to kill another person ....means that they "have the right" to kill the person.

if a bunch of friends get together and watch the superbowl on television.....that means they have the right to watch it.

i decided to go for a walk today....means i have the right to take a walk.

i think i get it now.

i just decided (oops, i mean, i just realized i have the right) to stop writing about this subject now.

'i just decided (oops, i mean, i just realized i have the right) to stop writing about this subject now.'

i don't know ba@, i don't think you're being logical here, therefore your decision isn't a decision... or i mean a right...or is that a right decision...or a decisive right...ah shit. now i'm befuddled. ;-)

@dtk why is everything a "marxist strawman" to you? Screaming strawman a lot doesn't make it so and it makes it hard to take you seriously. I never claimed any form of liberalism didn't rely on the state. I briefly explained what the terms meant when you equated them with nihilism and anarchism on another question. 

I'm flabbergasted as to why you're obsessed with "rights" when you just meant a decision. Why not just use the word decision instead? Albeit a decision that needs collective approval. Before you scream strawman, you literally wrote that "a right is *not* different than any other decision... it's decided upon collectively."

"
i just decided (oops, i mean, i just realized i have the right) to stop writing about this subject now."

baa, nope, your decision right to stop writing hasn't been collectively approved or went through the collective approval process. :P

we don't speak of rights differently. but, we may speak of them specifically for the simple reason that they're a category of decision, one that comes in force under the person-person social contract that was described by proudhon. that doesn't mean they're inherently different, or exist with the force of some greater authority. it's just convenient to pull together certain types of agreements and talk of them in the same breath. 

and, of course, there are certain rights that really do rely on a state. property rights are impossible without a state, as they directly contradict other types of rights and consequently must be enforced through violence.

your sarcastic examples describe why anarchism understands itself as a social movement. should individuals start making decisions that are outside the public good on a large scale, then a truly free society would reserve the right to expel those individuals because it would not be shackled by an ideology (like liberalism) that restricts it from acting in it's own interests. on a small scale, reciprocal altruism would put these people at a disadvantage that would face them with exclusion and ostracism. note that i have not claimed that rights are inalienable. and, this is where logic asserts itself. we may imagine that there are endless possibilities. but, in fact we do not have these endless choices: should we choose to be irrational, we will be excluded, so long as there is not a system to uphold our irrationality (as there is today). those who share will be more successful than those who steal. those who collaborate will be more successful than those who compete. etc.

again: this is anarchism 101. and i'm wasting my time.

in theory, there is nothing preventing any group of people from deciding that they have the right to kill each other. that has nothing to do with anarchism, rights theory, constitutions or anything else. obama could introduce that to the house tomorrow, and if it passes it exists. but, such a society would not be very successful or last very long, for the precise reason that this is entirely irrational.

"anarchism understands itself as a social movement"

no. 'anarchism' doesn't speak nor does 'anarchism' understand anything. people do. you do. anarchism-as-social-movement is your understanding, an understanding you perhaps share with others, but not me, and seemingly not with others here at @101.

flesh and blood people converse, and those topics of conversation change as conditions change. 'anarchism' isn't a thing, an object, an in-itself, much less a living body, but a convenient label for a tendency toward certain patterns of living, which includes, in large part, a disdain for all forms of coercive authority.  for me this further includes the process of civilizing/domesticating which seems to have always relied upon just such coercion (a critique and questioning you've already pooh-poohed with no further ado).  

'i'm wasting my time.'

that may be the most sensible statement you've made thus far from this anarchist's perspective.

edited for clarity.

af: your patience exceeds even dot's, in this case.  :-)

as an aside: i saw recently in some comment (not even sure what question) someone asked for an explanation of reification. i think you got a good start here:

"... 'anarchism' isn't a thing, an object, an in-itself, much less a living body,"

"markets are silly, imaginary things that do not actually exist in reality"

but rights, on the other hand, ....  

lol and rofl don't come close to how hard i am laughing right now!

(for the record, this comment is NOT targeted at the koala killer. it's an inside joke for us non-anarchists)

@dtk you're very repetitive. I don't think you've actually addressed a question directed at you, but instead hand waved them away by calling a 'marxist strawman' without attempting to explain why it's a 'strawman.' You have repeatedly wrote right theorists, Proudhon, social contract, 'anarchism is a social movement,' liberalism = anarchism but at other times it doesn't, neoliberalism, nihilism...etc, without actually writing anything about them. The only thing I got from you is, you believe a right is any and every decision because logic through collective approval and not a 'marxist strawman.'

[beating a dead horse, here...]

a quote from an article on @news, which i think is quite relevant to (particularly) dtk's interactions here on this subject:

"Ideology castrates the ideas one has, turning them into sterile and mummified dogmas that cannot exist beyond their initial form.  If we are going to challenge the existing order, we will have to move beyond ideology. This does not mean abdicating from our ideas and principles, but their constant re-evaluation and development."

funky@; recall Nietzsche in _Twilight of the Idols_:

You ask me which of the philosophers' traits are most characteristic? For example, their lack of historical sense, their hatred of the very idea of becoming, their Egypticism. They think that they show their respect for a subject when they dehistoricize it sub specie aeternitas — when they turn it into a mummy. Everything that philosophers handled over the past thousands of years turned into concept mummies; nothing real escaped their grasp alive. Whenever these venerable concept idolators revere something, they kill it and stuff it; they suck the life out of everything they worship. ('Reason' In Philosophy)

ba@, you wrote: "i think we use too many fucking words.

(by "we" i mean me and almost everyone i know in person or cyberspace)"

as it happens, i've been reading Annie Le Brun's _The Reality Overload_. You, and other anarchists, may find it worthwhile.

thanks for the suggestion, AF. i had that one on my list after i saw it mentioned in a book i read called the idler.

also thanks for suggesting david abrams' books. i just finished reading Becoming Animal (which i liked a lot) and plan to read Spell of the Sensous next.

 

good call on annie le brun, af. though i have only read excerpts, a very close friend has read much of her stuff (in the context of critique of feminism) and has read some great stuff to me.

some years ago we tried to get one of her books translated from french into english, but it never got done.
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