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Positive Rights and Negative Rights

Philosophers and political theorists make a distinction between negative and positive rights. A negative right is a right not to be subjected to an action of another person or group; negative rights permit or oblige inaction. A positive right is a right to be subjected to an action or another person or group; positive rights permit or oblige action. In relation to the three generations of human rights, negative rights are often associated with the first generation while positive rights are associated with the second and third generations.

Negative and positive rights frequently conflict because carrying out the duties conferred by positive rights often entails infringing upon negative rights. For example, the positive right to social welfare confers a duty upon the government to provide services. Carrying out this duty entails increasing state expenditures, which would likely require raising taxes. This would however infringe upon citizens’ negative right not to have their money taken away from them. Because positive rights imply positive duties to take action whereas negative rights imply that others must only refrain from taking action, positive rights are generally harder to justify and require more complex ethical substantiation than negative rights.

Political philosopher Isaiah Berlin clarified the distinction in a famous lecture titled “Two Concepts of Liberty.”
If negative liberty is concerned with the freedom to pursue one’s interests according to one’s own free will and without “interference from external bodies,” then positive liberty takes up the “degree to which individuals or groups” are able to “act autonomously” in the first place.

In other words, what are the conditions under which individuals shape their understandings of their own free will? What gives individuals a positive idea about how they should act, rather than negative limitations on how they may not act?

To read Isaiah Berlin’s lecture.

Why You Should Never Speak To The FBI Without A Lawyer Present

From the ACLU of Massachusetts comes words of wisdom from civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who explains quickly and clearly why activists (or anyone else) should never have a conversation with an FBI agent without a lawyer and tape recorder present. The reason? Because the FBI is capable of blackmailing almost anyone into becoming an informant:

Learn how the FBI can manipulate what you say and use it against you, and how to prevent them from doing so! With civil liberties and civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate.

Even drunk drivers have rights

Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognised by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.

Lysander Spooner, Vices Are Not Crimes (via anarchei)

In the World of Sleepers: Anarcho-Capitalism vs. Anarcho-Communism.

theworldofsleepers:

People who are familiar to anarchism will have noticed the ramblings and contradictory dividentems betwixt the two frontiers of the anti-statists.

I’d like to first ask the two communities if they are Collectivism Anarchists, allowing different districts to run in the ideas of AnCap AND AnCom, as…

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