Saturday, August 7, 2010

pp. 49-50 A New Birth of Freedom, Jaffa

What are the natural order of wants? What is the connection between rights and wants? Why is property acquisition central to the Founders? Distinguish from libertarianism today. What is the line in the sand separating democracy from the Declaration?

Relevant Passages: It is important to understand "rights" and "wants" as two aspects of a single phenomenon.

That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot by any compact deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

To say that someone has a right to life is to say that he has a natural desire or want to preserve his life. All rightful authority is founded upon recognition of this desire or want as a right, and no authority can be rightful that does not recognize it and is not consistent with it. The right to life would be worthless, however, for someone without the liberty to acquire the means-that is to say, property-by which to defend and preserve it. And the right to acquire property would mean very little unless it resulted in secure possession. But life, liberty, and property together are not ends in themselves. In the Virginia and Massachusetts Bills of Rights, as in the Declaration, safety is the first of the ends or purposes of political life, but happiness is the end for which life, liberty, and property are wanted.

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