Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paul Ryan is confused about where rights come from

I just heard Paul Ryan say that, "Our rights come from nature and God, not from government." I'm shocked to learn this because I never realized that God fought a war to end colonialism, organized a political union, and then wrote the Constitution.

While Ryan's statement might just seem like a comically naive manifesto, it is in reality masking a deeper, cynical rejection of government power using the guise of an appeal to human rights.  

As Mike Konczal explains, today's libertarians claim they favor basic rights more so than liberals. Their argument is that the sanctity of private property is the fundamental right that must not be violated.  However, as Konczal points out, property rights (along with corporate rights and the civil and human rights guaranteed in the Constitution) are an expression of government.  

They exist because the government, which derives its power from a political association among people, says they do.  This is not The Walking Dead.  Try telling the Governor about peoples' rights.  Our whole system of law and order is upheld by our political system that backs that system up.  

Today's libertarians pervert the idea of property rights to claim that government interference with property rights is tyrannical.  They remove the rights from the context of the state which created and continues to enforce them.  They rely on this fact while denying its existence categorically.  

Konczal's brilliant argument is that a state based on true libertarian values has existed, and it was called feudalism.  Recognizing this makes it easy to see why libertarians need to disguise their true motives and political beliefs.

But never the less, libertarians such as Paul Ryan have tried to turn their distorted ideology into a winning electoral formula, as Konczal points out elsewhere, in the name of "libertarian populism." 

An honest look behind the curtain of libertarian ideology reveals a much difference philosophy than the one Ryan is peddling to voters, and it is something voters should be very careful about taking at face value.