Culture Knowledge Center:
is Western Culture? Reason
Rights Born with Us
One Fundamental Right
Guardian of Rights
Danger of Democracy
Dream Out of Reach
Western culture recognizes rights.
This follows logically from Western cultures embrace of reason,
happiness. This is
because rights originate from humanitys rational nature, belong
only to individuals and make possible self-preservation and the
enjoyment of life.
Reason, which is humanitys primary means of survival, is an
attribute of the individual. This fact demands that the individual
be able to act on his or her reason and judgment and that it be
considered wrong for others to forcibly stop him or her from doing
so. In other words, human nature demands that the individual have
Rights are principles defining and sanctioning an individuals
autonomy in a social context.
Rights, in other words, sanction freedomwhich means
freedom from physical force initiated by another or others, particularly
by the government.
Since the source of rights is reality, specifically the requirements
of survival for a rational being, rights are inalienable.
They are absolutes incapable of being surrendered, transferred or
revoked by another or others for any purpose.
Or as American statesman John Dickinson (1732-1808) explained: Rights
are not annexed to us by parchment and seals
They are born
with us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human
power without taking our lives.
All individuals everywhere possess one fundamental right: the right
to life. This right has several branches, which are merely different
aspects of it. These branches are the right to liberty, property
and the pursuit of happiness.
- The right
to life is the right to protect, sustain and further ones
life; it is the right to take all of the action that ones
life requires as a rational being.
- The right
to liberty is the right to act in accordance with ones
judgment to attain ones values.
- The right
to property is the right to sustain and benefit oneself by
keeping, using and disposing of the material values that one has
created or earned.
- The right
to the pursuit of happiness is the right to live for ones
own sake, fulfillment and enjoyment.
possesses these rights absolutely as long as he or she respects
the same rights in others.
From these basic rights there are many applications, including but
not limited to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of
the press, freedom to petition and assemble, as well as the right
to trial by jury and due process of law and protection against unreasonable
searches and arrests.
The only function and purpose of a proper government is to protect
the rights of the individual. Government is the agency that holds
a monopoly on the lawful use of force in a given geographic area.
And a proper, fully Westernized government uses force, under impartially
defined laws, only in response against those who initiate its usethat
is, only against those who violate rights.
In other words, according to Thomas
Jefferson (1743-1826): "No man has a natural right
to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is
all from which the laws ought to restrain him.
A proper government derives its moral authority from the consent
of the governed. This means that the power a proper government
possesses has been delegated to it by the citizens for the purpose
of protecting their rights. If a government does not protect the
citizens rights, but violates them, then such a government
has no moral authority or rational reason to exist.
The types of government that violate rights, as opposed to protecting
them, include theocracy, communism, socialism, fascism, Nazism,
absolute monarchy and simple dictatorship. These governments, by
their nature, are truly at war against their own citizens. The citizens,
consequently, have the right to defend themselves by overthrowing
their government and creating a new, proper one.
A proper government is not a democracy. A democracy literally
means unlimited majority rule or mob rule. A democracy allows the
majority, by vote, to violate rightsthe rights of individuals
in the minority. In other words, a democracy holds that there is
no right and wrong, and people can do whatever they please, given
they have enough votes.
Or, in the words of American Founding Father James
Madison (1751-1836): Democracies have ever been spectacles
of turbulence and contention; they have ever been found incompatible
with personal security or...rights
A proper government is, or should be referred to as, a rational
republic. This is a system of government that is restricted
to protecting rights, such as the system established by the United
States Constitution. Majority rule in such a system applies only
on a limited basis, such as in regard to the selection of government
officials and representatives. In other words, a rational republic
recognizes that rights are absolutes that are not subject to vote.
Out of Reach
Non-Western culture does not recognize rights. Governments of nations
where non-Western culture dominates are disgustingly abusive and
brutal toward their own citizens and often others. These governments
act not as servants that protect rights, but as masters that violate
them. This tyranny ultimately exists because non-Western culture
fails to embrace the foundation of rights: reason,
Since non-Western culture devalues reason, it does not respect the
requirements of survival for a being who survives by reasonthat
is, it does not respect rights. In addition, rights require that
people deal with one another and settle disagreements through the
use of reason, discussion and persuasionnot by physical force.
But since reason is devalued in non-Western culture, physical force
becomes the primary way to settle disputes, and rights seem impractical
as a result.
Further, by not embracing reason, people in non-Western culture
are often ignorant and helpless, lacking the knowledge required
to produce the material goods that their lives require. This contributes
to the fact that people in non-Western culture must often fight
over a limited quantity of material goods, even food. Violating
others rights, as a result, becomes a requirement for survival since
they must cheat, steal, kill, etc. to survive. For example, competition
for scarce resources is likely one of the causes of the violence
in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
Non-Western cultures rejection of individualism also prevents
it from respecting rights. Virtually all emphasis and value in non-Western
culture is placed on God or/and the group (such as the state, society,
the class, the tribe). The individual, by contrast, is considered
largely insignificant or even unreal. Consequently, according to
this view, any and all sanction to independent action and freedom
belongs, not to the individual, but to God or/and the group, specifically
to those on earth who claim to represent them, such as a dictator.
Finally, non-Western cultures general scorn for worldly happiness
prevents it from respecting rights. Non-Western culture holds that
the individual does not exist for his own sake and fulfillment,
but only to serve God or/and the group. In other words, the individual
is only a means to an end, not an end in himself. However, only
a being who is an end in himself can claim a sanction to independent
action and freedom. If the individual exists to serve God or/and
the group, then he would have no rights, but only the duties of
* * *
slave labor, speech and press restrictions, executions and imprisonment
without trial, beatings, government expropriation of property and
countless other rights violations, which are part of daily life
in non-Western culture, will not go awaynot until reason,
individualism and worldly happiness are admired and pursued, at
Only when people in non-Western culture embrace these ideals and
values will they start living the dream of having their rights recognized.
Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness; Mans Rights
(New York, Signet, 1982) p.93 paperback.
 Physical force means harming,
damaging or otherwise physically affecting the person or property
of another against his or her will. The initiation of force means
starting the processthat is, being the first to use physical
 For an excellent description
of the nature of freedom, see George Reisman's
Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics; Chapter
1: Economics and Capitalism (Ottawa, Ill, Jameson Books 1998.)
p. 21. His book is available online here.
 Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological
Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Harvard U.P.,
1967), p. 187.
Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness; The Nature of
Government (New York, Signet, 1982) pp.107, 109 paperback.
 Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis Gilmer,
 The Federalist Papers,
ed. C. Rossiter (New York, New American Library, 1961), No. 10,
 Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism:
the Philosophy of Ayn Rand, (New York, Meridian 1991) pp. 354-355
| Knowledge Center | Top
100 Western Culture Heroes | Projects
| About Us | Contact
© 2009 Western Culture Global