Sunday, June 06, 2010

Property Rights and Slavery

Sadly, there's a large number of people who've dedicated themselves to reading hidden motivations behind words. For example, when I foolishly used the term State's Rights, I was accused by progressives of being a racist using a secret code word for segregation.

I realized later that "State's Rights" is a silly term. States don't have rights, they have powers. Conservatives would be wise to strike this word from their vocabulary.

Apparently, the some folks in history have associated the term "property rights" with slavery.

It is likely that some slave holders made pathetic appeals to property rights to defend the slave ownership.

Any such appeal is paradoxical and pathetic because slave ownership denies property rights to the slave.

Intellectuals of the 1800s reveled in paradox.

Intellectuals defending slavery used the term "state's rights" in a bad argument that state's had a right to deny a fundamental human right to the slaves.

Fundamental rights should not be in conflict. So clearly the flawed term state's rights is the source of the conflict.

The intellectuals of the modern era (ie, the 19th and early 20th century) held a strange belief that one could find hidden meanings in paradox. They went hog-wild with the term rights ... and messed up a great deal of terminology and logic.

People trying to defend liberty need to be aware of all the little traps in our modern language and need to weed out misused reference to rights (like "State's Rights" in order to defend fundamental rights like property rights.)

The claim that states have rights creates conflicts between individual rights and state's rights. Therefore, the concept is corrupt.

At the heart of the property rights debate is the assumption that one cannot deny property rights to another. Therefore, the concept of property rights is diametrically opposed to the ideas of slavery and segregation.


Michael Brown said...

The Civil War pretty much destroyed the slave ownership mentality notion of states rights. However the pendulum swung a little too far with the passage of the 14th amendment granting the federal gvt. too much power which needs to be returned to the states. Liberals will always jump on a chance to accuse racist motives as it conveniently shuts down the dialog.

y-intercept said...

"States Rights" was a slogan used by Democrats in defense of Jim Crow laws and segregation.

So, it was the civil rights movement, not reconstruction, that did in the term.

There was a racial dimension to the slogan when Democrats used it.

The current association of "states rights" and racism may have more to do with internal Democratic politics than an open attempt to project racism on Republicans.

The term is a bad term. States don't have rights. They have powers.

I should have used the terms "distributed powers" or "local control."

BTW, The fourteenth amendment established that the federal government can defend the rights of the people of the people against the states.

I think this is a good thing.

States should not have the power to override any civil rights.

The trouble is not with the Fourteenth Amendment, but that modern thinkers keep making up non-sensical rights such as the right to health care or the right to a welfare check.

To win the battle, one has to unwind the twists put on words. I realized that I fell into a trap when I used the term "states rights" in a debate about distribution of powers.