Why Are Unalienable Rights So Vital?
Robert Curry, writing in The Federalist, describes why the Declaration’s “Unalienable” concept is so vital:
“Others before the American Founders had dreamed of a political order of liberty and justice, but every previous attempt ended in failure… The Declaration does not simply declare America’s independence; it declares that every government not designed and dedicated to securing the unalienable rights of its people is illegitimate… The great failing of earlier attempts at the people ruling themselves was the tendency for them to become tyrannies of the majority. That we have unalienable rights determines a fundamental feature the design of the American regime of liberty, and any legitimate regime, must have. It must be designed to prevent a tyranny of the majority because a tyranny of the majority directly threatens our unalienable rights.”
The obvious question, then, is why would anyone who professes a loyalty to the Constitution seek to oppose the concept of unalienable rights?
The answer is that to those who seek to implement a “progressive” agenda — which seeks to impose the financial and cultural views of a self-described intellectual elite on a majority that resists being told how to run their own lives and what to do with their own property-understand that their goals can only be achieved through force, and the concept of unalienable rights stands in their way.
Matt Palumbo writes this about Progressives,
“In their minds, forcing people to act in accordance with their social justice ideology is perfectly fine, and not doing so actually constitutes a crime…progressives have become increasingly supportive of using the government to censor opinions they disapprove of. In nearly every case, progressive liberals are more likely to support using the coercive power of the state to force society to be structured according to their will, and yet somehow they see themselves as good and just for doing so.”
The preference by progressive politicians for authoritarian socialist governments has been noticeable for some time. Just one example: In 2002, reports the Weekly Standard,
“16 U.S. congressmen voiced their approval for [now deceased] Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Representatives Barney Frank, John Conyers, Chaka Fattah, Jan Schakowsky, Jose Serrano, and others complained in a letter to President Bush that the United States was not adequately protecting Chavez against a groundswell of internal opposition to his increasingly authoritarian rule-an upsurge that might lead to his ouster. Elected to power in 1998, Lt. Col. Chavez has hijacked democracy in Venezuela and is openly moving the country toward totalitarianism. Beyond Venezuela’s borders, he celebrates, protects, and does business with terrorists.”
The diminishment of unalienable rights is not just a theoretical threat. The growing trend of progressive repression of the unalienable right of free speech can be seen today clearly on college campuses, where centrist and conservative speakers are kept out by force. Llewllyn Rockwell, Jr., writing for the renowned Mises Institute notes:
“It’s no wonder the left needs the total state…leftists who terrorize their ideological opponents are simply being faithful to the mandate of Herbert Marcuse, the 1960s leftist who argued that freedom of speech had to be restricted in the case of anti-progressive movements…”
Emmett Tyrell, Jr., quoting William Harcourt, notes that,
“Liberty does not consist in making others do what you think is right. The difference between a free government and a government which is not free is principally this-that a government which is not free interferes with everything it can, and a free government interferes with nothing except what it must.”
Those that deny the existence of unalienable rights inevitably excuse their attacks on fundamental freedoms embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with rationale’s both small and large. Whatever the excuse, whatever the cause, however, the end result will be the same if progressives, through force, intimidation, or public pressure get their way: The vast diminishment of freedom.
Article originally published on New York Analysis of Policy and Government.