by Stewart Glass - 2007-07-25
Some Australians have adopted the view that if the majority of citizens want some policy or another, then their numbers legitimize the claim.
This is not what the freedom of western society is built on.
A community only has rights in communal areas. For example, take life - does a person need permission from the community to live? Only a nutter would say "yes".
Can this unalienable right to live be extended to individual liberty? It should.
Does the majority have a right to control a citizen's personal decisions? No - unless that citizen is forcibly denying other individuals of their life, liberty, or property. If an individual is reclusive, unsociable, uncompassionate or eccentric - the community has no moral mandate to control that citizen. This is the nature of freedom.
A person's labours are also not owned by the community. People live in communities for their mutual benefit, and the trade and donation of their labour must be freely given. A person's property and goods are the product of their labour, and so even when a citizen may have an abundance the community does not have inherent rights to it.
If then, an individual has natural rights to life, liberty and property, what are the communal areas the society does have claim to control?
The communal domain should be as small as possible and should only include areas that it is impossible for individuals control by themselves (or by voluntary co-operation with each other ie associations, charities, co-ops etc). Such areas as national defence, policing, the courts, roads, oceans are and should remain in communal control.
Communal areas should also be controlled and financed by the community closest to the individual - ie local roads by councils, intra-state road by the state, and national highways by the Federal Government.
When a citizen's rights are stolen - even if by the majority - that whole society is damaged, for without the individual a society is nothing.