Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

FUNDAMENTALS OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT: WHY RAND PAUL IS WRONG

Fellow blogger over at The Swash Zone, Sheria, has an excellent post up on Rand Paul's misguided, loopy position on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The entire piece is here at The Swash Zone and at her blog, The Examined Life.

Here is where Sheria illustrates how wrong Paul is on this particular subject:

"Society is the whole, individuals are the parts. Societies were formed by the individuals to create a system in which the individuals could agree to live governed by rules to protect the common good. Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, Jefferson and many others have defined this concept as it relates to the purposes of goverment. Those who do not wish to agree to the social contract are free to live outside of it but cannot then also benefit from it. (i.e. you don't have to own a business) This is the basic flaw of Rand Paul's argument that a private business has the right to engage in discrimination. Businesses are by definition public enterprises. Its goods and services are sold to the public and as such the business is part of our system of commerce. The regulation of commerce is constitutionally assigned to Congress. If the businessman wishes to engage in discrimination, he may do so but not via his public enterprise. It's up to him to figure out how to run a profitable business enterprise without engaging in public commerce, if he wishes to engage in discrimination as to whom may partake of his goods and/or servces. 

The most extreme example of those who place individual liberties tantamount to the society as a whole are those who commit crimes. The thief believes that his/her needs are superior to the needs of all others thereby justifying their right to take what they need. Indeed, if we follow the argument of the superiority of individual rights to its logical conclusion, then those who commit criminal acts are merely choosing to place their individual needs above the needs of the whole. Under this logic, our prisons are populated by true libertarians.


However, in a society, we all agree to subvert our individual liberties to the benefit of the function of the whole. To not do so results in anarchy and a society in which no one has any security. Whatever property that I may have secured would constantly be at risk of being taken by someone who had the strength to do so in a world governed by the supreme right of the individual. Instead, we have laws, enforcers, and systems of punishment to maintain order so that property rights, mine and yours, are not subject to the arbitrary will of might makes right. Which brings me to the final element of the social contract, governments are not instituted to protect the rights of the strong but rather to ensure that even the weak have protections. Otherwise, in the words of Hobbes,we would be in a constant state of war, and man would be a solitary being living an existence that is nasty, brutish and short."


 
Blue Gal wrote on this as well.

 

8 comments:

CHAIRMAN TAO said...

Jefferson and Franklin both agreed that the concept of 'pursuit of happiness' had a much broader meaning than the concept of 'pursuit of property' which is basically what Rand Paul wants to believe.

The concept of 'pursuit of happiness' that appears in our Declaration of Independence is tied to Frances Hutcheson's concept of 'the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers...' and we can also thank France Hutcheson for the concept of 'inalienable rights'

Basically what is appalling is that in the Randian philosophy the individual is actually without any rights but only attains rights once they attain property/wealth.

Which seems to me contradicts their whole belief in individual freedom.

dmarks said...

Is that Randian as in Ayn Rand, or Randian as in Rand Paul? Or is it really both?

TAO said...

Ayn Rand did attempt to speak to a higher ideal....

Paul Rand's ideal of a philosophy is "its my property and I will do what I want to..."

He is also known to favor medicare, even if it is the biggest of the major government spending programs because it provides doctors with a comfortable income...

Shaw Kenawe said...

Ross Douthat has a op-ed in today's NYTimes that speaks to this:

"Like many groups that find themselves in intellectually uncharted territory, they have trouble distinguishing between ideas that deserve a wider hearing and ideas that are crankish or worse. (Hence Ron Paul’s obsession with the gold standard and his son’s weakness for conspiracy theories.)

Like many outside-the-box thinkers, they’re good at applying their principles more consistently than your average partisan, but lousy at knowing when to stop. (Hence the tendency to see civil rights legislation as just another unjustified expansion of federal power.)

And like many self-conscious iconoclasts, they tend to drift in ever-more extreme directions, reveling in political incorrectness even as they leave common sense and common decency behind."

dmarks said...

Shaw: I have long thought that the Libertarian Party, and the hardline doctrinaire libertarian movement went for strength and purity and consistency of ideology to the point where it has some big problems applying well to the real world.

Thayer Nutz said...

@SARA PALIN in your header, file that under the "whatever they accuse you of doing, that's what they have already done" file.

For any Republican and Sarah Palin specifically to attack Obama over ties to Big Oil is laughable

robert said...

Rand Paul is spot on! You argue the social contract as if people are forced to shop at said segregated business. that is obviously nonsense.

i grew up in apartheid south africa where the few morons who stubbornly held onto their racial ideology saw their business deteriorate rapidly. in fact, i would argue that racial barriers came down in private business long before mandela was released and the apartheid laws were scrapped.

public transport was also segregated and this gave rise to the hugely successful, indispensible shared taxi system.

the bottom line is this. if someone doesn't want me to spend my money at his store because of my color, religion, sexual orientation or he simply doesn't like the look of my face, that is his right to do so. i would only hope that the current federal/stae/county/municipal red tape would not hamper me from starting up right next door

Shaw Kenawe said...

robert,

How exactly does this work in rural areas where people who are discriminated against for the color of their skin have little to no alternatives to businesses that discriminate on the basis of color?

Example: African-Americans need the services of a pharmacy in a rural area. The owner of that pharmacy doesn't want to serve them. It's the only pharmacy in town.

Where do they go to get their medicine?

You are basing your argument on hypotheticals and not the real world.