Your freedoms and rights are a myth

(You have no rights, only privileges conferred by society)

The problem with the demands for “rights” and “freedoms” by the anti-vax, anti-lockdown, mask-free movement is that those demands are based on a mythology perpetrated by groups such as the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). That mythology is itself based on US ideological concepts of individual freedom which are the antithesis of strong equitable societies and communities. 

The demand for their “freedoms” and “rights”, such as the insistence that it is their “right” not to wear a mask and to not get vaccinated has no basis in law or, indeed, in anything else.

The reality is that no such “freedoms” of this type exist and, where a freedom, of any sort, exists it comes at a cost. The curtailment of these mythological freedoms is the only way interdependent communities and societies can function, because your so-called freedom comes at my cost and vice versa.

If you want freedoms to drive fast, smoke, own multiple properties, not get vaccinated, not wear a mask, those things all limit my freedoms. I don’t want to drive on roads with hoons, breathe your smoke. I want to be able to rent affordable housing.

I also want to be able to reduce my risk of catching covid. Your so-called freedoms limit my freedoms. Similarly my demand for you to wear or mask or get vaccinated limit your freedoms.

It’s impossible to have a situation where no-one’s freedom is constrained unless you want to go and live on an island by yourself (and even then it’s arguable).

In reality, as citizens, society confers on us certain privileges. And those privileges come with costs. If I want the privilege to drive, I must pay road taxes and I must get a licence. Additionally I must obey rules regarding speed limits, alcohol, drugs and speed. These are “costs” imposed for being given the privilege to drive on public roads. And if I don’t pay these costs the privilege can be removed. 

Similarly we have no absolute right to enter a theatre or football stadium or shop. All of these things are privileges conferred by society (or in some cases, additionally, by individuals or communities (clubs). There are costs. These include ticket prices, not being allowed to smoke. And those privileges can be removed. Another of those costs, currently, is the requirement to get vaccinated. And, if you don’t, your privilege is removed.

The other question is where are these freedoms derived from. They aren’t written in law. I didn’t give them to you. Nor did society or the community. Did they come from God (assuming you believe in that)? No, generally, they are simply people asserting their own beliefs.

In this case they are, arguably, no different from religious zealots who want to impose their views on others. They simply have a view, opinion or belief that they have such freedoms without any evidence and without considering the implications of “their” freedoms.

Similarly, in society and community, some freedoms come with costs. If I behave badly I may be alienated from my community. If I smoke in a restaurant I will be asked to leave without eating.

Similarly, deciding not to get vaxxed has a cost, if society (Governments “elected” by the people) decides to impose one. That’s just how our societies work. If the Govt takes a decision that is wrong they may lose office if it’s sufficiently unpopular.

The way in which societies and communities operate (largely) is based on the Benthian model which is designed around the concept of the greatest happiness (good) to the greatest number. So we make decisions that favour the majority and have costs for the minority.

In this case the majority wants everyone to get vaxxed and keep people safe. So the minority, if it doesn’t want to get vaxxed, will have to be happy with the costs, such as getting excluded from travel, major public events etc. That’s the way society functions.

Those who call for these sorts of freedoms and rights do so because they have vested interests in restraining the privileges of the majority. The IPA is primarily about protecting the neo-liberal economy and protecting the privileges of the minority (the rich and powerful). Privileges which are antithetical to the average citizen. 

That’s why they cloak their propaganda in the rhetoric of freedom and “rights”. Because  to do otherwise simply exposes the fact that their freedoms are simply freedoms for the rich to get richer by exploiting the poor (the majority).

Chris Harris

September 23, 2021

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