The reason for the unique relationship which has evolved between man and dog is that dogs understand and respect human rights.
Dogs understand that they have to eat what is given them when it is given — they can’t arbitrarily eat the family cat Fluffy or little brother Timmy.
Dogs understand that they must go outdoors to perform their excretory functions — they may not do these in the house. This is not mere conditioning — most dogs will translate this knowledge into a new context such as a long car trip, when the two referents are different in every detail, and the only common aspect is “thisis inside-type human-type place, and that is outside-type bathroom-ok-type place”.
Dogs can be taught basic property rights in land and dwelling, and the physical demarcations which exist between properties. A dog can be taught to differentiate between transgressors and visitors onto a domain of property, and to respond appropriately in each case.
Dogs aren’t stupid. A dog knows his rights (his sanctioned freedoms of action in his social context with humans) and the limit of their extent. If dogs didn’t respect human rights, no social coexistence would be possible with them. This is the reason dogs have been described as “man’s best friend”. (Certainly a better friend to man than any human socialist.)
In fact, judging by the astounding record of success in the training of guard dogs and seeing-eye dogs, it can be seriously argued that dogs understand and protect rights with an objectivity and clarity exceeding your average human O.J. trial juror.
It is ONLY because so many aspects of rights are concrete, physical, and directly perceptible — that an animal with a perceptual consciousness such as a dog can be trained to understand them, and act in accordance with them.
The most basic rights, and the most important, are physical. A person’s right to their life is basically the right to the integrity and mobility of their body. The right to land is control over a contiguous concrete area, often demarcated by physical barriers, natural or artificial. The right to other property is primarily the right to physical objects, typically wholly on owned land, or attached or connected to a person’s body. (There is truth, both in principle and in legal practice, to the saying “possession is nine tenths of the law” physical proximity and manipulation is the essence of property in physical existents.)
The most basic violations of rights involve perceptible physical actions in proximate relation to perceptible physical existents. Examples: entering a demarcated area of property; physical contact or aggression against the body of a person; acquisition of a concrete item of property attached to a person or their demarcated property.
Adjudicating and enforcing basic violations of rights is often a question of establishing the existence of certain physical facts. Was a person at place X at time Y? Are they in possession of Z, previously owned by another? Etc. This is why law is (literally) not rocket science, and why a pre-industrial civilization like Rome could develop the art and practice of law.
Of course many matters of rights are conceptual, in their definition, exercise, and adjudication. But if a DOG can apprehend the fundamentals, then it cannot be for lack of mental capacity or paucity of conceptual knowledge that our fellow rapacious humans are so deficient in this department today.
With the rebirth of reason in the Renaissance, Western society embarked on a progressive course of rediscovering and implementing rights, up to their ultimate explicit affirmation in the Declaration of Independence and enshrinement in the American Constitution. Man had (more-or-less) finally become fully human by committing himself to the rational, voluntary mode of survival.
As even a dog could point out, it didn’t last.
The twentieth century has witnessed over 100 million slaughtered, billions under dictatorship and thralldom, and the repudiation in Western thought of individual rights. This has not been an innocent error. To devolve from the status of Human Being to something lower than Dog (“man eats man” comes to mind) has required a peculiar racket erected in the last two centuries devoted to the obliteration of rights. The purpose of this racket is simple: to empower those who want to destroy reason. To destroy reason one must destroy its fundamental manifestation in human life: rights. The anti-rights doctrines have nothing more or less as purpose than destroying the productive, creative, rational men and women. (100 million dead is a bit beyond consideration of having been innocent, honest error.)
Nevertheless, the challenge for those who want their rights back today is not explaining the simple, all but perceptually self-evident doctrine of rights to either the oppressors or their democratic supporters. Nor is it to peel off the layers of lies, equivocations, rationalizations, evasions, circumlocutions, obfuscations and outright denials extant on the subject of rights.
Why? The answer is best understood by reference to a passage in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged:
[The industrialist Hank Rearden is in his office with the statist
Floyd Ferris, who is trying to blackmail Rearden into selling
Rearden Metal to the State Science Institute, in exchange for
overlooking Rearden’s violation of an economic directive.]
“You seem to be pleased about it,” [said Rearden.]
“Don’t I have good reason to be?” [replied Ferris.]
“But, after all, I did break one of your laws.”
“Well, what do you think they’re for?”
Just as Byzantine economic directives and non-objective commercial law is designed to keep businessmen in thralldom and in a perennial state of guilt, so is the Aegean Stable of modern political philosophy designed to paralyze the minds of rights advocates, and keep them in servitude.
The rights-violators would surely love their victims to think that their (the victims’) essential defensive task is debunking the millions of words of anti-rights lies manufactured in the last centuries — from Kant’s philosophy to Marx’s politics to Keyne’s economics down to Clinton’s latest speech. See, what any dog could tell you, is that as long as their victims are engaging in “dialog” with them, and accepting the Big Lie that rights are rocket science as-yet undiscovered by man (or dog), then the exploiters can continue to loot and destroy, all the while pretending to be civilized intellectuals acting on reason.
THE VICTIMS SANCTION AND EMPOWER THE VIOLATORS BY ARGUING.
Notice that when you house train a dog, there is no question of “persuading” him of the correctness of your rights, nor of having him write a 2000 word essay on them; there is nothing to debate and nothing to persuade. You simply show him a fact (the actual rights) and expect him to comprehend and act accordingly.
This is the proper method with regard to humans as well. If dogs can apprehend the fundamentals of rights, so can humans. Do not accept the premise that rights are complex, or that people do not understand them. They do, and much better than any dog — this is what they are counting on: you not discovering this.
You would not attempt to argue with a dog that could not or would not accept the requirement to respect your rights. The ones who “get it” are welcomed into human company (to the mutual benefit of both parties); the ones who don’t are (sadly) destroyed.
You have rights because you are a human being dependent on reason for survival. You have the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to property, and the right to pursue your own happiness. You have the right to secure your rights. You don’t need any man’s (or dog’s) permission to live by rights. They are no one else’s to abrogate, nor to bargain over. They are yours.
Since rights are what are objectively necessary for man to survive in a social context, and since most rights are so simple that even a dog can understand them, it follows that men in general will have no problem adapting to and flourishing in a world in which rights have been fully secured and are relentlessly protected from violation. Keep your eye on the ball: (respected) rights are not something to dream of having in a science-fiction utopia sometime in the twenty-third century. Rights could be secured tomorrow. (But who would secure them though?…)
If you think a world of rights is too “radical”, check your premises. Rights are the only system which is compatible with man’s nature. Every other system requires an assault against reality, and cannot achieve success; in addition, laissez-faire is the simplest, cheapest system to implement, because there is no element devoted to initiating violations of rights, yet all social systems (of any stability) MUST at least embody the facsimiles of rights protection which a free system has.
Thankfully, the aphorism “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” doesn’t apply to a conceptual being like man (at least not in the way its proponents are trying to assert). People will adapt to and quickly flourish in a fully free world. Oh sure, a few “old dogs” (the ideological statist/collectivists) are going to do an awful lot of barking for a little while, but their bark is a lot worse than their bite. See, it is the men of reason — the ones who want and need rights most urgently — who create the values necessary for all human survival. When those supplying the means let the rest know that respect of their rights is the price, most of the beneficiaries will stop trying to bite the hand that feeds, and the barking will cease soon thereafter.
Those fighting for rights must keep a crucial point in mind: there is a fundamental, categorical difference between securing a system of rights, and trying to achieve any other social system advanced to date. The former is an abolition of the initiation of force against rights, whereas the latter types have always required an initial and ONGOING violation of rights. The revolution of rights is directed solely against those who violate rights, and does not require for its achievement the violation of anyone’s rights. Those already violating rights may voluntarily cease doing so at any time. Acceding to a system of rights is done primarily by refraining from opposing it, as well as giving it one’s explicit moral sanction, in word and deed (by participating in it or voluntarily helping to pay for it.)
Those who use force to attempt to prevent the establishment of a society of rights — basically those who use the legitimate machinery of protecting rights (government) to abrogate rights and make human existence impossible — are political psychopaths: men as dangerous to man (and as deranged) as a rabid dog.
The only thing standing in the way of a world of individual rights is the sanction of the current system’s victims, and the nagging half-acknowledged realization by these victims that it is going to be necessary to confront and neutralize a few mad dogs on the road to freedom.
A wise old dog once asked, “If not now, when? If not you, then who?”
Copyright (c) 1996 by Brad Aisa. All rights reserved.