INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS DEPEND ON UNICULTURALISM
Individual rights is one of those things all Classical liberals hold near and dear. It defines a whole philosophy of belief, body of law and much of our everyday thinking. In many ways, it also defines Western man himself. We believe we, as individuals, have value, rights and freedoms given to us by our creator that can never be taken away. I certainly did myself. Indeed, for a time in the recent past I was the President of the Individual Rights Party of British Columbia, now a fond memory.
The problem with the idea is that it rests on an assumption, an assumption made by all the early thinkers in the field: Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. That assumption is that the individual is living in a uniform society of like-minded individuals who have agreed on a set of fundamental beliefs involving religion, morality, law and politics. The truth is you can have individual rights only if the people around you agree on the same principles. If they don’t, all bets are off.
A brief glance at the blurb for Peter Maass’ book on Bosnia takes us right to the heart of the issue, as well as the heart of darkness…