Only Individuals Possess Rights

In his essay Police Power: Sovereignty’s Sledgehammer, written in 1975, Ridgway K. Foley Jr. writes the following:

“Moreover, no government and no state possesses any “rights,” including the right to self-preservation. Only individuals possess rights; any belief that a state owns rights involves a much too organic view of government. The state exists not to perpetuate itself in power but to secure the inalienable rights of individuals residing in that territory to life, liberty and property.”

Once a government fails in this task, it becomes useless. At any time, the citizens in a territorial unit may correct or alter the form of government in order to better accomplish the purposes of justice. Any “right” of state self-preservation would collide with the individual’s rights to continued free existence and to change or replace an existing state. Not just governments may change; no warrant exists to preclude residents of a given territory from establishing a new state.”

Read the entire essay here,


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