Individual Rights

Rights define the boundaries of legitimate human conduct. Such boundaries are necessary to clearly distinguish actions which may properly be opposed by force from actions which may properly be defended by force. Only to the extent that such boundaries are recognized and respected can conflict between people be avoided and a just civilization achieved.

Only individuals have rights. There are no group rights, community rights, or rights accruing to any government body. Individuals, whether acting alone or as part of a group or government, must not interfere with the exercise of rights by others. Currently some people define "rights" as a requirement that they receive whatever they desire, no matter at whose expense. We hold that no one has an inherent right to anything which requires access to the life, property or labor of another person. Thus, there can be no right to health care, jobs, housing or other benefits. The recognition, respect, and protection by law of individual rights is necessary for the existence of a free society. We recognize the following rights:

Right to Life: People have the right to be free from those who would physically injure or kill them. No one has the right to take the life of an innocent person. The right to life does not preclude the right to self-defense or the defense of another under imminent attack.

Right to Liberty: People have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, to pursue any lifestyle or course of action they wish, while taking responsibility for their actions and not violating the rights of others in the process.

Right to Property: "Property rights" are inseparable from "human rights." To lose property is to lose that portion of life expended for that property. Property is an extension of self-ownership and comprises those goods, services, materials, products of labor, and real property which are acquired without the use of coercion, trespass or fraud. One has the right to use, maintain, improve, control, protect, consume, destroy, or dispose of one's own property as one sees fit, recognizing that one may not violate the rights of others. The defense of property is a form of self-defense.

Members of the Libertarian Party do not necessarily advocate or condone any of the practices which our policies would make legal. Our exclusion of moral approval or disapproval is deliberate: people's rights must be recognized; the wisdom of any course of peaceful action is a matter for the acting individual(s) to decide. Personal responsibility is discouraged by society's routinely denying people the opportunity to exercise it. Libertarian policies will create a society where people are free to make and learn from their own decisions.