There are No Human Rights Separate from Property Rights

I am in the midst of Reading For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto by Murray Rothbard.  In his thesis, he brings up the notion that there are no human rights, separate from property rights.  By correctly tying these concepts of rights together, he significantly shuts down… and enhances…. Justice Holmes’ famous dictum that no one has the right to cry “fire” falsely in a crowded theater.

The ill-titled “Liberals” of today have used this illustration to prove the supposed necessity for all rights to be relative, rather than absolute.


But, Rothbard points out the the problem is not that human rights (in this case, freedom of speech) can be pushed too far.  The problem is when the exercising of a human right becomes an infringement of the property rights of others.

To illustrate this point, suppose the Theater Owner falsely cries out “Fire!” during a performance.  Then, the patrons, having purchased to view a show can lawfully recover the loss of the cost of a ticket (or any other associated cost) due to the violation.

Additionally, if a patron cries out “Fire!” during a performance.  Then both the Theater Owner and the other patrons can seek to recover losses.

There is no need, therefore, for the individual rights to be restricted in the case of the false shouter of “fire.” Individual rights are still absolute… but, they are property rights!

So in conclusion, there does not require any “regulation” concerning individual rights.  Only criminal laws concerning the protection of the persons and their property protection. (Check pages 64 – 65 of Murry Rothbards book for an expanded explanation and illustration)


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