Nonsense on Stilts: Natural Rights and Nationalism’s Opposition

Almost every corner of the political spectrum has attempted to justify its views by invoking the theory of natural rights at some point. By “natural”, what is meant is that these rights not only confer an entitlement to perform or refrain from certain specified actions, but they are also claimed to be both universal and inalienable. This is a key distinction from their counterparts, legal rights, which serve the same basic function as natural rights, except they deny the universality, and instead acknowledge that only people who are citizens of the government which grants these rights are entitled to them.

The two schools of rights have been at odds with one another for centuries. Originating in their most primitive from within ancient Islamic law, natural rights were revived by the great enlightenment philosophers Locke and Hobbes, who fleshed out their definition with a series of theological arguments. The central theme of all Lockean conceptions of natural rights, the idea of universal inalienability, is crucial because when one accepts that rights possess these properties, they also must accept that rights are intrinsic to all people, regardless of their race, nationality, location, situation, and so on. Be aware that natural rights are not spoken of in an abstract way, proponents believe they exist objectively, as much a part of the real world as anything else.

But how do rights relate to the white nationalist movement? Over the years, in the many arguments and debates which I’ve observed and participated in related to nationalism, one of the most common arguments stated from both sides will take the approximation of “yes, but people have a right to free movement between countries”, and conversely “yes, but people have a right to live among their own people.” When we look at how philosophers, the media, and various international bodies have elevated natural rights to their current position, it’s not at all surprising. However, it is my intention to argue that natural rights are in fact part of a flawed philosophy which, when placed under the slightest scrutiny, is revealed to be entirely vacuous – they just don’t exist. Indeed, I lose a great deal of confidence in the Jewish and liberal composed political elite who perpetuate these falsehoods, because to do so demonstrates either a gross ignorance of the topic, or a deliberate attempt to subvert the public with what is yet another damned lie.

Certainly a large portion of their popularity stems from the fact that, when considered simplistically, they do sound like a grandiose and advantageous property to claim that humans have. The US Declaration of Independence speaks of natural rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) lists dozens of rights, including “liberty, privacy, marriage, thought, expression” and so on. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations (UN) also sanctifies “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” and states that “everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.” It all has such a pleasant ring to it, and with such powerful organizations backing the natural rights theory, there must be compelling justifications for why these rights even exist at all, surely?

Well, the man who popularized them, Locke, saw God as the ultimate source and foundation of natural rights. In Concerning Civil Government, published in 1689, he explains that the first rights which can be proven to exist are the ones to health and liberty. According to Locke, because humans are the creation of God, we are His property, and it therefore follows that any attempt to damage or enslave another human is like trying to commit theft from God Himself. This would contravene the natural order of creation, and so it follows that we must naturally have the rights to health and liberty. He then continues, and explains that by virtue of having God-given free will to control the body, the human mind logically has ownership of the body as a kind of possession. By working on material objects, be them stone, wood, metal, or anything else, man can be said to have “mixed his labor” with the objects, literally spreading the ownership of his body onto the world around him. Because man has taken a useless object and crafted it to his own specification, and in doing so expended some of his time and energy (which we have already established are both his “property”), the object ceases to be independent of him, becoming like an extension of his own body, in other words his own property. This is Locke’s demonstration of the third natural right which is evident from creation, the right to property.[1]

For an atheist, these justifications won’t be the least bit compelling, and secular attempts at proving the existence of natural rights have also been made for this very reason. The American philosopher Gewirth coined the term “rights-conferring properties”, these being aspects of human nature that he thought demanded the recognition of rights. Gewirth picked these rights-conferring properties based on how essential they are to being human, for example, autonomy is an important part of what we feel defines a human’s life, and for this reason it is a strong rights conferring property. Gewirth also includes reason, free choice and interests as other examples strong rights conferring properties. He then proceeds to define empirical conditions that are needed in order to exercise our rights conferring properties. “Not being enslaved” is a good condition which is needed for autonomy to be exercised, and because being enslaved limits our autonomy, he says we have a right not to be enslaved against our consent, because it would mean we cannot perform these actions that are essential to being human.[2]

These types of philosophical arguments may seem so distant from our modern discourse in which the word “rights” is thrown about with relative impunity, but it really is from antiquated arguments like this and Locke’s that natural rights have come to establish themselves in their present form in our society, being passed down from the enlightenment to modern day just like other theories of law, theology, and countless other subjects. However, there hasn’t always been a near-complete lack of criticism of natural rights theories, indeed, that seems to be a much more recent phenomenon.

In 1816, an essay entitled Anarchical Fallacies was published by the influential utilitarian philosopher Bentham. Its purpose was to once and for all refute the Lockean concept of natural rights by showing the inherent contradictions involved in their definitions. Bentham has a passionate writing style, and in the essay he frequently launches tirades of condemnation towards natural rights theory, famously describing them as “nonsense on stilts.” Alongside these entertaining interludes, though, are several powerful critiques, and the first right to be questioned is that of liberty.

In Locke’s works, he never provided any detail or exception to the right to liberty, and as a consequence the USA, EU and UN, in their adoption of natural rights, have all neglected this too. All declarations of the right to liberty espoused by these organizations provide no extra detail of the right; they merely state a single word, “liberty”. Readers can only interpret the word “liberty” in its most literal sense, that is, unrestricted freedom. However a contradiction becomes obvious here, because if all people have the universal and inalienable right to freedom, then does that not mean that one person has the naturally-given freedom to kill another? The murderer could quite simply justify his actions by making a claim to the right of liberty, specifically “the liberty to be able to kill another person.” If that were the case, though, it would result in the restriction of the naturally-given freedom of the victim, who also has a right to liberty. The victim, with equal validity, may claim that it is his right to liberty not to be killed – a completely paradoxical situation. Bentham continues by pointing out that even if we attempt to reconcile this problem by outlining certain restrictions to the right to liberty by rephrasing it to, for example, “you have the right to liberty, provided you do not kill, steal, […]” the original intention of absoluteness quickly fades, up until the point that the once “natural” right is entirely resemblant of a legal right. And the question is, if we already have laws which serve the purpose of the natural right, what is the point in having the natural right at all?

Next to be scrutinized is the right to property. Once again, no mention is given to any limits that may exist to this right, it’s stated alone in an equally vague manner as the right to liberty. Taken at its strictest literal definition (as this is all we have been given), it appears that this right has given an absolute right to property, with no restriction. Of course then, it follows that in any situation where someone may attempt to take a possession away from us, we may justifiably decline. Any tax, payment, or other situation where we might lose a portion of our wealth is rendered useless, because our right to property entirely permits the individual to not have his property taken from him without exception. This absurdity can be taken even further, because as every individual in the world supposedly has this right, all people may excusably claim ownership of everything, leaving us in a state of complete anarchy. The anarchical fallacy produced here is so contrary to the original intention of Locke, that what was supposed to be a promotion of the concept of property has simultaneously acted as a catalyst for destroying it outright. As with liberty, any attempt to reconcile the right to property involves a lengthy series of exceptions to the right to be included in its definition, to the point where it becomes more of a man-made law, subject very much to the circumstances involved, than a revered universal and inalienable right.[3]

Not being content with just disproving theological natural rights theories, philosophers have also pointed out the logical error in Gewirth’s secular argument. The crux of the most responses is that during Gewirth’s reasoning, he makes a hidden (and false) assumption. Rights conferring properties may safely be defined, however to make the jump saying “because we have rights conferring properties, we do have rights” is an illogical one that doesn’t follow. This type of problem is so commonplace in philosophy that it has its own name; Hume’s Guillotine, or the is-ought problem.[4] In essence, because we have rights conferring properties, it only follows that we ought to have rights, not that we actually do have them in an existential way. This is perfect ground for legal rights to step in if the law so wishes, but once again leaves natural rights theories off-limits.

I now hope it is clear is natural rights have been shown to be incoherent. The consequences of this are numerous, and I believe they’re vitally important – it removes a justification from both liberals and nationalists when they make claims about many areas of politics, although certainly it’s the former that’s left worse off. Much egalitarian thought has been based on natural rights theory; the appeal being that these rights are equally held by all members of species, rather than only to certain groups. Charities like Amnesty International encourage the west to donate huge sums of money to protect the “rights” of people living in third world countries, and the liberals listen to them and comply. Mass immigration is defended with cries of “it’s their right to come here!” Scientific claims about race are silenced due to the violation of the “right not to be discriminated against.” All of these present ever increasing obstacles to the continued survival of the white race.

If white nationalism is to gain the credibility of a wider audience, an intellectual image for it has to replace current perceptions of skin-headed thugs, and this can be facilitated in part by the rational rejection of natural rights. It is one among many other issues that white nationalists can use to demonstrate their pursuit of progress, not hatred, and I hope that the reader will lend support to this vision in the continual effort to expose the bankruptcy of liberal thought.

This whole discourse highlights more than just an isolated disagreement between what philosophy has shown to be false and what western liberal policy embraces, however. This shows, along with countless other exposés of the political orthodoxy, the overall asinine and inane foundation on which much of their thought rests – lies built upon unquestionable lies, nothing more than “nonsense on stilts”, to quote Bentham’s description, as true in 1816 as it is today.


[1] John Locke, The Two Treatises of Civil Government, Hollis ed., (1689)

[2] Alan Gewirth, Human Rights: Essays on Justification and Applications, (Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 1982)

[3] Jeremy Bentham, Anarchical Fallacies, Bowring ed., vol. 2, (1843)

[4] David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, (1739)

About Gaius Milton 2 Articles
Gaius Milton is a philosopher and scientist currently living in the United Kingdom.


  1. An excellent article indeed! The ridiculous delusions that most Anglo Whites labor under are surreal, to say the least. The very idea of “natural rights” is the kind of preposterous fantasy that only deluded Whites can concoct, and pretend to believe in. These inane memes are the poison pills that have led White civilization to its current brink of self-destruction. The other part of the equation is that Non-Gentiles (thank you Svigor) have used these nonsensical, misplaced White delusions to usurp and hijack the self-made ship-of-fools itself.

  2. “However, it is my intention to argue that natural rights are in fact part of a flawed philosophy which, when placed under the slightest scrutiny, is revealed to be entirely vacuous – they just don’t exist.”

    Absolutely right. They just don’t exist. Just another human fantasy — like all the “-isms” out there.

  3. Right do and do not exist. They are all but inseparable from law. Someone wrote them on vellum and just about everybody acts if they exist, therefore they exist in a sense, kind of like Jesus. I look at them as game rules (and some pieces in the game have more rights than others or can “legally” deny others’). But some get ridiculous and try to apply them where they don’t belong. Like the lady who came up to me as I was smoking under the No Smoking sign at the hospital while I was waiting for my wife to deliver, who smoked herself and had just made the long trek from the smoking area and said, with typical female Swedish busybodiness (is that a word?) “what gives you the right to smoke there?” I responded with, “I don’t need the right to smoke here. All I need is the reasonable assurance that at this hour, nobody is around who cares and can do anything about it.”

  4. I believe that the book “Might is Right” by Ragnar Readbeard, circa 1900, is the definative debunking of Natural Rights, and much of the rest of political philosophy. There are no “natural rights”, it’s just an idea some people created to try to control the behaviour of other people. From the book:

    “How is it that ‘men of light and leading’ hardly ever call into question the manufactured “moral codes” under which our once vigorous Northern race is slowly and surely eating out its heart in peaceful inaction and laborius dry-rot?”

    “Standard ‘moral principles’ are arbitrarily assumed by their orthodox apologist to be a fixed and unalterable quantity, and that to doubt the divine rightness of these “principles” is treason and sacrilege. When the greatest thinkers of a race are incapable, or afraid to perform their manifest and logical function, it is scarely to be wondered that average citizens are, aslo, somewhat unwilling to “risk life, fortune and sacred honor” fo the overthrow of the popularized “right and wrong” concepts, that they know from bitter personal experience are unworkable falsities.”

    It has many more heroic passages too, such as:

    “Whate is your “civilization nad progress” if its only outcome is hysteria and down going? What is “government and law” if their ripened harvests are men without sap? What are “religions and literatures” if their grandest productions are hordes of faithful slaves? What is “evolution and culture” if their noxious blossoms are sterilized women? What is “education and enlightenment” if their dead sea is a wretched race, with rottenness in its bones?”

  5. If you want to appeal to someone who believes rights exist, emphasise the ones that are anathema to and increasing curtailed by the multicult: freedom of association, freedom of contract and increasingly, freedom of speech.

  6. This doesn’t address Aristotelian and Thomistic natural law – which is much different than the distortion of ‘natural right’ philosophy exemplified in Hobbes and Locke. Further – despite the misguided assumption that modern philosophy tends to be more correct and harmonize better with the natural sciences, simply because it is modern, Thomistic natural law is by far more empirically grounded. It grounds most of its premises in basic observations about human behavior and psychology, as opposed to Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau – who all ground their natural right philosophy in a theoretical ‘state of nature’ that is constructed completely out of their own intellects. Further, I think Thomistic natural law is much more adaptable to evolutionary explanations of human life.

  7. I’m hardly familiar with all the history here. I read Locke and Hobbes and others in western civ years ago but am unfamiliar with Aquinas and Aristotle’s work, for example.

    That said, I found this article utterly unpersuasive. If there’s a case to be made, it wasn’t made here.

  8. It doesn’t really matter whether or not people believe in such things as ‘natural rights’ or ‘natural law’: look at the wide variety of ideologies which claim to argue on the basis of one or both. People will argue they have a ‘right’ to things they want to do, and that others have no right to things they don’t want them to do, regardless of whatever abstract nonsense happens to be floating around the ivory towers at the moment.

  9. In my opinion, which is based on nothing but observation and common sense, there is indeed a natural sense of justice in people based on our separate existences. Everybody really is a universal center in and of themselves. People are naturally concerned with their own well-being. Siblings are naturally aware of fairness in treatment meted out by the parents, and if the treatment is not fair some justification is expected, and will be accepted if reasonable, like he’s the elder child, she’s a girl, he’s a boy. There are rights that are naturally inherent in human psychology, and if they are violated trouble can be expected.

  10. If our race is going to survive the next thousand years we will need to, as Plato said, make a clean sweep of this nonsense. Too many bad ideas have been allowed to multiply. Many people who are against the current multicultural regime are against it because of their own adherence to some form of political liberalism, usually a mixture of libertarianism.

    There were plenty of people who are against new taxes, against subsidizing illegal aliens, and against forced integration. But they will always fail to stop their enemies because their ideas are based in faulty concepts. There’s an essay I wrote last year that described an encounter with some conservatives. The local communists infiltrated their meeting and disrupted the entire event. I asked one of the conservatives why they allowed it to happen and he said, “I may not agree with them but I support their right to free speech.”

    He supports the ‘rights’ of people who, if it was in their power, would silence and probably imprison him! That is why the conservative/libertarian/patriot movement will always fail. Their underlying philosophy has doomed them to failure before they even begin.

    A man once said that we can only defeat old ideas by creating new ones. Philosophizing is hard work, and our efforts might be better spent elsewhere. It won’t do us any good to philosophize while our race rapidly goes extinct. But like I said, if there isn’t a suitable idea to rally our race behind, we won’t have a chance of succeeding.

  11. He supports the ?rights? of people who, if it was in their power, would silence and probably imprison him! That is why the conservative/libertarian/patriot movement will always fail. Their underlying philosophy has doomed them to failure before they even begin. – Sam

    With one added caveat – If they were in fact in power — the Bolshies would not merely ‘silence or imprison’ him — BUT KILL HIM and any other CONservative like ‘him’.

  12. Certainly Aristotle never labeled any part of his philosophy ‘natural rights’, nor did he label his ethics ‘natural law’. Nevertheless his reasoning in his ‘Nicomachean Ethics’ provided the basis for Thomistic natural law, and thus can be considered for its influence on that strain of natural law reasoning.

  13. Good essay. All rights, including the “right” to life itself, ultimately grow out of the barrel of a gun. At present, whites in America are doomed because too few of them are willing to destroy those who fully intend to destroy them. In time, as whites become more aware of their lethal situation, this may change. Then they will regain the “right” to life: by fighting for it.

  14. Sure, the illusion of liberty is a false one just based on the individual’s strengths, weaknesses and character alone. I agree with much of what Lock writes, however, about the creator having a right to his creation, or in other words if one or a people, as the Whites of Rhodesia or South Africa, make use of the land, they above all have a “right” to it…Locke created a compelling argument that the great German mystic Schopenhauer echoed. Can anyone here really argue that the Whites who made productive use of the land in Africa should be denied the right to it as they have been?????

    The problem today and perhaps with this article, which is still a very impressive piece of writing and an excellent contribution here, is that it is not Lock or Hobbs that has given shape to modern consciousness, but rather Marx and Freud. It is a Judeo conscious that fringe Whites are rebelling against.

  15. Thanks for the information about Locke, Hume, Gewirth, and especially the critic, Bentham, about the concept of “natural rights”.

    It’s valuable to know something about the origin of the concept of “rights”. I didn’t know that Locke was not only a strong believer in God, but saw God as the ultimate source and foundation of natural rights (though Cicatrizatic states that Locke ground his concept of natural right in ‘state of nature’).
    Equally interesting, is the atheist side establishing its own basis for the concept, as in the works of the American philosopher, Gewirth.

    How hard it is to write for a wider audience, in a brief post, about philosophical issues. Sometimes, the fact that an author went ahead and at least tried to put a set of important ideas in coherent form, even while one might be learning for the future how to express some points differently – this is what is important. In the area of philosophy, it may be equally challenging for readers’ comments to carefully express certain angles.

    Perhaps in our times, one of the issues that will move to the fore is the role of the larger audience – “the masses”. Or rather, I should say, there may be developing a change in the ideas about the role of this larger audience; veering neither too far in one direction nor the other, as has been done recently or in the far past.

    On re-reading the article, the comments about the UN stand out. Years ago I was reading the rights asserted by the UN charter and thinking about one of them, I don’t remember which, and thinking this can’t be valid, not in the general un-restricted form in which it is stated. My idea wasn’t that clear at the time. But I knew something was wrong.

    I’m not sure I follow every argument in the article, especially the is-ought fallacy, described briefly in the paragraph toward the end (I tend to be a Missouri “show me” person). However, I do not say this in a negative way. I certainly can accept that philosophers have made these arguments. It is only that I do not have the time and desire to dig into them carefully. But I still strongly thank the author for stating them.

    I agree with the sentiment I believe found in the last two paragraphs, that one part of the fight against the replacement of our culture and people must be directed toward the deeper investigation of words and concepts. Otherwise, our thinking is being manipulated in sophisticated and destructive ways, we and the whole society.

    If I might focus on a more practical point. From my own experience, people struggling in behalf of our survival, tend to have not only energy, but variety in their thinking, and hence – I have to be outright and honest here – there are differences in how they see things. For our sake, one part of the struggle requires evolving some framework of language where people can express their differences, at least some of the time, and still, where possible, continue to contribute to the same larger goals, without unduly poisoning each other. The development of such a framework cannot take place instantly. But it is important for our success. For those who are pretending to be in favor of Occidental Dissident but who in reality are working in behalf of ideas of groups such as the ADL, it is a measure of their success to spread poison and confusion among us. Too, there are people who are somewhat for Occidental Dissident but who have absorbed from groups like the ADL ideas which ultimately are destructive of our struggle. In spite of all this, we can still keep our emphasis on freedom among ourselves and the search for truth. Our cause is the just one, the good one, and the right one.

  16. This is a good article.

    What would deserve further investigation is the extent to which those rights that are considered natural are experimentally beneficial. For example, I do not think one can seriously claim that a society with _no_ liberty of any sort, or one that lacks any recognition of property rights, will be stable and prosperous. According a certain degree of these qualities and privileges to at least a significant portion of the population would therefore seem to be a necessary step. The question then: to what degree, and to whom, and why. “Because it works” is a temporary justification, some more fundamental principle probably exists.

  17. “Civilisation nad progress”? Any “nad progress” is good nad progress. Go nads!”

    That would have been funnier if you’d posted it as “Beavis”.

  18. #25: No doubt they were weenies, no doubt they were anarchists. Maybe, and it’s not worth the time it would take to debate, they should be called “libertarian.”

    But those anarchists argued against Natural Rights.

    If WNs deny Natural Rights, do WNs deny Natural Law? (Maybe that would be a good strategy, but I don’t know what it would entail.)

    Presumably WNs can clear the thicket of “nonsense on stilts” and rediscover something coherent- but what? Locke? Man-made rights?

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