Friday, 15 April 2016

Rights and Obligations


This is the first essay in a planned series, in which I aim to put some flesh on the theory and practice behind a future world of voluntary societies and minimal government.

Today, I’m going to look at ethical obligations, human rights and the relationship between the two. I’ll look at many examples of proposed obligations and rights. I’ll try to classify each into General (humanity wide), Contractual (a fit subject for voluntary mutual agreements) and Misguided.


An obligation (ethical obligation) is a commitment to be made by individuals to other individuals. An obligation can be stated in a form beginning, “Individuals must...” or “Individuals must not...” An alternative is to use the imperative form: “Do x” or “Don’t do x.”

An example of an obligation, much touted by liberty lovers, is the so called “non aggression principle.” A form, in which it is often stated, is: “Don’t initiate physical force.”

From now on, I’m going to call this the non aggression obligation. This is because I reserve the term “principle” for political principles. For me, a principle is a ground on which the rules of a society are to be based. Principles can be stated in a form beginning “Society must...” or “Society must not...”

To make life easy for myself, I’m going to leave consideration of political principles for later. I’ll also leave aside any discussion of government, and of when, why or how individuals may (or may not) reasonably be denied particular rights, or forced to keep to particular obligations. Today, I’ll focus only on ethical obligations and their mirror image, human rights.


A right (human right) is a benefit which an individual acquires when everyone, with whom the individual deals, keeps to a particular obligation.

An example of a right is the (negative) right to life. This arises when everyone keeps to the Judaeo-Christian obligation, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Or, to be more specific: “Thou shalt not kill human beings against their wills.”)

One caveat is that any right is conditional on the individual himself keeping to the obligation. For example, killers can’t reasonably claim a “right to life!” This caveat (I’ll call it the expectation of obligations) can alternatively be stated as an obligation: “Don’t try to claim any right if you yourself disobey the corresponding obligation.”

Another caveat (I’ll call this the expectation of rights) is that a right may not be used as an excuse for violating some other right. For example, a right to use a footpath across someone’s property does not imply a right to trespass on other parts of their property. This, too, can be stated as an obligation: “Don’t try to claim that having a particular right gives you an excuse to violate other rights.”

Mapping obligations and rights

It’s often easy to map obligations to rights. A negative obligation, “Don’t do x,” maps into a right not to have x done to you. Much more rarely, a positive obligation, “You must do x,” can give rise to a right for others to x.

Sometimes, however, trying to map a proposed obligation into a right produces something that fails to bring any benefit to the individual. For example, the Jewish dietary obligation, “Don’t eat pork,” doesn’t map into any right that brings a general benefit to people today. What this shows is that such an obligation is, at best, a contractual obligation. That is, a group of people can agree to obey it among themselves, but they can’t reasonably seek to require others to obey it.

It’s also possible to do the mapping the other way, from right to obligation. A right not to have x done to you maps into the obligation, “Don’t do x.” This is why those that do x to others can’t claim any right not to have x done to them.

General, Contractual and Misguided

I’ll set out to classify the obligations and rights I discuss here into two categories: general and contractual. There will certainly be room for dispute about some of the classifications; but they’re a start.

By a general right or obligation, I mean one common to all humanity; or, in a wide context, to all civilized beings. Thus a general right is a right which accrues to everyone without exception, subject only to the individual keeping to his or her obligations – including the specific one which gives rise to the right. And a general obligation is one which gives rise to a general right.

General obligations and rights are ethically egalitarian. That is, each individual must keep to the same obligations as any other. And each individual has the same rights as any other. Indeed, one of these rights is what I call the expectation of ethical equality, and whose corresponding obligation I phrase as: “Don’t try to claim any right to do anything that you wouldn’t allow others the right to do in a similar situation.”

By a contractual right or obligation, on the other hand, I mean something on which people mutually and voluntarily agree. If individuals find a particular right valuable, so much so that it is worth their while to obey the corresponding obligation, then they can band together with like minded others in order to mutually enjoy that right. And they can, if they wish, shun those that fail to obey the obligation they value so highly.

Contractual obligations may be ethically egalitarian; the example I gave above, of a group of people who mutually agree not to eat pork, is one such. But contractual obligations may be, and usually are, asymmetrical. One person gets a job done, and another pays him for it, for example. There are as many different contracts of this type as there are combinations of individuals or groups who wish to trade in some way.

Some “rights” are put forward as if they are general rights, but turn out on examination not to be so. Such claimed rights are, at best, contractual rights; but some individuals will find the cost of keeping to the obligation too heavy in comparison to the value they place on the right. So, I’ll classify these claimed rights as Misguided.

Positive and negative

Some obligations are positive obligations. They impose on individuals a positive requirement to act in a particular way. Others are negative obligations. The requirement they impose is not to do a particular thing.

In the same way, there are positive and negative rights. A positive obligation gives rise to a positive right, and vice versa; and a negative obligation to a negative right, and vice versa. However, many rights which are actually negative rights are named as if they were rights to something. For example, the “right to life” isn’t a positive right, but a negative one. It’s a right not to be killed.

The Golden Rule

Now, a few worked examples. One of the oldest of all ethical obligations, widespread in many different cultures, is Confucius’ Golden Rule. It comes in negative and positive forms.

The negative, and original, form is: “Do not do to others what you would not wish done to you.” On the assumption that others’ tastes are similar to yours, the corresponding right is not to have done to you things you don’t like; and so, not to be harmed. To remove this assumption, the obligation might better be put as: “Don’t do to others what they don’t want done to them.” It seems, to me at least, that this is a good candidate to be a general, negative obligation. For the benefit of not having something unpleasant or harmful done to you is, for all except psychopaths, greater than the dubious pleasure of doing similar unpleasantness or harm to another.

The non aggression obligation, “Don’t initiate physical force,” is a special case of the negative form of the Golden Rule. The corresponding right is not to have physical force initiated against you; this can be put as the right to security of person. It can also be seen as a right to peace.

The positive form of the Golden Rule can be put as: “Do as you would be done by.” Or – with the same shift of person as in the negative case: “Treat others as they wish to be treated.” As general advice, this sounds fair enough. But as a positive obligation, to be kept to at all times, it defies common sense. When others mistreat us, it seems to say, we should continue to treat them as if nothing had happened. If accepted, it gives everyone an apparent “right” to be treated well by others, regardless of how badly they themselves behave. It disallows self defence, and prohibits any kind of justice system. If put into practice, it allows psychopaths to rule the world.

My own solution is to replace the obligation by: “Treat others at least as well as they treat you.” This obliges us to be polite, friendly and peaceful to those who are polite, friendly, and peaceful towards us; while, nevertheless, allowing us to defend ourselves against those that harm us or try to harm us, and to seek to bring them to justice and punish them for their crimes. And the corresponding right is, that we should be treated at least as well as we treat others; or otherwise put, we should not be treated worse than we treat others. This right is a general right to justice.

Positive general rights

There aren’t many valid positive general rights. Many things touted as positive “rights” – for example, social security – aren’t valid rights, because to implement them requires other people’s rights to be violated. In liberty circles, this seems to lead to a view that there’s no such thing as a (general) positive right. And thus, that all real human rights arise from prohibitions such as the non aggression obligation.

I disagree with this view. I’ve already exhibited one positive general right; namely, the right to justice. And I’m going to show three more obligations which I classify as positive general obligations, and which therefore lead to positive general rights.

The first of these I call the restitution obligation. I’ll put this as: If you cause harm to others, compensate them. This is the obligation which kicks in when the negative Golden Rule has been violated, and harm has been committed. The corresponding right is: if you have been harmed, you have a right to restitution for that harm from the perpetrator or perpetrators.

The second is the parenthood obligation. If you want the privilege of having children, and so to have your genes transmitted to the next generation, then you must take on the corresponding responsibilities. The way I put this is: If you have children, bring them up and educate them to be civilized human beings.

The key to understanding this, and turning it into a right, is to see that the obligation is on the parents (or, at need, on those who agree to take on the obligation if the parents cannot). Each individual has a general obligation to do these things for their own children. But no-one has any general obligation to do them for other people’s children. Any such positive obligation towards children from a third party can therefore only be a contractual one; for example, when a schoolmaster takes on the responsibility of educating a child in exchange for a financial payment. Thus, the corresponding general right is: individuals can expect those, who choose to have children, to discharge their responsibilities to bring up and to educate each child, without requiring any positive action from themselves.

The third is the obligation to keep your contracts; or, more specifically, to keep to your side of any contracts you voluntarily enter into. By entering into contracts with others, whether formal or informal, we can gain mutual betterment. But contracts only work when both sides keep to them. Leaving aside details like termination clauses and force majeure, the obligation to keep your side of a contract leads to the right of expectation that the other party or parties will keep their side of the bargain too.

My plan for the rest of this essay

What I’m going to do now is re-state the obligations and rights, which I’ve discussed so far, in the form of a table. After that, I’m going to list some more obligations and rights from various sources, and show them in the same tabular form. These sources include the secular among the Judaeo-Christian Ten Commandments, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. And lastly, I’ll throw in a few curve-balls of my very own.

I’ll try to state the obligations as simply as I can. The caveats that rights can only be enjoyed by those who keep to the corresponding obligations, and that a right may not be used as a means of, or as an excuse for, violating some other right, are implied in all cases.

There are situations, where it’s possible that a right might reasonably be violated with the intention of avoiding a greater violation. For example, arresting someone on justifiable suspicion that they have committed theft. For the most part, I ignore these possibilities here; they’re for another day. Except that, where a right as stated claims immunity from some arbitrary action, I’ve replaced the word arbitrary in the obligation by “(without good and provable reason).”

Examples already discussed

Golden Rule (negative form)Don’t do to others what they don’t want done to themRight not to have harms or unpleasantnesses done to youGeneral, Negative
Non aggressionDon’t initiate physical forceRight to security of person; right to peaceGeneral, Negative
Golden Rule (positive form)Treat others as they wish to be treated“Right” to good treatment regardless of behaviourMisguided
Golden Rule (my form)Treat others at least as well as they treat youRight to justice; not to be treated worse than you treat othersGeneral, Positive
Restitution obligationIf you cause harm to others, compensate themRight to restitution for harmsGeneral, Positive
Parenthood obligationIf you have children, bring them up and educate them to be civilized human beingsExpectation that others will discharge their responsibilities to bring up and educate their childrenGeneral, Positive
Contract obligationKeep to your side of any contracts you voluntarily enter intoExpectation that others will keep to their side of the contracts tooGeneral, Positive
Expectation of obligationsDon’t try to claim any right if you yourself disobey the corresponding obligationExpectation that others will keep to their obligationsGeneral, Negative
Expectation of rightsDon’t try to claim that having a particular right gives you an excuse to violate other rightsExpectation that others will respect your rightsGeneral, Negative
Expectation of ethical equalityDon’t try to claim any right to do anything that you wouldn’t allow others the right to do in a similar situationExpectation that you have the same rights as othersGeneral, Negative

The ten commandments

This table includes only the valid secular commandments, 6 to 9. The religious ones 1 to 4 are all Contractual, since they apply only to those who choose to subscribe to the religion. No. 5 is the mirror image of the parenthood obligation. And No. 10 is impossible to keep to, and so Misguided.

Sixth commandmentThou shalt not kill (human beings against their wills)Right to life (negative)General, Negative
Seventh commandmentThou shalt not commit adulteryRight to marital fidelityContractual, Negative
Eighth commandmentThou shalt not stealRight of property (basic)General, Negative
Ninth commandmentThou shalt not bear false witness (against thy neighbour, or anyone else)Right to truth and honestyGeneral, Negative

The UN declaration on Human Rights

Here, I’ll leave out those rights, such as presumption of innocence, which are concerned with the relationship between individuals and some form of government.

§1: DignityDon’t treat anyone as less than a human beingRight to be treated as a human beingGeneral, Negative
§1: RightsDon’t violate others’ rightsExpectation that others will respect your rightsGeneral, Negative
§2: Non-discriminationDon’t deny rights to anyone because of who they are or where they come fromExpectation that others will not deny you your rights because of who you are or where you come fromGeneral, Negative
§3: LifeDon’t kill anyone against his or her willRight to life (negative)General, Negative
§3: LibertyDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to choose and act as they wishRight to make your own choices; right to act on themGeneral, Negative
§3: Security of personDon’t initiate physical forceRight to security of person; right to peaceGeneral, Negative
§4: No slaveryDon’t treat anyone as a slave(Right against slavery is implied by right to liberty)General, Negative
§5: No tortureDon’t torture anyone(Right against torture is implied by right to security of person)General, Negative
§5: No cruel, inhuman or degrading treatmentDon’t behave with cruelty towards anyone, or subject anyone to inhuman or degrading treatment(Right is implied by rights to dignity and security of person)General, Negative
§9: No arbitrary arrestDon’t arrest anyone (without good and provable reason)Right against arbitrary arrestGeneral, Negative
§9: No arbitrary detentionDon’t detain anyone (without good and provable reason)Right against arbitrary detentionGeneral, Negative
§12: PrivacyDon’t interfere with anyone’s right to keep their thoughts and actions to themselves when they choose toRight to personal privacyGeneral, Negative
§12: No interference with family or homeDon’t interfere with anyone’s home or familyRight to non-interference with family and homeGeneral, Negative
§12: No interference with correspondenceDon’t intercept, copy or otherwise interfere with anyone’s communications or correspondenceRight to privacy and non-interference in communications and correspondenceGeneral, Negative
§12: No attacks on honour and reputationDon’t untruthfully or deceitfully smear anyone’s reputationRight to earned reputationGeneral, Negative
§13: Freedom of movementDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom of movement, as long as they don’t trespassRight to freedom of movementGeneral, Negative
§16(1): Right to marryDon’t obstruct consenting adults from marryingRight to marryGeneral, Negative
§16(2): Free and full consent to marriageDon’t require anyone to marry against their willRight of free and full consent to marriageGeneral, Negative
§17(1): Right to own property aloneDon’t require human beings to share their property with others against their willsRight to individual ownershipGeneral, Negative
§17(2): No arbitrary deprivation of propertyDon’t take anyone’s property (without good and provable reason)Right against arbitrary deprivation of propertyGeneral, Negative
§18: Freedom of thoughtDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to think their own thoughts Freedom of thoughtGeneral, Negative
§18: Freedom of conscienceDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to make their own judgements according to their own conscienceFreedom of conscienceGeneral, Negative
§18: Freedom to hold religion or beliefDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to hold their own religious beliefs, including atheism or agnosticismFreedom of religion or beliefGeneral, Negative
§18: Freedom to manifest religionDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to worship in their own wayFreedom of worshipGeneral, Negative
§19: Freedom of opinionDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to hold their own opinionsFreedom of opinion; right to hold opinions without interferenceGeneral, Negative
§19: Freedom of expressionDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to express their own opinionsFreedom of expression; freedom of speechGeneral, Negative
§19: Freedom to seek information and ideasDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to seek or to receive information or ideas through any mediaRight to seek information and ideas through any mediaGeneral, Negative
§19: Freedom to impart information and ideasDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to impart information or ideas through any mediaRight to impart information and ideas through any mediaGeneral, Negative
§20(1): Freedom of associationDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to associate with whomever they wishFreedom to associateGeneral, Negative
§20(1): Freedom of peaceful assemblyDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to meet peacefully with whomever they wishFreedom to assemble peacefullyGeneral, Negative
§20(2): Freedom from compulsion to belongDon’t require anyone to belong to any particular associationFreedom not to belong to an associationGeneral, Negative
§22: Social securityYou must pay for others to enjoy certain “rights,” regardless of their behaviour“Right” to force others to pay for certain “rights”Misguided; see below for my own version
§22: Right to insurance or mutual aid (my version of “Social security”)Don’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to insure, or to associate for the purpose of insuring, against conditions adverse to their economic security or social welfareRight to seek insurance or mutual aid; right to seek protection against unemployment (§23(1)); right to seek just and favourable remuneration (§23(3)); right to form trade unions (§23(4))General, Negative
§23: Right to work, free choice of employmentDon’t obstruct human beings’ freedom to seek work, or to contract to perform work or to have work performedRight to seek work; right to contract for work; right to free choice of employmentGeneral, Negative
§24: “Right” to rest, leisure, limited working hours, holidaysN/A(Right is already covered by “No slavery” and “Right to insurance or mutual aid” above)The right as stated is Misguided
§25(1): “Right” to a minimum standard of livingN/A(Right is already covered by “Right to insurance or mutual aid” above)The right as stated is Misguided
§25(2): “Right” to social protection for mothers and childrenN/A(Right is already covered by Parenthood Obligation, above)The right as stated is Misguided
§26(1): “Right” to “free” and compulsory educationN/A(Right is already covered by Parenthood Obligation, above)Misguided
§26(3): Right of parents to choose their children’s educationDon’t obstruct parents’ freedom to choose how their children are educatedRight of parental choice in educationGeneral, Negative
§27(2): Intellectual property rightsDon’t use anyone’s intellectual products in such a way as to obstruct their ability to sell those products to others(Limited) copyrightGeneral, Negative

A few curve-balls

These are taken from Annex B of my “Blueprint for Human Civilization” ( The numbers are the paragraph numbers in that document.

§B6: Right against fraudDon’t commit any wrong against any person or their property through fraud, deceit or trickery(Right is implied by Golden Rule (negative form) and Ninth commandment)General, Negative
§B13: Right against trespassDon’t enter others’ property, except where the owner has authorized unconditional access (such as easements), or where the owner has authorized conditional access and you meet the conditionsRight to set borders around or within your property; right against trespassGeneral, Negative
§B14: Right to be aloneDon’t interfere with anyone’s right to hold themselves away from the company of others when they choose toRight to be aloneGeneral, Negative
§B17: Right against stalkingDon’t stalk or unreasonably follow anyoneRight against stalking (including electronic stalking)General, Negative
§B18: Right against arbitrary surveillanceDon’t spy on anyone (without good and provable reason why particular individuals should be subjected to surveillance)Right against unreasonable surveillanceGeneral, Negative
§B19: Right against arbitrary searchDon’t search anyone’s bodies or possessions (without good and provable reason why particular individuals should be subjected to search)Right against unreasonable search; right against random searchGeneral, Negative
§B21: Right to say NoDon’t coerce anyone to enter into, or not to enter into, any contract against their willRight to say No. Includes the rights not to be coerced into marriage, and not to be compelled to belong to an associationGeneral, Negative
§B25: Right to pursue happinessDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to pursue their own happinessRight to pursue happinessGeneral, Negative
§B26: Right to self defenceDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to defend themselves against aggression, or (subject to reasonable conditions) to keep and carry weapons for the purpose of defending themselves or others against aggressionRight to self defence; right to keep and carry weaponsGeneral, Negative
§B29: Right to enjoy propertyDon’t obstruct anyone’s freedom to enjoy and to use their property as they see fitRight to enjoy and to use propertyGeneral, Negative
§B31: Freedom of movement (non-encirclement)Don’t encircle anyone’s property, or unreasonably obstruct their passage in any directionRight to free movement; expectation that property owners will allow reasonable easementsGeneral, Negative
§B34: Right to a free marketplaceDon’t obstruct or try to obstruct, in any way, the open economic marketRight to a free marketplaceGeneral, Negative
§B35: Right to free tradeDon’t obstruct anyone’s access to the open economic market, either as seller or as buyerRight of access to the free marketplaceGeneral, Negative
§B36: Right to pursue bettermentDon’t obstruct anyone’s attempts to better themselves and those they care aboutRight to pursue bettermentGeneral, Negative

In conclusion

Among the general obligations and rights I’ve examined here, most are negative. Many of the negative obligations turn out to be particular cases of the Golden Rule: “Don’t do to others what they don’t want done to them.” There is, therefore, a good case for putting this rule first and foremost. Most of the negative rights I’ve listed here, apart from the three expectations of obligations, rights and ethical equality, can be derived from this obligation.

Beyond the negatives, I uncovered four positive general obligations. One is a positive form of the Golden Rule, which in my formulation becomes “Treat others at least as well as they treat you,” and which I see as the right to justice. The others are the restitution obligation, the parenthood obligation and the obligation to keep your contracts. Adding these to the negative Golden Rule gives, in my opinion, a decent candidate basis for a “common law of humanity.”

But any ethical code, however well conceived, is worthless if people don’t take any notice of it. In a follow up essay, therefore, I plan to look at how this code might be evolved in order to support a minimal government, able to enforce the obligations and defend the rights.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Remain or Leave? Leave or Remain?

<Hungarian sneeze, as at the beginning of Kodaly’s “Hary Janos”>

Look, friends, all this crap about Brexit has got out of hand.

There are those that want to keep the UK as part of the EU. And there are those that want the UK to leave the EU. With me so far?

The cumbersome mechanics of a referendum (even an honest one – which it isn’t and won’t be) mean that only one side can win.

Whichever side wins, the Remains or the Leaves, everyone else will be disappointed and angry.

Myself, I can see both sides of the coin. There have been both good and bad aspects of the European project. So, I’m going to put forward a way that both sides can win.

It’s simple. So simple, you’ll think I’m a genius.

One: Leave supporters proclaim a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Immediately, they all stop paying taxes. They stop obeying all European laws. And they stop obeying all laws that have been made by any political party that supports the EU.

Two, they tell Remain supporters: “Look, if you like the EU so much, go and live in it.”

And both sides win. Supporters of Remain will go to live in EU countries. To France, or Germany, or wherever else they fancy. They’ll be happy with that. Supporters of Leave will be left in control of the islands called Britain. They’ll be happy with that, too.

So: those who want to Remain will leave. And those who want to Leave will remain.

And they’ll all live happily ever after.

</Hungarian sneeze>

Friday, 1 April 2016

The force is BEHIND you, politicos

Professor Thomas Moon, Director of the Political Crime and Justice Unit at the University of Umbrage, ponders how to get rid of the bastards

(This is a parody of a recent article "The force is not with you" by Professor Theresa Marteau in the Cambridge alumni magazine CAM. Available on-line at (on page 13). If you do go there, I recommend having a sick-bowl handy just in case.)

Lies and spin. Violent aggression. Theft. Interfering in people’s lives. These four behaviours cause the great majority of human suffering and many deaths worldwide. Enabling individuals to change these behaviours would avoid 50 per cent of the cost of government, 75 per cent of injustices and 100 per cent of wars. Unfortunately, there is no one solution for changing these behaviours – but there are more and less effective ways. My research has helped identify a less effective way – voting at the ballot box for one or another dishonest politician – as well as more effective ways, for example the use of satire or ridicule to change the climate of thought.

Much of my work has focused on the question of whether being given a personal risk of sacking, imprisonment or public humiliation, based on the individual’s political record, might prompt a change in behaviour to reduce these risks. What we have found is that while risk information can alter a politicized individual’s perception of risk, on average it does not change their behaviour, their lust for power or their hatred for humanity. Few of them have what it takes to swim against the political currents of the time, or more prosaically, to bother to earn an honest living on the market as long as they can take their fill (and more) at the taxpayer trough. So, while exquisitely sensitive to risk information concerning immediate threats to life and career, politicized individuals often discount the risk of being brought to justice in the future against the pleasures of current power, fame and living very comfortably off other people’s efforts.

Formulating the reasons why communicating an individual’s risk does not generally change behaviour shifted my focus away from ethics-based interventions aimed at motivating politicized individuals to try to be honest, or peaceful, or simply to live and let live, towards less subtle routes to behaviour change involving treating them as the criminals and enemies of humanity they are.

The brobdingnagian task now is to systematically and split-infinitively describe the characteristics of environments that shape our behaviour – for good and ill – including physical, religious, epistemological, ethical, political and economic ones. At the Political Crime and Justice Unit that I direct, our current focus is upon the physical cues in our environments that shape politicians’ behaviour. These include the raised voice (with or without expletives), the spittle blob and the well aimed egg or tomato. The impact of some of these cues on behaviour can be large and, when repeated sufficiently often by sufficiently many people, can have significant effects. For example, from the results of our systematic review of 19 experimental studies, we estimate that removing and ostracizing the scum that have risen to the top of the septic tank that passes for government today, together with all their bureaucrat and academic hangers-on, would improve the quality of life for human beings in the UK by at least 66 per cent.

One barrier to applying the results of this research comes in the form of the ‘false agenda effect’. Put simply, those with an agenda to control others will promote anything that seems to make a case for that agenda, regardless of truth or of ethical concerns, and without any consideration of human rights such as liberty, property and privacy. Virtually all politicians, and some members of the public, are prone to this effect, reflected in the discourse of their personal choice and amplified by those that support or profit from a bloated, active political state, such as the mainstream media, arms manufacturers, bureaucrats and politicized academics and teachers.

Realising environments that enable more honest, peaceful and rights-respecting behaviour – for example, sacking all politicians, bureaucrats, BBC employees and politicized university professors, and cancelling their pensions – requires some level of public awareness of the truth. Evidence is emerging that public support for such interventions increases when individuals become aware of how badly they have been lied to and misled, when they become alienated from political society, and when they acquire contempt and loathing for those that have done these things to them. Such intervention will be perceived as effective at achieving the valued outcome only when it upholds, for all human beings, our right to behave according to our free and conscious wills in all situations not countermanded by any of the three rules of a free, civilized society. These rules are, first, objective justice for all; that is to say, each individual should be treated, over the long term and in the round, as he or she treats others. Second, moral equality and the rule of minimal, honest law. And third, respect for the rights and freedoms of other human beings.

Ironically, this means that there is now a vital new role for effective, honest communication of truth, ethical principles and the ideas of individual freedom, this time focused on increasing our support for interventions to get the politicized and their hangers-on off our backs, make them compensate us for the damage they have done to us, and let us live our own lives in our own way. How to increase public demand for such interventions is a research question to which my group and others in Umbrage are now turning.

Having eschewed research on honest and truthful communication as a poor means for changing behaviour, I now see it as core. Without public demand, the criminal scum currently in power, and their hangers-on, will continue to pollute and destroy our environments and to make our lives intolerable. With public demand, we have a sporting chance of getting rid of the bastards, and of implementing what we now know are the keys to a free, civilized society. That is, objective justice for all; the rule of minimal and honest law; and respect for the rights and free will of others.