“Man holds these rights, not from the Collective nor for the Collective, but against the Collective – as a barrier which the Collective cannot cross; . . . these rights are man’s protection against all other men.”

Ayn Rand, “Textbook of Americanism,” (1962)

The Ayn Rand Column, p. 83

Only individuals have rights. A group or nation can only have rights by metonymy. The rights of any group, including a nation, are in reality nothing more than the rights of the individuals comprising it, with the group acting as agent of its members with their consent (if it is a legitimate collective, that is). If a group, such as a nation, claims rights over and above those had by its individual members, that is called collectivism.

What is promulgated today as “human rights” are not individual rights or the rights of man. Far from it. One does not have rights simply by belonging to the human species, which is a collectivist premise. One only acquires rights by grasping and respecting what men need to be men in a social context. It is only one’s potential to become a man (if one is not already a man)that gives any justification for one to be afforded rights-recognition by those who have grasped rights, and then only if one is respecting rights.

Rights are not subject to vote, only privileges are. A majority can act to impose its will on a minority by initiation of force, but it cannot do so by right – just as a dictator can impose his or her will on a populace, but cannot do so by right. In both cases, imposing one’s will can only be done by power, that is, by might. The will of the one or the many can only be imposed on others by exercising coercive power over the lives and property of others, and by claiming privilege in the process.

The rights of man the individual are the only valid concept of rights. So-called collective rights, including “human rights,” are the anti-concept of rights. Anti-concepts are “an artificial, unnecessary, and (rationally) unusable term, designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concepts – a term which sounds like a concept, but stands for a ‘package-deal’ of disparate, incongruous, contradictory elements taken out of any logical conceptual order or context, a ‘package-deal’ whose (approximately) defining characteristic is always a non-essential. This last is the essence of the trick” [30]. So-called human rights obliterate the rights of man.

No group, not even the human race, has the right to do what no individual man has the right to do.