Fundamental, natural rights are those rights which everyone can simultaneously claim and/or exercise without forcing another to serve their needs or purposes.
Here are the exact definitions of the words unalienable, and inalienable:
Inalienable is defined “as incapable of being surrendered or transferred; at least without one’s consent.” (Morrison v. State, Mo. App., 252 S.W.2d, 101, author’s emphasis)
Unalienable means “incapable of being alienated, that is, sold and transferred.” (Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, pg. 1523, author’s emphasis)
– NOTE: There are a few points that should probably have been included in this fairly spontaneous, little monologue:
1) Not only are fundamental natural rights unalienable, but the corresponding duties are as well. They are, essentially, two sides of the same coin. It is as impossible to separate rights and duties from each other as it is to alienate unalienable fundamental rights from humanity itself.
2) George Mason states in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Section One:
“That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
Obviously, the point is essentially the same. George Mason, by using the word inherent, made the argument associated with our Fundamental Rights being unalienable and, thus, the point still remains intact. However, to be clear, he did not use the word inalienable in that section. Sorry for the minor error.
It is interesting that there are multiple state Constitutions that do use the words “inherent” and “inalienable” in the same sections in reference to rights. (e.g. Illinois and Utah)
3) I am not inferring that the cliche argument against the “selfish” libertarians in the more mainstream political mindset has credence. Obviously, for example, it is pretty easy and convenient for a socialist to claim to be pseudo-“charitable” with someone else’s stuff taken via government force! And it is not as if, in a free society, they would not have the ability to give away as much of their own stuff as they desired, which, of course, further destroys their own shallow criticism of “libertarianism.” However, on the other hand, I am asserting that those that claim a more constitutional, or libertarian approach to government often overreact intellectually and often completely overlook how their rights relate to other people. Without that understanding, the pro-freedom arguments are incomplete and must needs fall short.
4) I made an incomplete point in referring to the fact that we do not have a right to government. To make it extremely clear, looking back I would have added two words to that statement:
We cannot and do not have a right to a government which involves others!
Obviously, that clear distinction needs to be made. We do have an unalienable right to self-government, or, in other words, a right to government of one, by one, and for one. But we do not have a right to society, or a government, which involves other people. That would be outside the definition of a true fundamental, natural right.
5) It would be more precise to refer to the social “contract,” as a social compact. This will be more clear in the future when we cover the topic in detail.