Freedom, under capitalism, has only one meaning: freedom from the initiation of force by others. In a political context, freedom means to live in a social system based on individual rights, or in practical terms, freedom has only one specific meaning — freedom from the initiation of force by other men. By initiation I mean those who start the use of force to achieve their ends, i.e., a bank robber. Only the initiation of force against a man can stop his mind, thus rendering it useless as a means of survival. Only by the initiation of force can a man be: prevented from speaking, or robbed of his possessions, or murdered. Only through the initiation of force can a man’s rights be violated.
To live rationally by one’s reason in society, man needs only one thing from his fellow men: freedom. The freedom to live for oneself, neither sacrificing oneself to others, nor sacrificing others to oneself — the freedom to pursue one’s own happiness. It is this freedom that unleashes the creative potential of man’s mind, resulting in a society of nationwide peace, continuous progress and boundless prosperity.
To live in society, man requires freedom of action. Freedom of action does not mean freedom to act by permission, which may be revoked at any dictatorial tyrant’s, or democratic mob’s whim, but freedom to act as an absolute — by right.
“Rights” are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual’s actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.” — AYN RAND
To live rationally by one’s reason in society, man needs only one thing from his fellow men: freedom of action.
He requires rights to those actions necessary to support his own life, the most fundamental right being the right to life, from which all other rights, including the right to liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness derive.
Suggested Reading: Man’s Rights by Ayn Rand
Freedom of action does not mean freedom to act by permission, which may be revoked at any dictatorial tyrant’s, or democratic mob’s whim, but freedom to act as an absolute — by right.
All rights are rights to freedom of action. That is, the right to those actions necessary to support ones life — so long as they do not violate the rights of others. Keep in mind that rights are not guarantees that those actions will always be successful. Thus, the right to pursue happiness, does not necessarily mean achievement — it only means one is free to pursue what one thinks will make one happy.
Pursuit does not mean attainment, though it is a necessary precondition to attaining it. Similarly the right to life, is the right to take those actions necessary to survive, free from the physical compulsion and interference of other men. The right to life does not mean that one can force others to support ones life against their will. [what rights do guarantee is that if your actions are successful, no one may rob your of the results of those actions].