Does there exist a current model of government, actively practiced, based on the concept that rights are granted from the Government to the people? This would be a contrast of the model of government demonstrated in the U.S., where it is built on the concept of rights being inherent of the people.


  • The government must, from its founding documents, be built on the concept that rights are granted by the government. Governments where rights are said to exist with the people, but negated by government action, do not qualify.
  • It must be some form of recognized government on the world stage, even if the recognition is due to dissatisfaction.

Additionally, if such a government exists, is there a near-history (less than 50 years) example of the government retracting rights that had been granted to the people?

  • This looks like an evolution of politics.stackexchange.com/questions/19851/… Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 22:23
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    See the problem I find with this question is that even in the US system, rights are enshrined in the constitution which is technically the government granting people rights, indeed in almost every form of government ever used except unlimited dictatorship rights have been granted to the governed, and every single law ever passed takes away some rights in favour of others e.g. a law on hate speech takes away the right to unlimited freedom of speech etc. Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 22:33
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    @SleepingGod - US system, at least nominally and pre-postprogressive era, recognizes negative rights as inherent (and the laws describe what rights the government cannot violate, NOT which ones they grant).
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 22:43
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    I'm tempted to guess that USSR was a valid example answer, but I'm not conversant enough with legalese of Soviet Constitution to be sure. Another plausible suspect is modern Sweden.
    – user4012
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 22:45
  • I think the word might be collectivism.
    – user9389
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


Arguably, the United Kingdom would come under this heading.

The US doctrine is that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights", viz. "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" and that – being "unalienable [sic]" – the Government has (in principle) no say over those rights. Admittedly that's from the Declaration of Independence rather than from the Constitution, but I think it sums up the principles quite well even if it's (arguably) not legally binding, and it's certainly in line with the question's interpretation of the situation.

In contrast, the British Constitution works under a principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty, i.e.

Parliament [is] the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution.

– taken from Parliament's website

Seeing as there's nothing that Parliament can't change, the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty would seem to suggest that all rights are granted to the people by Parliament, and therefore are subject to Parliament's whims. As it so happens, these days Parliament is (predominantly) popularly-elected, but that's not a necessary condition for its existence: it was a right granted to the people by Parliament and it, just like any other right, could be withdrawn.

Practically speaking, with the consent of the governed those "unalianable" rights of US citizens could be alienated – if they should, en masse, choose to give up some or all of those rights to life or liberty. And practically speaking, the "limitless" power of the British Parliament is restrained by international opinion, cultural norms, and angry mobs with pointy sticks.

  • UK governments and parliaments have for centuries routinely spoken as though some sort of natural rights exist. I would be very surprised if they truly consider human rights to just come from legislation.
    – Deolater
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 13:16
  • I always preferred the original, though less politically correct, version of the Declaration of independence: pursuit of property rather than happiness Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 13:44

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