my recent brush with this comes from Couliano's Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, where he notes that Giordano Bruno's De vinculis in genere presupposes no rights for the thing or person manipulated, reserving all rights to the manipulator. this is also, obviously, the case in Machiavelli.
now, i normally don't question this, since i don't believe in "rights" in the first place (i think that they are a tool of manipulation, which can be useful at times, but are usually simply annoying). however, the supposition comes often enough that i am left questioning if Couliano's analysis might be a better formulation: that is, in any situation wherein a person might legitimately assert a "right", and that "right" comes into conflict with another person's "right", then whoever is best able to assert the "right" is the one who has the "right".
as in, person A feels that they have the right to self-determination, but salesman B feels that they have the right to free expression. salesman B is justified in using hypnotic/magical and other manipulative sales techniques on person A, as person A is theoretically able to resist the techniques and assert his right, while salesman B is theoretically able to overcome person A's resistance and so assert his right. whoever succeeds wins, as it were.
this may, however, lead to social structure distortions. Bruno also notes that religion exists for the purpose of normalizing the behavior of populations, increasing the stability of those populations and increasing their susceptibility to manipulation (prefiguring Marx and Engels, though without the moral opposition). if a large proportion of the population then becomes capable of making the above distinction of the relative value of rights, it follows that the dominant religion would be undermined.
now, this is obviously an elitist point of view, which i have no problem with in general, but i'm left looking for a way to justify this system to people who maintain a knee-jerk opposition to elitism. why justify it? maybe it's the populist in me, i don't know.