4.28.2008

Unmistakably Lawless

"Laws, good people don't need 'em, and bad people don't obey 'em, so what good are they?" ~ Utah Phillips

Aside from the sheer black and white philosophy of that statement, the old folksinger brings up a good point. What good are laws, anyway? Do they really serve a purpose in society? Some say that civilized society is impossible without laws. Do laws create order or impose harmful restrictions that devalue society? Many say laws create order, and do no harm.

Let's take a look at how society creates, abandons, and lives with law, order, and the justice system. And let me take the time to explain to you why all of this lawfulness is simply not necessary.


Say what?

"Did you just try and tell me society can thrive without laws?" Yes, I did. You see, the average person uses history, and the overwhelming abundance of law as their rock solid argument for the benefits of it, as well as the reason for it's introduction into human society. I would like to argue however, that there is a difference between Law and guidelines or "rules".

The former is what we are accustomed to in modern day society on a broad scale. It is "Law and Order", it is "Crime and Punishment" it is a formidable justice system designed to take once reasonably resolved issues and relegated it to largely detached groups known and lawyers, and judges to determine one's fate.

The latter is what we know as "house rules". We are all quite accustomed to this concept, right in our own little nuclear villages known as our homes, and families. No one ever seems to connect the adaptability of "house rules" on a slightly larger scale to create a world of both order and stability without the nasty side effects of a State driven hierarchy.

Side effects? Yes, that nasty habit of power developing out of the need for law and order. Power is corruptible, ergo, hierarchies are also inherently corruptible. The two, of course, feed on one another and cannot really be separated. Corruption of course leads to oppression, and oppression leads to slavery, and well you get the idea. Laws also have a nasty habit of breeding into ever more constrictive policies, thus restricting humans from living even their own private life they way that they see fit.



Besides, laws don't even work.

Laws don't actually prevent very much at all. The threat of legal action looming over society's head does very little in the way of keeping people out of trouble. What it does do, is exact revenge for those who do not wish to conform to the laws of a society, no matter how arbitrary.

If law worked, we would have a nearly crime free society. Instead we are inundated with crime, even more so than before. Countries with liberal laws tend to have less crime over all. One reason for that is the mere fact that many behaviors are not criminalized so that people who are behaving in ways that don't affect society aren't clogging up the entire system, and preventing bigger problems from being rectified. There is another reason that I will address in just a moment.

Laws only react. Reactionary techniques have failed mankind on almost every level, for the most part. Specifically with regards to the prevention of anything.

Do laws harm society?

It is my opinion that they do. Give me a minute to make my argument before you run off screaming about silly Anarchists and their wild ideas. While the general premise of establishing some sort of ethical code is a commendable ideal, the forcible institution of said ethical codes based on the opinion of a few and possibly even the arbitrary can and does harm society.

First and foremost, the Law as we know it requires a force of people given the authority to decide what is right and what is wrong without the consensus of the people subjugated to that power. As I have mentioned, power is corruptible, as we can see in our legal system. The power to control these laws on a local level means giving enormous amounts of power to men and women who are just as corruptible as the next man. This kind of power holding and corruption is harmful to society. Just as the abuse of a person by their superior is abhorrent on a personal level - so too is it abhorrent on a larger societal level.

The second reason is because the Laws are ever increasingly restrictive. So much so that it delves into your personal life, and personal decisions that have little effect on anyone but yourself. By criminalizing otherwise harmless behavior the "system" is then overburdened with petty crimes and complaints and has to use what little resources it has on that, rather than on larger, more serious problems in society.

Third, it focuses on reaction and punishment, rather than prevention and reward. If we, as a society, could get our act together and actually teach people why we should behave in certain ways, rather than simply telling everyone what will happen if we don't, we could feasibly have a self sustaining crime free society. That of course, requires a great deal of personal responsibility however.

Speaking of personal responsibility...

Although many people disagree with me on this point, it's my point so I'll make it if I want to. Laws take the responsibility of behavior out of the people's hands, thus creating a black hole of personally developed ethical and moral codes beyond some very basic codes of character. It is, as some people call it, the "Nanny State". The governmental hierarchy that establish laws across any given country begin to take on the role of a parental figure, dictating what isn't acceptable behavior, and threating punishment if we don't behave ourselves. (This isn't the part most people disagree with, however). I personally see this increasing Nanny State as the reason and the need for more laws, and heavier restrictions. You know, to keep us from hurting ourselves, as it were.

As the Nanny State continues to tell us what we cannot do, for our own good, it fails to tell us what we can do. It lures us into a false sense of safety, many times making life more difficult, and even more dangerous. Many people have adopted an ideology that is "If it isn't against the law, it must be OK to do". When pondering a situation they ask "Is it against the law? No, OK then, I guess we can do it". It seems to me that I rarely see people actually examining the situation, and behaving in a way that is beneficial to society, regardless of what the law says.

As more and more people adopt this ideology, they continue to do things which are without any sense or thought, they get hurt, and thus create a new need for a new law. We are tainting the learning curve here and creating a vicious cycle.

"Well the company never told me I couldn't use this product this way...". "Well, gee I didn't know it wasn't safe to do that, there was no law saying I couldn't...."

There oughtta be a law!

As fun as that is to say, the unfortunate truth is that many people see other people doing dumb things, and they say it, and sooner or later, wouldn't you know, there is a new law, or regulation addressing that same idiotic behavior.

What was my point again? Oh yes - by continually telling people what they cannot do, and creating more laws when people think they can do something they really ought not do, we are dumbing down society, and all but relegating personal responsibility to the far reaching corners of the globe. This is very harmful for society.

Responsible behavior is much easier to lose, than it is to regain.

So what then, you ask. Do we dive into a world of animal instincts? No, of course not. True "lawlessness" is not possible in modern day society for the very reason I mentioned above. It's like a drug, we can't seem to live without it. It could be possible, with an awful lot of work and a serious weening period, but we would descend into chaos if we tried to go cold turkey.

It can work however. Remember those "house rules' I mentioned in the beginning? Yes, you can use those, and begin to recreate or reestablish a society that is ordered and communal, lawless yet safe. Since many people think that it is the law that separates us form the animal kingdom, I would like to say one thing: Animals don't have laws, but they do have "house rules" and the animal kingdom does seem to be doing better than humans, at the moment.

What does separate us from the animal kingdom is our ability to learn, and evolve and progress through those evolutions in rapid fashion. Humans adapt to new situations very quickly, and have a creative and ethical streak that when combined with some old fashioned common sense should be able to moderate themselves.

At the very least.

We, the individuals who make up society, are selling ourselves short and underestimating our ability to do the right thing every time we make, or support a Law. Throughout history we have been told, sold, and forced into believing we cannot live without it to the point that the notion of necessity has been bred right into us.

Don't believe me? Take a look at remote tribes who function in a manner that is so foreign to us Westerners that we call them "primitive" or we pity them in some way. Yet the are surviving, living, evolving, and create worlds to live in that are nearly free of "crime" justice systems, regulations, and even gender and race barriers. They live fulfilled lives without everything we have right here, right now, and seem to be happier and safer because of it.

In many ways, they are better off than we are.

Stop selling yourselves short. You decide what is right for you.

14 comments:

Carl the Reasoned Anarchist said...

Very well written and reasoned argument, I could not say it better myself. I agree with every single point you raise, and it is precisely the over abundance of laws that have created a nasty element in society who have no concern for their neighbors (loud music), irresponsible actions (drink driving etc) and a variety of other ills that affect our society and which don't affect those primitive societies we pity so much.

an average patriot said...

Very good Anok!
No law no order is ridiculous!
Laws are made to be broken!
Laws don't bring order people do!
I do think though that sometimes locks keep some people honest!
However I do think as for acting properly laws make as many problems as they solve and good people will do good on their own no law necessary!

kdawg68 said...

I'm too conformist to go along with "no laws", but I agree with the sentiment that law can be corrupt, and that the application of law can favor certain groups over others.

Too many of the beliefs and rights we hold dear are derived from law for me to give up on the concept completely. One might argue that laws were necessary to establish the freedom of thought and expression necessary for us to be discussing this topic here.

I do think that we over legislate - and that since everything right down to presidential elections is decided in our courts (and indeed our rights are interpreted by judges), that our judicial/legislative branches have gone a bit super-nova.

What works for a remote tribe or smaller group of people, however, I don't think is as easily applied to the masses as we'd like. My take is that people need written instructions these days for how to put batteries in a flash light. It seems only logical that they'd need written instructions on what their "laws" are, as well as musings on how those laws are interpreted.

So, here's my unrelated question. You, my wise masked friend, have a penchant for lengthy posts, and much to say. Why the heck aren't you writing a book and then using your blog to push the book's promotion? Put your talents to use, grasshopper.

(meditating)ummmm, yim, yim, yim, yim, yim.
:)

Anok said...

Carl, as I said earlier, awesome comment!

Jim, You and I think so much alike, boy I don't know if I want to be in the room when we start brainstorming and such!

Kev, you sly horse you ;) To answer your last question first, this is supposed to be me working out the ins and outs of a book. SO you guys and gals are getting super sneak previews!

But I do want to address one of your comments:

Too many of the beliefs and rights we hold dear are derived from law for me to give up on the concept completely. One might argue that laws were necessary to establish the freedom of thought and expression necessary for us to be discussing this topic here.

What you just said, essentially, is that some people got together, and decided to forcibly take away our ability to have beliefs and a say (it would seem, because I can't think of any other way our inherent and basic human rights could be stripped if not forcibly) then they got together and decided to allow us to have some of those rights back.

Nobody allows my freedom to think, believe, speak or express myself. That allowance is as natural and inherent as breathing. No, what people do is tell me that their laws and rule is what allows me to do this, and so I should continue to obey them, and support them because if they go away, so do my rights.

Rights I already had to begin with.....

Other than that I think we agree on most things, but that is a pet peeve of mine - and a mind set I would love to disintegrate from the popular opinion category so that people actually can be free.

Oh, as for the tribes and such - we agree. That said, I believe that any style of governance that goes too big - even democracy - will fail.

Of course I keep holding out for the philosophical reality to hit that society is in fact made up of individuals, and if the individuals act accordingly, so too will society ;)

good to see you by the way ;)

Don Lewis said...

I'm by nature an optimistic fellow. I'm also a fairly serious student of history. And therefore I have every expectation that the philosophy you espouse is likely to come to fruition.

If we look at the rise and fall of all historic civilizations, we see the consistent growth of coercion. In fact, I no longer recognize the usefulness of the terms right or left, conservative or liberal. To me, the sliding scale of humanity is coersionist to non-coersionist.

Although all societies cycle between personal freedom and state-slavery, the larger multi-cycle trend has been towards freedom. It is a maturity of the species brought about by science, longevity, and prosperity. While I think we are (at least in the US) currently on the descending side of one of the small curves, there can be no doubt that personal freedom for the masses is better than in any previous "civilized" period in history.

It's simply a matter of humanity "growing up". And I think we are on that path. There will be more reversals, unfortunately, many of them bloody.

But there will come a day when most of humanity will say, "We no longer require the state as Father or Mother." Won't be in my time, but it will come.

kdawg68 said...

I didn't mean to suggest someone had to allow us the right to think/speak/etc. They can't be "unalienable" if they only exist when a body of govt. allows them.

Being a spiritual person, I always laugh when children answer questions about where their rights come from and they respond "the president" or "the supreme court." Didn't mean to suggest I was confused by that.

Even in these tribal communes - someone is going to decide what is and what isn't allowed. Whether that's a group of chiefs or some council of elders. It's been a while since my last peace pipe session in the wigwam, so my memory of this is a bit waning. All I know is that we must ally with the French fur traders and drive these vile English from our lands, lest the Iroqouis run rampant over Algonquin territory! :)

Write the book - if you write it, people will read (said in a spooky sort of voice that you might hear while working in a cornfield). :)

Kevin

an average patriot said...

Anok
it's funny, I would love to be there and it would be more than interesting as we are like minded. What kdawg said to you about Blogging to promote a book is what got me started more than 7 books ago and I have turned exclusively to waking people of all scopes up and it isn't working.
It reminds me of something my mother use to say when I was a little kid. "I can't help you unless you are willing to help yourself" most people are just not and are stupid enough to trust this misgovernment to do it for them. goodbye to them I say! Don't let the door hit you on the way out on second thought...

Matt said...

The are some countries in Africa that are pretty much an anarchy. Pretty much ruled by warlords. I don't think its working over there.

Anok said...

Kdawg, I see what you are saying now - I just misunderstood your point. Yup, in any grouping there will be "house rules" I think that it is human nature to try and organize "tribes' in that manner. However it is the manner in which it is done, and for what reason it is done that makes all the difference. Sure there are Elders - looked to for wisdom and guidance. But they are not dictators (well, OK, not usually, anyway). Decisions are often made cooperatively, rather than in a trickle down fashion.

That makes all the difference!

Jim, you ARE making a difference, in my opinion. So there :P

Matt, could you clarify your point? If a society or group is living under a warlord, then they are not living "in Anarchy" so to speak. That would be a dictatorship, of sorts.

Which tribes or villages are you speaking of?

~Static~ said...

You are quite right Anok. Or possibly "left". =P

Laws really do dumb down society, most people blindly follow orders by God and State, I think the legal system is set up to take away the ability for most people to make logical decisions on their own. A system set up for FAIL. I think reverse psychology could solve most of our problems.

But then again, I think "reverse" psychology is literally being applied, obviously, to create the mess we are in. To give the illusion of an iron grip that a corrupt judicial system and arbitrary government are actually authority figures capable of making decisions for it's citizens, keeping us all in line so to speak like a parent and it's children. But not really. How many people have faced corporal punishment in history or recently? Hmmm, yeah, quite a few. Kind of blows the theory of laws out of the water.

I also don't believe true "lawlessness" is possible. I happen to believe that most people still have MORALS, maybe they don't always use or display common sense but I think most of us have enough sense to know better within a reasonable percentage of the time. And common sense comes down to education, people can learn, it's time we stopped lowering the standards. These illusions just perpetuate the problems.

Complete lawlessness is a negative viewpoint and a baseless argument in my opinion. And so is the idea of corporal punishment.

Linda said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but tribes, while having their elders and hierarchy, also work towards the survival of the tribe, the preservation of its knowledge and culture and its daily needs. I think when you are charged with preserving your very existence, you don't need laws so much as common sense and a desire to do what must be done.
I have one thing to add though. being a mom, I raised my kids without laws or rules. I talked to them about self respect and respect of others instead. Sure there are times that they are doing their own thing and I don't like it, but my kids never got in trouble,not for want of trying. They possess too much respect for themselves and for me to go in the direction that some would call lawlessness.
I have seen the backlash of over lording kind of parenting in other kids, not a good experience. A family is a tribe to me, right here in the modern world we live in.We don't need laws on that level and if not on that level than why anywhere else?

Highlander said...

I was just going to say "excellent piece anok" but then I read all the comments and wanted to pick up on something kdawg68 said: "My take is that people need written instructions these days for how to put batteries in a flash light".

I think the instruction thing, and I see your point, is really an extension of the uber law making. People's ability to think for themselves is eroded as much by, for instance, written instruction as it is by TV, media et al. We have this entire unnecessary "support" structure which dumbs down almost all aspects of function. Mrs H jokes that there will soon be signs at the edge of the kerb stating "Warning! Kerb Ahead".

Further to that, the manufacturers include 'idiot guide' instructions in order that they can't be sued, via the very same legal system, when some idiot does electrocute himself, lose a digit or fall off the kerb.

And so the cycle repeats in ever intrusive law making...

Michael Mee said...

I think you did a pretty good job explaining that we can't just "quit" laws... So I don't know what to disagree with you over. I guess I do not believe it is ever possible. It requires unanimous consent. Unanimous universal agreement, no? Even then - there are laws - they are just unanimously agreed upon, so their enforcement is completely invisible.

Indeed, there are a lot of really really bad, unfair laws. But I see that as inevitable. We can work towards making laws better, educating voters about the things that we think they should believe, but to erase the place of law in society would require people to believe in a common objective morality - or at least, moralities that do not directly contradict one another.

Daniel Owen said...

Michael -- Agree with your first paragraph, disagree with your second paragraph.