Law Versus Goodness

Dear Friends,

It seems to me, I am neutral on law and order, but am strongly for goodness. Law can be used both for evil as well as good, and so where law is used to promote good, I am all for it, but where law is used to promote evil, I am against it. Which goes a long way to explaining my political beliefs as well. Since I only see law as a means and not an end, I am ambivalent to it and would rather less than more, which makes me a libertarian. Sadly, law is more often used to promote evil rather than good, which is why only extremely limited laws, criminalizing violations of natural law, should be allowed. For example, laws against theft, murder, rape, slavery, etc… Laws that serve to advance the interests of a faction above the rest of society are by their nature, laws that promote evil. The libertarian ethos, that laws should be limited so that good can blossom and evil wither, are in my opinion better than, a spiderweb of incoherent laws that criminalize everything making everyone a criminal, so that evil can blossom and goodness be restrained. The spiderweb theory however is far more progressive.

Machiavelli suggests in his book, The Prince, that he is a law and order guy and neutral on good versus evil. In one passage he said that orderly tyranny is preferable to chaotic freedom… since under despotic rule only the aristocracy felt the jack boot, while business can be conducted, but under chaos, one cannot leave the house without danger and so everyone starves. He would exchange good for order, while in the short run that may appear to be a wise choice, in the long run it is the worst option possible. Since evil always leads to suffering, otherwise it would be good, the longer evil is allowed to grow the more suffering will result. Saying that minimizing short term suffering, so that much more can be had in the future, is not as wise as exchanging a little suffering in the short term, for much less in the future. Like getting a broken tooth fixed, it is better to suffer through the dentist, than to suffer weeks of agony with a raw nerve in your mouth.

Laws are a means to an end, that end can be goodness or evil. To confuse law as an end is a common fallacy. To say laws are a means is to say that laws are like tools, they are used to make something different from what it was. A chisel for example turns a block of wood into a statue, tool handle, chair, etc… It takes something that exists and changes it’s form to something that didn’t exist before. Well controlled a chisel can create these and many more good things, but poorly handled, it can ruin far more than it creates. Imagine someone who has never handled a chisel before… using one on a Stradivarius?!?!? Laws are no different. In wise hands they create goodness and are utile, but in evil or foolish hands they create chaos and poverty. Moreover, to complain it is the chisel that ruined the antique furniture, or deign the chisel supernatural, because it was used to create a finely hewn statue, is to misunderstand the role of a tool versus the hand that wields it.

People believe chaos is turned into order by laws, but in fact, order is the natural or ground state of human groups, and chaos is introduced through intrusive, inhuman hearted… laws, regulations or mores. Customs and courtesy are merely the acknowledgment of how successful people interact with others. Since we all want our children to be successful, we impart those truths like custom and courtesy to them, which promotes order outside law. Laws on the other hand are usually enacted by people who seek to order society as they would have it… rather than as the complex system would order itself. The result is that law often serves evil rather than good. It creates chaos by creating pernicious incentives and leaders that set bad examples. Leaders that set bad examples have to make numerous laws to keep the people from following them into perversion, robbery, lying and profligacy. Which, if the people do and become reprobates like their leaders, chaos would result and all of society would collapse.

So I am ambivalent on law and order and instead seek goodness. Law is only a means to goodness but itself has no intrinsic value, but where law is used for evil I am firmly against it. Law does not necessarily promote order, as is commonly thought, but often actually creates chaos. When it is used to keep the people from following their corrupt leaders, law is become hypocrisy, which makes all of society and everyone in it, hypocrites. The only good laws are those that comport with natural law and never to hold people back. A family has a yard sale every Saturday and some people become offended. “They have made it a business!” Some loudly complain. “We need to pass a ordinance that all yard sales need a permit!” Others say… and soon the town has passed a law that does not promote anyone’s interests, damages the interests of a family who is probably poor, and makes it that much harder for anyone, let alone the politically disfavored in the community, to have a stupid yard sale! Laws that promote good, I am all for, but those that promote evil should be done away with.


John Pepin

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