Arbitrary Law, Rationality and Ethics [draft]
[@thepopularfront on Twitter requested that I elaborate my statements concerning the illegitimacy of positive-law (law by decree); the following is a draft that loosely contains my rationale but is by no means of high-quality in composition at this time; if enough interest is generated, I may revise/edit it in the future]
Law, as it is referred to in the vernacular, is the written code of the ruling-class; whosoever rules, writes down their wishes, their opinions, their decrees, so as to pretend that the law that they compose does not represent their own designs, but rather the rules of some amorphous abstraction independent of the legislators, commonly referred to as, "the rule of law".
But this kind of "law" does not write-itself, it is not discoverable by any means except by the explicit expression of the ruling-class and therefore, it is the will of the legislators, who in conjunction with the other "branches" of the ruling-class, enforce this law and adjudicate its application; and because no person has the capacity to know the mind of another, except by that other's expression of it, the legislators to make their will known, compose and publish "the law" which they wish to contend, exists as an entity wholly independent of its authors.
The law must be is composed and published, because the legislators/authors desire to obfuscate their responsibility for its creation; they refer to the "law" as if it had its own life, its own existence independent of its written expression, arbitrary adjudication, and enforcement by violence. This "law" represents a standing-coercive-threat to all who might violate the dictates of the ruling-class; it represents an institution of coercion which threatens to compel all others to obey its decrees.
In some sense, this "law" may be preferable to other tyrannical legal/violence systems such as, "the king's will is the law" but ultimately, in such a tyranny, at least the tyrant/king, by all apprehension, is immediately responsible for his/her own decrees. In a system of "rule of law" there is none who accepts this responsibility; the ruling-class and their agents seek to abdicate responsibility for their actions and to transfer that responsibility to the "law" itself.
When Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer (lieutenant colonel) was asked during the trial held in Jerusalem (1961), "Was it difficult
for you to send these tens of thousands of people their death?"
Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it was easy. Our
language made it easy." Asked to explain, Eichmann said,
"My fellow officers and I coined our own name for our language.
We called it amtssprache -- 'office talk.' In office talk
"you deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody
says, 'Why did you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why did you have
to?' 'Superiors' orders. Company policy. It's the law.'"
The psychological principle at work in the conceptual framework of the "rule of law" is that demonstrated by the Milgram experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment); a person who is given an order by someone considered to be in a position of authority, permits themselves to take actions that they would not, of their own accord, have taken under their own responsibility; the command of one considered to be an authority, allows the person so commanded to psychologically abdicate their responsibility for taking their actions, "I was only following orders of my superior" or "I was only acting in accordance to the law".
This "law" as it is used in the vernacular, is represented by the ruling-class and its agents as if decreed by an infallible and unquestionable deity; it is treated as if something external to the desires and opinions of the rulers, and through use of 'Amtssprache' considered absolutely infallible and immune to question.
The use of "law" in the vernacular is a corruption of the term "law"; it substitutes what is posited by the rulers, for what is discoverable by reason. This is the primary cause for the desire of the ruler to compose and publish their decrees; for they wish to emulate and adopt the undeniability of that law which is discoverable by reason, so as to publish their decrees, so that they are at least by apprehendable by arbitrary decree, if not individual rationality itself.
Augustine wrote: "An unjust law is no law at all."
Why is an 'unjust law, no law at all'? For the reason, that law, like laws of physics, is supposed to be discoverable by reason; it is supposed to correspond with what is rational and discoverable by the rational-mind. This is the only rational meaning of law in the expression, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"; for if by "law" the speaker intended to imply the copious dictates by legislatures, then all persons would be ignorant of the law, for no one knows all of the laws, that allegedly apply to themselves at any give time; but if the law is discoverable by reason, then the laws applicable should be obvious to the rational-apprehension and therefore to plead ignorance to what is obvious, is what is implied by having "no excuse".
The law which is discoverable by reason (sometimes referred to as "Natural Law"), as to the ethical treatment of other persons, must conform to reason and rationality. We may see children who intuitively/rationally know this kind of law; they know they do not wish to be harmed by others and they have empathy enough (if they have been cared for and not been too abused) to know it to be unjust/unethical/irrational to harm others.
Those "laws" which are the dictates of legislators impute no duty to obey upon anyone who does not choose to comply; the "laws" of "legislators" have no more authority as conferred by reason, as your neighbor has to write down her own "laws" and to compel you to obey them. Yet the law which is discoverable by reason, which represents rational interactions with other rational beings, can only be violated, if the violator to denies either their own rationality and thereby acts as a beast without rationality, or, far more commonly, to deny their victim the status of "rational being" and to treat them as a mere-beast.
This analysis and evaluation is my theory of a
rational/secular theory of ethics. It assumes a recognition that in the phenomenon of experience, we experience a sort-of dual-manifestation; a rational-consciousness which cogitates
and a body which acts in the world which we experience; but it is not
precisely a duality, for there is a unity in the manifestation (we
cannot completely divorce ourselves from our consciousness, nor the body
in which we manifest) but the sort of duality is in the phenomenon of
experience itself. In this phenomenon of experience, rational-beings manifest as both
rational-consciousness and animal-actors; there are choices that can be made,
patterns of thought which can be encouraged or discouraged to emphasize
either or both parts of our possible manifestations.
I then take it to be absurd that a person acting in their rational capacities AND acknowledging another as a rational-being, a human-being, to comprehend the choice to act so as to initiate aggressive action upon another; some premise must concede in the initiation of aggression; the actor of initiation of aggression must either deny to themselves their own rationality, or they must deny the rationality of the another.
Ethics and the law which is discoverable by rationality, and which accepts the rationality of others, can conceive of no other possibility; either one must assert their own rationality and to deny the rationality of others, so as to treat others as chattel, as things to be owned and controlled, asserting the denial of another's person-hood, OR they must themselves, through implication of their actions, deny their own rational-consciousness/person-hood and so as act as a beast or force-of-nature themselves (the actor of the initiation of aggression).
When a person seeks to initiate aggression against another, they have at some level or the other, encouraged either an irrationality in themselves or a rationality that must deny the rationality of other persons exhibiting the aspects of rational-beings. This theory assumes the recognition that for ethics or rationally apprehended law to take place, two assumptions must be made, the first that the actor, is herself rational, and second, that others displaying behavior in keeping with rationality, are rational themselves; rationality and empathy/sociability are the two critical components/premises of this theory.
In as much as people rarely act in the sense of the beast or brute of nature, the far more common ethical violate, implies the denial of the rational-person-hood of others; the actions of the Nazi holocaust and colonial slavery in the Americas are two obvious examples of this denial of person-hood but the publication, enforcement and adjudication of "law" in our society maintains the same principle. The "law" of the legislators assumes that the non-rulers are not rational-beings capable of self-ownership, nor free-people, nor rational-consciousnesses; they are in principle chattel-livestock to be ordered, controlled and punished for their potential "disobedience" to the law as ordained by other persons/rational-consciousnesses. The "law" as it is used in the vernacular is the institutionalization of domination within the society; creating a class of rulers/sociopaths which assert their rationality and their "authority" to rule, and therefore deny to others the status of rational-beings, human-beings, which consist of self-owners of their own bodies/actions-of-bodes.
The "Amtssprache" of the institutionalization of domination, allows those following the "law" of the rulers, allow themselves to abdicate their ethical responsbility to recognize others as rational-beings; they permit themselves to take actions which imply that others are not fully-human; they permit themselves by way of cognitive dissonance to become Milgram-sociopaths.
I leave the judgement of this theory to the reader to consider whether my assumptions are sound and my reasoning valid.