We are led to believe, in western Democracies, that legality and morality are related. We are taught that our governments make something illegal because it is, at root, immoral. We pride ourselves in our ability to discern true evil from true good and then dictate behavior to men, through the coercive power of the state and according to the law, in the service of the good, where the good is not merely what is subjective according some ultimately unproven/unverified root assumption about the nature of reality (metaphysics), but is Absolute…or as close as humanity can come to it.
The truth, however, is that legality and morality are entirely different ethics, as I have discussed in previous articles on this blog. If something is illegal, then it is only immoral apart from the law. That is, what is illegal may be immoral, but it can be so only when it is removed out from under the auspices of law and the metaphysics from which law stems. That is, though an illegal act may also be immoral, the law cannot recognize it as such. It is NOT immoral according to the law. This is because ethical behavior dictated by law precludes choice, because the law FORCES behavior via the coercion of the state regardless of one’s will to engage in it or not. This is the nature of law…this is the whole POINT of law. Obedience, not choice, is how the law is fulfilled. And obedience means that ethics are rooted in authority—the State—and the authority’s legal imperative to compel man to submit to the law by violence, if necessary. To underwrite ethics by requiring submission to authority as the means by which ethical behavior will be brought about renders choice irrelevant. “Obey or die” is the fundamental mantra…meaning that under law the authority, the State, has the right to force you to act in specific ways that the law deems ethical, up to and including your death.
Morality on the other hand—that is, true good—demands choice, and so it can have nothing fundamentally to do with law. To be moral means necessarily to act morally. And the only means by which one can act morally is to will it. To choose it. Only choice makes an act truly moral or immoral.
The reason that crime is never eliminated in a society ruled by law and not by choice has nothing to do with human nature—that “there will always be bad people” as we are so often told. This is merely a form of ethical determinism which ultimately renders morality irrelevant, and paves the way for rapacious and mendacious men to seize power under the guise of “keeping the peace” or “ensuring a civilized society”. It’s all a lie. If you don’t belive me, take a cursory look at America’s national debt and then ask yourself how a financial liability like that happens in the absence of selfish, power-drugged, self-worshiping boobs.
The answer is, it doesn’t.
Further, the argument “there will always be bad people” is non-falsifiable, which makes it tautological, and ultimately nonsensical. The argument is that there will always be bad people because man is inherently bad. In other words, there will always be bad people because there will always be bad people. But here’s the truth: The reason why crime is never eliminated under the rule of law is because law, by necessarily excluding choice, wrecks morality.
The only way to eliminate crime, you see, is to eliminate the market for crime. The only way to eliminate the market for crime is to incentivize people to stop buying it, as it were, which in turn demands that men will stop selling it. And the only real and fundamental way to disincentivize crime is to define and value it according to what is truly immoral; and the only way to do that is to make ethics a function of choice, not obedience to the law. Once we define crime as truly immoral, and rationally and objectively so, and value it as such, man can understand that it is rationally and objectively destructive to himself, at all times and in all contexts. And thus, the consequences for crime are real, absolute, and existential. [Note: A discussion of morality as a function of an objective metaphysical premise—that is, a rational definition of the nature of reality—is beyond the scope of this article; please reference this blog for other articles dealing with this topic.]
Law cannot make crime immoral, as I said, because it invalidates choice. And so, at root, law cannot give a real, rational reason why people should avoid it. “So you don’t get punished by the authorities” is not a real, lasting, or fundamentally meaningful incentive because the consequences for crime defined by law are not really objective, and thus have nothing to do with the fundamental nature of reality. The consequences of crime defined according to the law have nothing to do with any real devaluation of man qua man. The law serves the authority at root, not the individual. It has nothing to do with man, and thus it says nothing about his true worth and his true value and his true morality. And I submit that men instinctively know this. And that is very, very important.
The law is not “to the man”, so to speak, but to the state. To the authority. Violations of law are not violations of morality when morality is defined according to the ethics of law, which is the only way the state CAN define it, because the state is FORCE, by its very nature, not choice. Thus, the commission of crime is really only bad for the state—the authority—not for man, himself, as far as the law is concerned. And I believe that men instinctively know this as well. Therefore, as far as the individual is concerned, who has been taught that morality is a function of law, breaking the law is only “bad” if he gets caught. So crime becomes a gamble, not an act of immorality. If one can commit a crime beyond the eyes of the authority, then there is no consequence for crime. The commission of a crime says nothing about the individual, morally and existentially speaking, because the law is not about recognizing his individuality and therefore his will and choice, but rejecting the legitimacy of these things, and thus is about nothing more than subordinating him to the authority.
Without the authority to enforce it, the law is neutered, and the law cannot define moral and immoral behavior, so a man not caught hasn’t actually done anything wrong, according to the law. Unless you are caught and punished, you never did anything bad, because “right” and “wrong” are only relevant if the law judges you. And before the law can judge you the authority must catch you. So crime, again, legally speaking, is merely a gamble. A game of chance; or a game of desire. A high chance of evading the law can make the commission of a crime very rewarding; a desire that transcends the fear of getting caught and/or the pain of punishment makes it worth committing the crime. But a truly immoral act is never worth it…and can never be worth it. Period. A truly immoral act can destroy the individual at his very root Self, now and forever. And this, and only this, will ultimately deter men from acts of immorality, and eventually weed out from humanity those who would choose such acts for whatever vile reason.
I am, of course, not suggesting that men break the law…that would be an entirely false and foolish interpretation of my arguments here. I am suggesting that if society’s objective is the elimination of crime, then we must understand the difference between morality and legality, and why the two are not compatible, and why the former is rational and the latter is not, and how thus the latter ironically guarantees the perpetuation and promotion of that which it seeks to end.