Tag Archives: legality vs morality

How the Law Promotes Crime (Part Two)

The law, by making right and wrong a function of obedience, thus nullifying morality by nullifying choice, does not provide any fundamentally rational incentive for the individual to avoid the behavior the law forbids under threat of punishment via the state. The law tacitly proclaims the individual irrelevant. Even more than irrelevant. Counter productive; an aberration; anathema; a mistake; unnatural. The individual, you see, is self-aware, which means that he thinks for himself, and has an absolute frame of reference from himself (singular) that demands that he exist and act to and for himself. This is of course not what the state wants; it is not reflective of what the state needs and what the state is. The state, by its nature, demands that all individuals view reality from the perspective of the state, and act to and from and for ITSELF. Because the state is Authority. It is the incarnation of the collective ideal to which all men are then bound. The collective ideal is the reality which necessitates the Authority of the state…to compel individuals out of their individuality and into the collective.

But the individual of course cannot do this…for he only observes reality from a single existential position: himself. By his nature and because of that nature the individual chooses. He must chooose. He must will.

Because knowledge (thought) is rooted in distinctions between truth and lie, and good and evil, knowledge is the practical working out of these distinctions. And the practical working out of these distinctions implies choice. But the law sees choice as anathema…as completely unnatural. The law is force, and force has nothing to do with choice. Man cannot choose to obey because obedience implies force, and force makes choice irrelevant.

Absent choice—absent will—man has no frame of reference for himself. A man whose choice is considered illegitmate must also consider his existence illegitimate. For absent choice the distinction between right and wrong and true and false and good and evil are irrelevant to him, and thus any knowledge, even that of his own SELF, is entirely meaningless. And this, taken to its logical intellectual conclusion, means that no one actually exists to obey the law in the first place. As soon as the law becomes the ethical standard the individual ceases to exist. He cannot obey because he isn’t real. His very nature is anthethical to reality as defined and accepted by the state. And thus the state’s law delegitimizes man at the level of his root existence. And because he has been delegitimized, he cannot be truly, rationally, incentivized to obey.

The state will claim that the law safeguards the best interests of the individual (sometimes by explicitly collectivizing him, a la Marxist totalitarianism). But this is impossible because it cannot recognize him. And the individual, I submit, understands this fact in his base instinct, and therefore the market for crime goes up because the law provides no meaningful reason to obey it. All it can offer as a disincentive is punishment, but this inevitably fails because for man to be perpetually under law he is, implicitly, already punished, and perpetually so…for existing. And so if the desire or reward for committing a crime outweighs the chances of getting caught or the penalty, then crime, by the very ethics which underwrite the law, is going to be worth it. Crime thus has implicit value. And this, dear readers, is why there is a market for crime.

Further, and even more troubling, is that a given individual may view the commission of a crime—the disobeying of the law—as an expression of his truth…of his individuality. And thus he may feel empowered and even free by his crime. Of course certain acts defined by law as criminal can certainly also be immoral—as in the case of theft or murder, for example—but the criminal, should he intuit in his soul nothing more than that the law renders his individuality meaningless, will not apprehend this. He may engage in crime as a sort of means of self-expression, not understanding that just because an act is illegal does not mean that it is not also actually immoral.

Now, for those of us who do understand that violations of other individuals are immoral, the law at root has nothing to do with why we do not commit such acts. We do not commit them because they are illegal but because they are immoral. We reject them upon the truth of their immorality in spite of the law, understanding that the law has nothing to do with evil or good, but only with power. I submit that if someone refrains from murder simply because he does not want to be punished then he has committed murder already in his heart…because he has conceded the law’s false morality and rejected the value of the individual. For there is nothing truly immoral under law because the law does not recognize morality’s one true and rational standard:

You, and me.

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How the Law Promotes Crime (Part One)

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.

The Only Moral Plumbline

The only efficacious and rational moral question you should be asking yourself, which applies to every instant and instance of your life, is not “What should I be doing?”, or “What have I done?”, but “Is what  I am doing right now a direct violation of another human being (and a simple “cause and effect” concept can be applied here…to wit, is it a lie, a theft, a damage to property or body/mind, a murder)?” If the answer is “no” then you are acting morally; you are being moral.

No other moral question is rational, and therefore no other moral question is relevant. The reason for this is simple: What isn’t–that is, what you are NOT doing–cannot subject you to any moral valuation–because it does not exist.

Now, certainly, what you have done in the past, though it does not exist (as such…without getting into the sticky tentacles of the purely abstract nature of time) can be used as a legal and pragmatic standard. But it cannot be used as a moral standard for the simple reason that it does not necessarily represent your moral nature, which is now (and now is where everyone perpetually exists). Now is where man’s nature resides, and man’s nature is the only rational target of moral judgment. You might judge a past action as “moral” or “immoral”, but the “morality” or “immorality” of a past action does not necessarily have any rational bearing on the moral state of your person, because your person is always now. And the moral state of your person is the only thing that can be valued as moral with respect to morality qua morality. Past actions, which we might judge as moral or immoral can, again, be used for pragmatic or legal reasons, but not to judge one’s root moral state. And there is no rational moral condemnation for anything besides the root state–or the nature–of an individual.

So…unless you are directly violating another human being at the moment, you are not acting immorally. (Certainly and obviously, if you have a history of direct violations of others, reason would instruct you to change, or face the very real legal and practical ramifications of your behavior, which you have earned; also, existential condemnation is the consequence of an evil nature…so, if you are a repeat violator, you are in danger of throwing yourself into everlasting hell. And I’m not kidding. But that’s a topic for another article.)

Further, the reason I stipulate “direct” violations is because indirect violations are by definition subjective violations; they require conditional truth, as opposed to absolute Truth, and hence their innate insufficiency as moral qualifiers. In other words, indirect violations are those which must be qualified by an “if”: IF we assume that behavior X occurres in context Y, THEN we can call behavior X a moral violation. For example, IF we assume that the military is a fundamentally murderous enterprise, THEN we can say that all soldiers who have killed in battle are murderers. Of course, we can see the dubious integrity of such a standard, and the implicit collectivist ideology which undergirds it. The idea of claiming that ALL people who act under the auspices of a given ideology are all individually evil, while it may be true, is not necessarily true. I would argue that since immorality is a violation of individuals, then immorality must be gauged by its specific effects on specific individuals. This makes ideological context fundamentally irrelevant with respect to moral violations; but not “morality” per se…that is, morality as ethics–the ethical gauging of ideas which may lead to specific violations of specific individuals.

I submit that members of every group, no matter what its ideological basis, can be morally judged only according to their specific individual actions. This is why I completely reject armed revolution against governments, for example…it ends up hurting, punishing, or even murdering those who cannot rationally be said to have directly violated another individual. Cops, soldiers, various sundry workers and politicians…people with families who may have never done anything other than live and work within a given sociopolitical context, which, though it may be ideologically false, does not make living and working under it a moral violation. This is because ideologies are by nature collectivist, and collectivism cannot serve as the plumbline for individual acts of immorality (or morality at all for that matter). And morality qua morality only exists at the level of the individual.

Apropos to this, I believe that to collectivize immorality means to risk condemning men by nothing more than their group identity. And that is the root of every evil  that has ever existed.

Dictated Good is Not Morality, it is Legality

Dictated good does not equal morality, it equals legality. And if there is legality there can be no morality because they are at categorical odds with each other. Legality is “right” behavior compelled by violence–by the explicit “right” of violence possessed by the Authority, most often the State, to complete by force behavior to an abstract standard called “The Law”.  Thus, legality nullifies choice because violence to compel outcomes makes human will irrelevant.

“Obey or else” is not a choice; it is the antithesis of choice because punishment (the “or else”) is not something that can SERVE the individual; rather, it is the removal of his ownership of self, which is commensurate with the removal of his existence–which is literal when death is the punishment (and the ability to legally put to death is the very irreducible thing which underwrites all of governing authority; without which, there is no government). And if choice is nullified then moral agency is moot. That is, if one is not choosing to do good then there is no good being done, period. Which means that under the auspices of “dictated good”, or “right behavior” made manifest by violence (or the threat of violence, or punishment, which is the same thing) of the Authority which has been established specifically to govern human social interaction (which includes economic value exchange), there can be no moral act. For I submit that when morality is said to be a function of, or even a corollary or partner to law-keeping, then morality is impossible. Force, which necessarily and utterly underwrites the law, in any measure contradicts choice in absolute measure because the two are mutually exclusive. They cannot be integrated.

The Law Cannot be Moral, it Can Only Be Legal

Dictated good–that is, the establishment of “law” under the auspices (and given absolute efficacy and purpose by the State–centralized, consolidated violence) of Governing Authority (power) to subjective and abstract ends, like “common good”, or the “people’s mandate”–is not morality. It is legality. And the two are completely antipodal. For if the law, not the individual, is the standard of morality to which men may be forced then choice is irrelevant. And if choice is irrelevant, moral agency is irrelevant. And if moral agency is irrelevant then there is no morality.