This is Essay Twelve in the series Lighten the Load, a back-to-basics re-think of government. What should a government be and do? What should it definitely NOT be and do? Is it even necessary at all? If so, how much and why? How do we decide, against what criteria?
Laws, Codes and Customs
by Steve Cook
By long experience, human beings have discovered that certain actions and modes of conduct assist survival (good or wise actions) while others impede survival (bad or unwise actions).
That group experience has been codified into customs, moral codes and laws, whereby actions perceived and broadly agreed to be counter-survival either for the group or its good members are prohibited and penalized.
Moral codes and customs form a guide as to how we agree we should behave in our interrelations with the rest of the group and with the wider community of which the group is a part.
Drawn from group experience that stretches back over generations, such codes enable us to make decisions about our conduct, that such and such an act is right (pro-survival) and such and such an act is wrong (counter-survival).
The individual restrains himself from a certain act that he might have a notion to do because it violates the survival agreements expressed in such codes.
Ideally, moré and custom would be completely aligned to and based upon reason: the correct observation of what is and what is not good for survival, for the group and its members and the wider community of which they are a part. Their observance would result in a high level of survival for the group and its members and the wider community with which the group interacts.
A bad moré or custom or a bad law or some government action that violates good morés, customs and laws, will impede survival in some way. Such will restrain or obstruct the group’s ability to reach survival objectives by compelling or obliging group members to engage in actions that do not contribute to the survival objectives, or by proscribing actions which do so contribute.
That lowering of survival potential will be experienced by group members as some form of displeasure or increased sense of discomfort: for example a lowering of material standards of living, various dissatisfactions and disaffections, the sense that the social or material environment has become less safe, burdensome taxes, the erosion of civil rights, disincentives to honest endeavor and, of course, a climate of war.
The citizen may consider that such burdens upon his life are just a normal part of living. It may well be that at Man’s current state of knowledge there are limits as to how high survival can as yet be promoted. However, Man’s failure to identify, trace to source and eliminate the non-survival activities of the destructive minority, has caused him to under-achieve in this regard for so long that his expectations as to the level of survival that can be achieved are inordinately low.
Criminal groups, in that it is their activities that have caused the suppression of survival potential, have a vested interest in the rest of us seeing nothing odd or suspicious in incessant war, economic and political turmoil, high taxes, government ineptitude, lies, astronomical debt levels, repression and all the rest.
If we did, we might start asking awkward questions and challenging the insanities and injustices that are regularly foisted upon us.
Next in this series: Two Types of Law
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