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We are told we need the law. We need a million rules to ensure everyone has a fair shake,  a level playing field we rely on as we move through life. But if you are lesbian or gay, the majority have recently passed laws giving  people who prefer heterosexual coupling an advantage. The federal government has done nothing to come to this minority’s assistance. These laws are just the latest in a long litany of discriminatory laws.

We are told we need the law to define culture, to give the boundaries of permissible behavior. Yet, do you think you are aware of every law you live under? In every jurisdiction, outdated laws remain on the books. You are likely to have broken some of them without even knowing. In fact, most new endeavors begin with consultation of a lawyer. Legal professionals research for hours to ensure their clients won’t inadvertently break some little known law. Many of these laws unduly invade our private lives to restrict trivial actions, like putting a window in a wall of your home, so the state or some industry can make money.

We are told without the law, our society would crumble into brutish chaos. To me, the image of John Pike, dressed like an SS officer, strutting around a circle of passive students shaking a can of pepper spray, meant to be used at distance on an advancing crowd, is the image of brutish chaos.

Pepper Spray Police

Or perhaps those words conjure up the image of an octogenarian pepper sprayed in the eyes for speaking out against a government that coddles the rich and abuses the poor.

Or the Berkley students night-sticked in the bread basket to discourage peaceful assembly:

Yet, surely our teachers and parents are right. Surely we need the rule of law to guide society. We need some rules.

Or not.

Today we crawl outside one of our deepest and oldest mental boxes to consider the unthinkable—that changes in the law cannot cure society’s ills, because the law, itself,  is part of the problem. Today we take a walk on the wild side in a lawless society.

Is It the Way They were Raised?

You are dining in your favorite restaurant. Next to you, a chair scrapes the floor as a man pushes away from his plate. Abruptly, he stands and your skin prickles. You sense something is wrong, but can't put your finger on it. Without making a sound, the man's hands travel to his throat. He opens his mouth in a grotesque gasping movement, but still no sound squeaks past his lips. What do you do? What do you expect others in the restaurant to do? Will you summon more people, experts in emergency medical care?

Now, in your restaurant, the couple at the table next to you drop a generous tip on the table before sauntering away commenting on the excellent meal and the fine service. The waitperson's back is turned, taking an order from another table. A woman appears from nowhere. She snatches the money, making a bee-line for the exit. What do you do? What do you think others will do? Do you call experts in criminal behavior?

Be honest. Was there a moment of hesitation making your choice in the second story? Would you weigh the possibilities before you acted? Why? The waitperson needs your help, just like the choking man does, if somewhat less urgently. Still, the medical emergency seems reflexive, while the criminal emergency challenges your moral fiber, doesn't it?

shoplifter bagJohn Quinones of What Would You Do?   made a career of challenging strangers with just that sort of moral question--situations that pit our sense of justice against our desire to mind our own business. In most scenarios, only the minority overcome the security of their private world to come to another'€™s aid where an element of criminality exists. Exploitation of someone considered weaker, a child or a handicapped person, and medical emergencies seem to be the exception. Particularly with children, the reflexive urge to provide assistance still seems intact. Why this separation? What makes one a reflexive behavior, and the other require contemplation that fails to elicit assistance in most cases?

From an early age, we are taught to relinquish our responsibility for enforcement against criminal behavior to authority. Bully on the playground? Tell the teacher. Witness someone shoplifting? Whisper it to a security guard.

DSC00332 Shoplifters will be CompostedBut teachers are ill-equipped to stop bullying. I was in my local dollar store the other day, and my husband commented on a sign threatening to prosecute all shoplifters. The owner curtly informed my husband the store lost $40,000 of merchandise last year to shoplifters. Remember, nothing in the store is worth more than a dollar. That is a lot of theft.

Wouldn'€™t it be better if we taught children to gather together around a person who was being bullied? How would a bully behave if confronted with a unified playground shouting him/her down? What if you cried out when you saw the shoplifter and the people in the store reacted with reflexes as keen as those for a choking man?

The Enforcers: Tarnished Icons

Not only are we taught to relinquish responsibility for criminal behavior to authorities, we are taught to trust authority.  If you are lost or in trouble, a police officer is one person on a short list of people your parents allow you to speak to, even though he is a stranger. The uniform, alone, allows that person into a privileged class with teachers, doctors and religious leaders. We allow peace officers into our lives without question in an emergency, turning decisions over to them because they are the experts. G20 Riot Police 3

We have lost confidence in our ability to assist others in day to day justice. We feel as though we don'€™t have the skill or the authority to intervene. We aren'€™t all health care professionals, but somehow we jump to help in a medical emergency. In a criminal emergency, our sense of community and our confidence in ourselves has been undermined.

But endowing a person with authority doesn't guarantee they will use their power responsibly.

Of  late, I have come to question the role of law enforcement in our society. I have watched the police arrest thousands, whose crime is assembling for the purpose of political speech and redressing the government. I have watched them beat and pepper spray people who are peacefully sitting in protest.

These do not seem like the actions of someone I can trust. And I certainly don't want to call this person in an emergency.

The Law: A Little Less than Blind

Lady Justice revisitedWhen my husband discovered that shoulder length hair kept him warmer outside during Flagstaff's brutal winter, he also discovered he was suspected of criminal behavior for the first time in his life. It is unlikely that allowing his locks to grow caused him to have criminal thoughts.

Even when we all agree a law is a good law, such as those prohibiting murder, the enforcement of those laws is clearly unequal. The US imprisons more people per capita than any other nation. But you are much more likely to go to prison if your skin is darker, or you are economically disadvantaged. (See this link also.) Prisons are our largest and most costly social program. How can this be justice?

A petty thief steals a purse in an attempt to survive on the street, and gets life because it'€™s his third strike.  A huge corporation steals millions in tax dollars and gets a pass because corporate consultants lobby Congress to rewrite the law and make the theft legal. Another man commits armed robbery and shoots the person behind the register. The armed robber will get the death penalty. A corporation murders hundreds or thousands by dumping a toxin into the water supply and gets a slap on the wrist, a maximum fine mandated by law, calculated into the expense of doing business.

In our last Anti-Capitalist diary, GeminiJen discussed Citizens United. The Supreme Court ruled  campaign donation could not be restrained because that unfairly restricted the free speech of the rich.

At the same time, the not-so-rich attempt to make their voices heard over the din created by so much money in the politician’s coffers. Police arrested hundreds in New York during the Republican National Campaign in 2004. They roped off huge groups of people preparing to march, even arresting news reporters trying to cover the protest. The arrests were wholesale thrown out of court. Peaceful assembly for political speech and redress of government was still thought to be guaranteed by the Constitution at that time. Still, those arrests prevented people from exercising their First Amendment rights. They prevented unrest from showing up on your TV screen. Since then, preemptive arrests have become a tactic with every large protest in America. Now, just sitting in the wrong place with the wrong message can get you arrested, beaten and pepper sprayed.

It appears rules are only for the 99%. If there is no law preventing a behavior unapproved by the 1%, no bother, just get the police to enforced what the powerful want anyway. The police seem all too willing to cooperate with this mockery of our highest law, the Constitution.

That does not seem just to me, and probably not to you either.

Living a Lawless Life:

"That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole of the Torah. The rest is commentary."€--Rabbi Hillel
If tomorrow heroin were legal, would you start using? Me neither. And I do not normally consider whether something is against the law before I go through my day. For me, and most people, we already live a lawless life. The law and fear of the justice system is not what prevents me from harming others. My own sense of justice and the Golden Rule are sufficient. Most often, when I am prevented from doing something by law, it is not something most people think should be prevented--€”like adopting a dog without a collar from the street, or speaking out in public. (I've recently embarked on a life of crime by breaking both those laws.) The law prohibits me from taking positive actions and from being a good citizen more frequently than it prevents me from committing harm or destruction.

On the flip side, people who knowingly break the law are clearly not restrained by moral sensibility or the law. They may be restrained by the possibility of punishment but that does not stop them from breaking the law, only from doing it where they will be apprehended.

What if we gave up our fascination with rules?  What would that look like? Chaos? Wholesale destruction?

Probably not.

A world without law, would not necessarily be a world without justice. Peace officers could still exist in such a world, but they might be less likely to cruise around looking  for crime, and more likely to come when summoned. They would have discretion to detain a person, but only if harmful to themselves or others. For most instances, a bench warrant would be sufficient.

In a lawless system, a person could still accuse another of wrong doing. We don't actually need the law for that. Lawyers would still be necessary to aide the accuser and defendant in arguing their case before a jury. A judge would make sure the participants treated each other fairly.

In our current system, corporations look for ways to commit destructive acts under the law. They use the law as an aid for wrong-doing or pay to have the law changed to their advantage. A person harmed by a corporation has to navigate a mine field of law that has been orchestrated by the corporation to put the average person at a disadvantage.

In a lawless system, a person harmed by a corporation could still take the corporation to court. A system without laws or precedents would decide every case on its own merits. Instead of laws tying a jury'€™s hands and barring real justice, each case would be decided on its own merits. Corporations could face the cold wrath of twelve people who sympathize with a human over a corporate "person."€ A jury could fine based on the amount of injury, but also based on the defendant's wealth and hubris.

McDonald's Golden ArchesThat is what the jury did in the famous McDonald's coffee case that sparked so much controversy. That is, before a judge unilaterally decided otherwise.

Based on its finding that McDonald's had engaged in willful, reckless, malicious or wanton conduct, the jury then awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages; essential to the size of the award was the fact that at the time McDonald's made $1.35 million in coffee sales daily.[13]

Since the purposes of awarding punitive damages are to punish the person or company doing the wrongful act and to discourage him and others from similar conduct in the future, the degree of punishment or deterrence resulting from a judgment is in proportion to the wealth of the guilty person.[14]Punitive damages are supposed to be large enough to send a message to the wrongdoer; limited punitive awards when applied to wealthy corporations, means the signal they are designed to send will not be heard. The trial court refused to grant McDonald'€™s a retrial, finding that its behavior was “callous.” The judge, however, announced in open court a few days after the trial that he would reduce the punitive damages award to $480,000.[15]Both sides appealed the decision.--Utah Justice Law

In a lawless society, companies would not be able to squirm around the intent of the law with fancy foot work. They would, instead, have to consider "€œWhat would you do?"€ if you were on the jury. They would have to behave as though twelve average citizens were looking over their shoulder all the time. In other words, they would have to conduct themselves by the Golden Rule.

Think that is too complicated and uncertain? I would point out this system has already been tested. My profession operates under just such a rule. As a physician, I can be sued or my license revoked if I fail to "practice the standard of care." The "standard of care" is what a reasonable physician in my specialty would do in a similar circumstance. It is the Golden Rule of medicine. In essence, I have the "average physician" looking over my shoulder all the time. This vague edict forces me to keep my skills current and makes me a better doctor, even a 3 am when I don't really want to be a good doctor.

A lawless system would not stop at the courtroom, though.

We would have to be trained from a young age that the care of justice belongs to us all. We are all responsible for keeping our community safe.

When the thief takes the tip from the table, what if you jumped from your seat without even thinking and yelled, "Hey that person just took money that did not belong to them!" What if every person dining in the room rose to action on reflex? What if people blocked the door while others called for peace officers to issue a warrant for the thief to appear in a court?

Don'€™t think people can spontaneously act together to restrain a powerful criminal? Or maybe you think people would take on a vigilantly mindset and escalate the violence. What if I showed you actual footage of people behaving just as I have described, orderly and with restraint to enforce justice and not the law.

Most of us have seen the encounter between the police and the students of UC Davis, California. Officer Pike pepper sprays the faces of students peacefully assembled in political free speech.

But that is the only part of the film most people have seen. Pike's behavior causes on-lookers to gather with the original Occupiers. The people make a mass decision that justice is not being served, even if the law allows such behavior by the police. The crowd spontaneously organizes and peacefully restrains and banishes the police. The community conquers the aggressor.

If a would be criminal had to worry about every set of eyes, not just a few brave souls or the eyes belonging to an authority, then would the crime be worth the risk? Would a criminal be so brazen, if he had to face twelve citizens who measured his actions by their own actions and their own work in society? Would a corporation be so brazen if they had to face twelve average people unlimited in their ability to punish?

The thief from your restaurant might be offered a choice by her warrant. She could accept the ruling of a judge or face a jury of twelve with unlimited powers. What would you decide, if you were on such a jury?

Twelve people could also have unlimited compassion. What if the thief was a mother who could not feed her child? What if the jury could require something of it's community, like aid for the mother? What if justice demanded a positive community act instead of a negative one? If we didn't house so many people in jail for laws many of us don'€™t wish to enforce, couldn'€™t we afford a more constructive social program for the poor? Could our current legal system behave is such a positive fashion?

It is high time we asked ourselves if the law has ceased to be be our servant and become our master. Has the law become an instrument of oppression wielded by the 1%? If so, perhaps it is time we simple give up our reliance on the law and move forward to a more enlightened and community involved approach.

Some Random Updates:

We recently started to reach beyond The Daily Kos. You can read reprints of our posts on several sites and we would entertain suggestions for more sites if you had any.

Check us out on:
The Stars Hollow Gazette

Docudharma

My Fire Dog Lake

We are also now on Facebook and Twitter.

Join our group at Facebook and get notifications from us about posts and other important news and events.

Personal Updates:

The situation I discussed in my last post has gotten worse. The Catholic Church has gone so far as to rewritte the bylaws at my hospital to exclude sterilization for any medical or psychological reason. However, the editor of a local newspaper, The North Coast Journal, saw my story and is reprinting a version of it.

The charges against me for reciting the Constitution to a TSA officer were dropped. Apparently, it is still not illegal to quote the Constitution. Undaunted by minor things like what is legal or not legal, the TSA still charged me a $500 fine. They already live in a lawless society. Major corporate media outlets were offered the story but did not bother to contact me. The story was read on a conservative radio show TRX Radio. The editor of The North Coast Journal also liked the TSA stories (Here and Here) and she is helping me rewrite the post for the local publication.

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I sincerely hope you one day have the opportunity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    misslegalbeagle, mjfgates

    to live in a lawless society.  Just not the one I live in.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:22:26 PM PDT

    •  Perhaps you would like to elaborate with a well... (8+ / 0-)

      reasoned and supported argument.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:33:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's been done. You could start with classical (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, Neuroptimalian

        sources or with Leviathan to save time, and work your way up to Rawls and his critics.

        Let me restate the original point.  I sure as shit hope I am never condemned to live in a lawless environment.

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:00:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you are forced to go to Hobbes justification (9+ / 0-)

          for the state to put forward your argument then your perspective of human nature is trapped in an artificial fabrication of someone whose purpose was to justify a strong state to contain human nature and protect property. Bentham's perspective was similar in terms of the rule of law. However, there has always been other currents in political philosophy that view society as consensual and human nature essentially benign. Hoping that Hobbes, Bentham and Rawls are not your last names in this discussion.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:14:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, btw, I view my own nature as essentially (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            k9disc, ParkRanger

            benign, and I trust yours is as well.  I have however encountered a few people who have not impressed me in this way, and I understand from other sources I deem trustworthy that there are reasons to doubt the wisdom of such an optimistic view.

            I hope you're not a blank-slater?

            Where are we, now that we need us most?

            by Frank Knarf on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:11:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really need to bone up on philosophy... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NY brit expat, Bob Guyer

              I feel you though. How can Leviathan not be the case when sociopaths always win.

              That's the piece of philosophy that we need to come up with. How do we not let the sociopaths lead. Probably an extinction scale problem as a species...

              But, man I really need to get with the program on classical and historic philosophy...

              Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

              by k9disc on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 03:11:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I share your thoughts... (0+ / 0-)

                on sociopaths and philosophy!!!


                I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

                by The Angry Architect on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:11:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  you can unrec... (0+ / 0-)

                  If you accidently reccomend someone, just press the same button again and it will unrec that person as if nothing ever happened.

                  "We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

                  by Mudderway on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 04:01:24 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Organization! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joe wobblie

                That's how we stop the sociopaths!

                •  Organization? Sounds like... laws are required (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  WB Reeves

                  And I will state for the record, social anarchist I may be, but the rule of law is required for society to function. "Just winging it" and "hoping everyone has the same ideas about right and wrong" do not work. Leaving laws vaguely defined as "don't hurt other people" sounds good, until the day comes when you have to try to prove a sociopath harmed you. Then you discover that, without written rules and a history of case law, a sociopath will not find it any harder to manipulate a jury than they would a legislature.

                  In short, doing away with the rule of law only makes the problem worse. I am always suspicious of plans that look at the current state of things and say "Well the problem is that the rules are too complicated, simplify the rules and the simple man will have a level playing field." The rules are complex because the world is complex, and by trying to simplify things, you are simply ignoring the hard earned wisdom of your ancestors, who put those complex rules into place because circumstance dictated they were necessary, usually because some sociopath had found a loop hole in the previous rules.

                  Doing away with rules does not do away with loopholes. With no rules, it's all a loophole.

                  •  What a mishmosh (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    joe wobblie

                    No laws exist, but juries do?  What the fuck are you even saying?  Who said the words "Just winging it", "hoping everyone has the same ideas about right and wrong", and "don't hurt other people", which you quote as if they came from someone's mouth?

                    I literally can't respond to this.  Read my post toward the end of the thread if you want to know what I ACTUALLY think, instead of your imagining of it.

                    •  Eh? Say what now? (0+ / 0-)

                      I was AGREEING with you, or so I thought. Perhaps that clears up some of the misunderstanding?

                      •  Now I'm just more confused (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        joe wobblie

                        but sorry for being rude about it

                        •  Eh, s'what happens when I jump about a thread. (0+ / 0-)

                          When someone makes multiple comments and I want to add something to what they've said, most of the time I'll try to respond in one place, as high up the thread as I can. I feel it's better to try to put all related comments and supporting comments in one subthread.

                          As for "no laws, but juries" well, isn't that basically what they diarist is suggesting? I think it's a bad idea. To me, this whole idea smells of college libertarianism.

                          •  Yeah "no laws, but juries" makes no sense (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie

                            The idea of an arbitrary and uniform number of people who make such a decision is divorced from principles.  Either there's a law code and a legal bureaucracy or it's a free-for-all (which I favor, of course).

                          •  Yer in favor of a free for all? (0+ / 0-)

                            No rule of law, no courts, everyone is responsible for procuring his own justice sort of thing?

                          •  Community justice (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie

                            with self-defense being the top priority. Make it practically impossible for anyone to prey on the weak by arming the weak.  Eliminate the corrupt legal and political system, mainly the police, so communities are allowed to control their own space and people their own lives.  Build an economy based on humanity and solidarity instead of greed, by eliminating taxes and the concept of property title, so people are free to eliminate poverty and desperation.  When people are allowed to be human again, they'll act like it.  Not without organization- neighborhood assemblies and collectives are the general idea- but without dictatorial authority. That's what Anarchy means to me.

                          •  So, lynching then (0+ / 0-)

                            Gotcha. Not gonna work. Laws need to be written down. Consequences must be concrete. Eliminating the system is what the hierarchy wants. You have to remember why we formed governments in the first place: to protect ourselves from tyrants. What we need is a system they can't co-opt. I mean, a bunch of armed residents won't stop air pollution. They won't stop a company from manufacturing dangerous products. What would they do, get their guns and march on the factory? Yeah, owners can hire thugs, too.

                            Anarchy means "no dictators." Archons were dicators, an-archy means no Archons. If you have neighborhood assemblies that are democratic or consensus based, then any rules or laws they agree on will not be dictatorial. But they still must be written down!

                            I've studied the history of socialist, communist and anarchist collectives and one thing stands out: those without a written system of rules, with consequences written down and carried out in an impartial fashion when necessary, fail. A society without standard, agreed upon laws soon fails.

                            Ever been to a Rainbow Gathering? Anarchy in action. Real anarchy. At a Rainbow Gathering, everyone is a Shanti Sena, or peacekeeper. Everyone is responsible, yeah, but there are also pros. They do it every year. They spend their whole time doing it. They are good at it.

                            I mean, if you come to Rainbow, go off your meds, and decide jerking it in a sister's hair at main circle is cool thing, you WILL get duck taped into a sleeping bag and dropped off at the local hospital with a "help, I'm a crazy person who won't take my meds" note taped to your shirt. Could the average Rainbow hippie pull that off without injuring himself or the crazy dude? Not likely.

                            Look, most people really, really do not want to have to be in that line of work. We need a professional police and court system. We just need it controlled by and for we, the people, democratically and fairly.

                            What would you replace property title with? Use rights? Democratic control? Of what, the means of production? Houses? CLOTHES? We all get to vote on what you wear?

                            A little snark, yeah, but I've been thinking about this stuff for thirty years and there are no easy answers, man. Still, I'm always interested in what REAL anarchists have to say. Libertarians can take a long walk off a short pier.

                          •  Technically, (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie, SethRightmer

                            Lynching is apparently defined as 'removal of a person from police custody'- obviously impossible if police don't exist.  Yes, I know what you really meant.

                            Gotcha. Not gonna work. Laws need to be written down. Consequences must be concrete.
                            There is a difference between 'laws' in that sense and "The Law" as I think it's more generally used.  I mean, I'm pro-policy.  Yes, things should be written down, if that's what people want, just to be absolutely clear.  But, along a similar line, I keep on having this argument with anti-State capitalists and market anarchists over what a contract is- right-wing libertarians envision privatized courts; anarcho-communists see agreements/policies/'laws' as being more of general understandings; market anarchists are pro-contract but I think they mean it just in the sense of writing down those general agreements.  

                            What is at stake in the argument is consequences and punishment.  Right-wing libertarians are pro-punishment: Forced compensation and sometimes they're even for abduction and enslavement (jail).  Anarcho-communists and, apparently, market anarchists see the consequences as being more like trust being terminated, gifts or reciprocal trades being ended, etc- but nothing the 'criminal' possesses being taken away or them being physically held.

                            Eliminating the system is what the hierarchy wants. You have to remember why we formed governments in the first place: to protect ourselves from tyrants.
                            are you joking
                            What we need is a system they can't co-opt. I mean, a bunch of armed residents won't stop air pollution. They won't stop a company from manufacturing dangerous products. What would they do, get their guns and march on the factory? Yeah, owners can hire thugs, too.
                            Sure they can.  That's why the ownership class should be eliminated (not killed; I mean that the CLASS should be eliminated).  When everything is owned on a communal basis and/or as part of collectives that have a purpose other than to make money, people are more compassionate.
                            Anarchy means "no dictators." Archons were dicators, an-archy means no Archons. If you have neighborhood assemblies that are democratic or consensus based, then any rules or laws they agree on will not be dictatorial. But they still must be written down!
                            If you like.  But even then the people who consented on them can contradict them at will, regardless of what it says on some damn piece of paper.  If a person contradicts the "law" and everyone's OK with it, then maybe the "law" could be updated, or maybe thrown away; who cares?

                            But if a person contradicts a "law" and everyone's NOT okay with it, then they may face expulsion or ostracism if reconciliation fails or is impossible.  Still, this is more a matter of knowing your neighbors rather than claiming that words on paper have magical powers, and that's how it should be.

                            I like the story of the "Thing" system the Vikings supposedly had, in which laws weren't written down; at an annual meeting, one person (which would change every year) would recite the laws.  The way to repeal laws was by just not saying it.  If no one calls you on it, it's gone.

                            I've studied the history of socialist, communist and anarchist collectives and one thing stands out: those without a written system of rules, with consequences written down and carried out in an impartial fashion when necessary, fail. A society without standard, agreed upon laws soon fails.
                            But if a society is not in good working order, all the laws in the world are useless.  Simply writing things down does not create virtuous citizens.
                            Ever been to a Rainbow Gathering? Anarchy in action. Real anarchy.
                            Agreed.
                            Look, most people really, really do not want to have to be in that line of work. We need a professional police and court system. We just need it controlled by and for we, the people, democratically and fairly.
                            I'm not saying everyone HAS to be involved in community defense.  I mean, it's not like you're going to have infants or octogenarians on patrol with machine guns or whatever.  Martial arts (including hand-to-hand combat and firearms) should probably be more widely taught than they are now, in any case.  But anyway how a community handles its own defense against disgruntled individuals is its own business, which probably means not everyone is directly involved and may even (and probably should) mean relying on other communities for assistance.  Certainly, communities should be organized to resist tyrants and potential tyrants, probably through a system of federations.  But, for something as important as security, community members should have direct control, as opposed to having to go through representatives and professionals as is the case today.
                            What would you replace property title with? Use rights? Democratic control? Of what, the means of production? Houses? CLOTHES? We all get to vote on what you wear?
                            Consent, which works differently from democracy.  In a Consent system, only those who are actually affected by a decision have standing.  Therefore nobody can justly force you to wear certain clothes, for example, unless someone can come up with a good argument why it's disruptive to the community (which is possible!).  
                            Without going too much more into it right now, those who work should make the decisions about their work conditions, products, and distribution, with the input of their suppliers and those who they are giving to, through industrial federations.  Like what the CNT did during the early part of the Spanish Civil War, although even then it was in a limited and incomplete form.  Then if suppliers don't like where their product is going (for whatever reason), they can simply cease to give to them; if a consumer doesn't like what they're getting, they can reject it.  The glue that holds it together is community and trust, which has to be built.
                            A little snark, yeah, but I've been thinking about this stuff for thirty years and there are no easy answers, man. Still, I'm always interested in what REAL anarchists have to say. Libertarians can take a long walk off a short pier.
                            Agreed.
                          •  Great stuff, Jay (0+ / 0-)

                            First let me say that "written down" is my way of saying "codified." So the Things count, the laws may not be written, but they are codified. People can all agree what the laws actually are. This is fairly important.

                            Contracts are agreements between two individuals, usually enforced by the community at large. They involve an exchange of some sort, without a reciprocal exchange, it isn't really a contract. There are generally agreed upon penalties for breaking contracts. To me, they form the basis of human society. We're a part of society because we've agreed to be part of it, and to pay the agreed upon cost.

                            While I agree that the most ethical course of action in regards to criminals is withdrawal of rewards, there is a larger problem. If the criminal is violent or has a proven track record of harming others, simply shunning them makes them someone else's problem. Ever read Iain Banks "Culture" series? I like their solution, the slap-bot. It's a very powerful, very small drone that follows the criminal everywhere, warning people they come into contact with, and stopping any violence through direct intervention. Ah, the things you can do in a post scarcity society...

                            I'm not joking, people band together for mutual defense from tyranny. Not the only reason, of course, cooperation increases human freedom. But an important one. A system of governance increases an individual's ability to resist tyranny, on their own many do not have that power.

                            The problem with ideas like "doing away with ownership" is that they must be undertaken by everyone to be effective. You can say, "no more ownership" but if the rest of the world does not follow your example, you will still be facing a powerful owning class. If doing away with ownership is your answer to the power imbalance ownership creates, well, your plan is missing a few crucial steps.

                            Any time you say "community members should have direct control" you will get no disagreement from me. Ever hear of Project Cybersyn? It was Allende's experiment in direct democratic control of the means of production. Too bad we helped topple him right after the pilot program went live. Coincidence?

                            The problem with consent based systems is one of externalities and proving that one is affected by the externalities others create. We live in a highly interconnected world, and in some sense, your choice of fashion does impact me. What if you are wearing clothes that took vast quantities of resources to create, or that created a ton of pollution in their manufacture? In your system, each problem would be resolved on an individual basis.

                            Without clear cut guidelines, things would rapidly become unfair, for example, an attractive and influential person might be permitted to continue to purchase said clothes and contribute to pollution, while the unattractive and less social person the community has decided to place in the "scapegoat" role takes all the blame.

                            People have an innate sense of fairness and reciprocity but without clear cut guidelines this sense can be lead astray very easily.

                            I agree that those who are affected should be the ones who make decisions, but the devil is, as always, in the details. How do you determine who is affected? Who has that authority? What about issues that affect multiple communities?

                          •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie
                            We're a part of society because we've agreed to be part of it, and to pay the agreed upon cost.
                            "Society" to me comes from "social" which just means interactions between people.  Society is the system of interaction between people.  The only way to not be part of society is to be a hermit.  There is no choice in the matter, so there can't justly be any forced obligations.
                            If the criminal is violent or has a proven track record of harming others, simply shunning them makes them someone else's problem.
                            Sure.  That's why communities should be federated and communicate.  An important activity of anarchist groups today is to warn each other about abusive or dangerous individuals (although I wouldn't say it's a "major" activity since it's not terribly time-consuming).
                            Ever read Iain Banks "Culture" series? I like their solution, the slap-bot. It's a very powerful, very small drone that follows the criminal everywhere, warning people they come into contact with, and stopping any violence through direct intervention. Ah, the things you can do in a post scarcity society...
                            Sounds good.  So far it's just  been done through warning other groups, but there's no hard proof that's sufficient.  But anyway every group or community should initially assume that unknown individuals are not trustworthy, and take precautions until they become known or proven.
                            I'm not joking, people band together for mutual defense from tyranny. Not the only reason, of course, cooperation increases human freedom. But an important one. A system of governance increases an individual's ability to resist tyranny, on their own many do not have that power.
                            Cooperation and "government" are not the same thing.
                            The problem with ideas like "doing away with ownership" is that they must be undertaken by everyone to be effective. You can say, "no more ownership" but if the rest of the world does not follow your example, you will still be facing a powerful owning class. If doing away with ownership is your answer to the power imbalance ownership creates, well, your plan is missing a few crucial steps.
                            Of course, that's the end goal (although it can also be implemented prefiguratively to some extent).  Obviously there's a lot of work to do to get there.  Also, the problem is not "ownership" but title, extractive ownership, ownership for profit, absentee ownership, exclusive (in the sense of not including everyone it should) ownership (I may have misstated).
                            The problem with consent based systems is one of externalities and proving that one is affected by the externalities others create. We live in a highly interconnected world, and in some sense, your choice of fashion does impact me. What if you are wearing clothes that took vast quantities of resources to create, or that created a ton of pollution in their manufacture.
                            Then the problem obviously isn't the clothes themselves but the manufacturing process.
                            In your system, each problem would be resolved on an individual basis.

                            Without clear cut guidelines, things would rapidly become unfair

                            Things can rapidly become unfair even with clear-cut guidelines, if the community has become so dysfunctional that law writing, interpretation, communication, and enforcement are broken.  What a law actually states is hardly relevant.
                            for example, an attractive and influential person might be permitted to continue to purchase said clothes and contribute to pollution, while the unattractive and less social person the community has decided to place in the "scapegoat" role takes all the blame.
                            Why would a person want to live in a community that is dysfunctional or that hates them?

                            Also,

                            purchase
                            ...still the wrong way to think of it.
                            People have an innate sense of fairness and reciprocity but without clear cut guidelines this sense can be lead astray very easily.
                            Words on paper are worthless.  What matters is how empowered and organized people are.
                            I agree that those who are affected should be the ones who make decisions, but the devil is, as always, in the details. How do you determine who is affected?
                            People seem to do a good job of recognizing this innately.
                            Who has that authority?
                            No one.  Everyone.  It's no different than it is today; it simply appears to be otherwise because the State does a good job convincing people that it's an invincible monolith.
                            What about issues that affect multiple communities?
                            Each community should be involved, probably through a delegate system.
                          •  You've made me think. Not many do that. (0+ / 0-)

                            Why have I become less of a pure anarchist as I've grown older? Have I simply become more cynical? Seen people fuck things up too many times to trust the bastards with that much power anymore? Perhaps.

                            Anarchy is not mere ochlocracy or majoritarianism. Being against hierarchy, anarchists would have to be against the idea that mere numbers make right. But therein lies the problem, if mere numbers do not make right, what does? What is the difference between anarchy and ochlocracy?

                            Rules. Plain and simple, anarchists abide by a set of rules. Call them Natural Rights, regulations, laws, agreements, what have you, they are all the same thing. You have an idea that everyone in a society agrees to. The idea has certain characteristics: it involves a trade, and there are penalties for breaking the agreement.

                            The trade is always, I will defend your rights if you defend mine. The penalties can be anything. As an anarchist, you would say the penalties can't take from the penalized person. Can you take their freedom from them? Can you deprive them of their rights? "Property" is actually nothing more than a bundle of rights. And rights are laws are agreements. They only work when people agree to them. Crow about your rights without a posse to back you up? You got nothing.

                            But when you have a group to defend the rights the group has agreed on, and the rules apply to everyone in the group, well, that is called "the rule of law." Very old concept, goes back to some fellow named Hammurabi, well thought of in general throughout long stretches of world history. Surprised I'm having to defend the concept, even to an anarchist. ;)

                            So, pardon my asking, but how is your proposed system different from libertarianism? And you mention communities being involved in larger issues through delegates. How is that different from our democratic republic? I mean, leaving out the obvious fact that our democratic republic has been co-opted by bandits and thugs.

                            Where you and I absolutely agree (much of the rest is actually philosophical hair splitting IMHO) is on property. Proudhon much? And let me ask you this, what is it with libertarians anyway? Why did they decide to stop calling themselves anarchists? There's only like a billion anarcho-hyphensomethings out there, they couldn't pick one? "Anarcho-capitalist" simply too honest for them?

                            Anyway let me just say in closing, thank you for sharing your time and brainpower with me. You should know this about me, though I sound certain sometimes, when I put something out there in a conversation, it should really all come prefaced with "what do you think about this idea?" because that's how I mean it. I'm not nearly as attached to my ideas as I come across, I think, I just get frustrated with dumb people who don't know they are dumb.

                            I'm an old school Cynic at heart, and as such, I'm trying really hard not to be a cynic as it has come to mean in common modern terms. It helps when I meet other people who really want a future without hierarchy and exploitation, and have given the whole thing some thought. :)

                          •  keeping it short to close- (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie
                            What is the difference between anarchy and ochlocracy?
                            In Anarchy there is no "general population" but rather a very large number of small groups.  There is no "mass" (and therefore the phrase 'anarchist mass movement' is an oxymoron).
                            The trade is always, I will defend your rights if you defend mine.
                            I think of it more as a gift than a trade.  The strong contribute more than the weak.  A reason for this, and I'm still hammering out the details, is that a gift dignifies the giver; people WANT to give to enhance their own self-esteem, self-actualization, and prestige.
                            So, pardon my asking, but how is your proposed system different from libertarianism?
                            Libertarianism is purely individualistic- everyone for themselves.  Anarchism calls for organization.
                            And you mention communities being involved in larger issues through delegates. How is that different from our democratic republic?
                            A democratic republic is an elected dictatorship through representatives.  There is no freedom to leave or to not contribute.  The majority can force the minority to take action it may disagree with.  Representatives make decisions for a group; delegates report decisions by a group.
                            In any case, the idea that 50%+1 is a legitimate way of making decisions is a complete travesty because it tramples over the reasons for disagreement of the minority- even if a 66% or 80% or even 100%-1 majority was required, if the minority disagrees, they either have reasons that should be heard, or they don't have good reasons and are either unclear on the concept (in which case it should be explained to them, or they should not be worked with at all if they resist learning and improving) or they are jerks or saboteurs (in which case they obviously should not be worked with- I find it funny in an absurd sense how the Democrats here on DK are certain the Republicans are trying to sabotage the economy, yet still admit them into the government...).
                            And let me ask you this, what is it with libertarians anyway?
                            Mostly they're privileged white men who want everything that interferes with the full exercise of their privilege to go away.  They want it to be 'every man for himself' because they have unfair advantages that would allow them to dominate.
                            Why did they decide to stop calling themselves anarchists?
                            "Libertarian" originally was synonymous with "Anarchist".  The word was taken away from us by (iirc) Milton Friedman in the 1950s (when we were extremely weak and they were ascendant) in order to refer to their brand of 'stateless' capitalism.
                            There's only like a billion anarcho-hyphensomethings out there, they couldn't pick one? "Anarcho-capitalist" simply too honest for them?
                            There are some that do.  Most Libertarians are "minarchists" meaning very small government, basically just to protect the only thing privileged white men care about: Private property.  Some Libertarians are completely against government but pro-capitalism, and refer to themselves as "Anarcho-Capitalists".  All of the actual Anarchists despise them and refuse to call them Anarcho-anything, so hopefully the term will die off.  They've been trying to take "Anarchist" from us ever since they took "Libertarian".
                            The main Anarchist critique of stateless capitalism is that if people still have to work for pay from an owner, there is not true freedom, because you are still under someone else's control.  Personally, I think a stronger argument is that stateless capitalism is an oxymoron: Property title is fundamental to capitalism, because that's how ownership is transferred (which is obviously necessary to capitalism).  But there has to be a single, central, monopolistic way of keeping track of property title, or else there will be conflicting claims and no way to resolve it.  "Anarcho-Capitalists" propose a free-market system of "Dispute Resolution Organizations" which are basically courts with their own police forces; theoretically, people with conflicting claims to a piece of property would hire a DRO and it would make a ruling, then use its 'police' to enforce it.  Finding the many reasons why this is crazy stupid is left as an exercise for the reader.
                          •  Even shorter response (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie

                            We are basically on the same page and that makes me happy. Especially regarding libertarians and why anarchists despise them, every smart anarchist I've talked to tells the exact same story. Libertarians were honest to drop the "anarchist" moniker, because they are not against hierarchy. They want a hierarchy, they just want a privatized one.

                            Now, as always, the real question for anarchists is: how do we get there from here? People aren't perfect. It is senseless to wave one's hands and say "anarchy will work once we have perfect people living in a perfect society. We just need to educate and empower them!" I mean, Buddha set out to liberate all people 2800 years ago, and his followers are still working on the project, and trying to liberate individuals is all they do.

                            Are people perfected yet? No. This whole thing is going to take a while.

                          •  Prefiguration (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie, SethRightmer

                            "Build the new world in the shell of the old".  Make TAZs that grow and become more resilient.  Find the cracks and pry them open.  Organize in ways that make make capitalism and the State irrelevant and that work for people.  It's a dual power strategy, with the new power being a society rather than a government.

    •  I currently live in a lawless society (7+ / 0-)

      No really. This isn't snark.

      I'm in the Peace Corps. In a little mountain town near the border of Haiti as I type this.
        There are three cops in this town of 7,000. The cops have one motorcycle. You literally never see cops in the streets. There is no law enforcement to speak of.

        And do you know what? I'm safer here than almost any place in the States.
         Why? Because neighbors know each other. There is an actual community here.
        When people walk down the street they saludo each other. When people want to be entertained, instead of watching TV (and being told that you should be afraid of everyone), they visit their neighbors.

        In a town without law enforcement people are living without fear.
         Sure there are lots of problems here. It's nowhere near perfect by any means (frequent lack of electricity and running water, extreme levels of poverty, just a few examples) .
         But the fact is that having police everywhere doesn't make you safer. Having a community makes you safer.

        It's a fact that is hidden from Americans because fear is a great control mechanism.

      Callate o despertaras la izquirda! - protest sign in Spain

      by gjohnsit on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 05:50:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Read the article again: We already do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      Sure, you and I have to obey the law...

  •  Great Diary. I believe MLK Jr said summed it up (13+ / 0-)

    best with these two quotes (two of my personal favorites).

    One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/...
    And,
    Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/...
  •  Tangential (13+ / 0-)

    One of the things my dad taught me was that law enforcement  and peace officers were two distinct sets of people. He also distinguished between laws meant to promote a stable society and those meant to privilege certain segments of society. Your diary shows that the authoritarian use of laws can cause antipathy to all laws when they become unfair and arbitrarily enforced.
    Rules are necessary in complicated societies where "common sense" differs from one demographic to the next. Rules which allow one demographic advantage over another are not only unnecessary but counterproductive.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:35:33 PM PDT

    •  But do we have a society where people differ in... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidW, NY brit expat, cynndara, ichibon

      "common sense" enough that you could not assume what 12 random people would decide about your behavior but where the law makes it clear and the people in the minority are very aware of that law?  Can you think of one example where two cultural norms exist in this society and one group's behavior is bound by the law where it might not be bound by the cultural norms of the overarching society?

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:57:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Chickens (5+ / 0-)

        in the back yard, the size of the yard being one useable metric.
        In fact I can think of any number of instances in which different people, let alone different demographics, have very different ideas on animal welfare. That sort of thing has to be negotiated, voted on, and then adhered to.

        "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

        by northsylvania on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 12:58:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hah... I was thinking that by your metric that you (0+ / 0-)

          would have vastly different ideas of what lawful entails...

          1 chicken per square foot has an entirely different concept of privacy than 1 chicken per 500 sq ft...

          Nice little curveball there...

          Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

          by k9disc on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 03:13:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes! (1+ / 0-)

      And per the Diarist's comment:

      In our current system, corporations look for ways to commit destructive acts under the law. They use the law as an aid for wrong-doing or pay to have the law changed to their advantage. A person harmed by a corporation has to navigate a mine field of law that has been orchestrated by the corporation to put the average person at a disadvantage.
      (Emphasis added.)

      Corporate influence on the rule of law to the detriment of Common Citizens may include the following (to name a few):

      Creating permissions to exploit, pillage, and despoil The Commons.

      Creating barriers to redress of Corporate crimes.
      (Via laws as cited in the Diary, or by more subtle and insidious acts of "regulatory capture" by which enforcement and industry become intertwined.

      Creating barriers to competition by enabling laws which impact smaller business disproportionately due to a cost of compliance representing a higher percentage of revenue in comparison to a large corporation.


      I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

      by The Angry Architect on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:25:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great thoughtful piece ... (8+ / 0-)

    who does the law serve indeed? In many senses, the role of the law and how it relates to society was initially discussed wrt how human nature was viewed essentially. If society was meant to constrain human nature a la Hobbes or Bentham as human beings were seen to be inherently bad then the law was seen as reinforcing. If human beings were seen as essentially benign, then the law doesn't reinforce human nature but instead imposes the strictures of the powerful upon humanity and those protect the wealthy and powerful, while claiming to apply equally to the poor, weak and those facing persistent and historical discrimination (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia). We know that protection of property rather than protection of humanity seems to be predominant in many senses. I think that distinguishing law from justice is essential ... we know that justice is not necessarily provided by the law as we have seen that the poorest, the marginalised, the discriminated do not have the same access to either the law or justice as the wealthy or the powerful in a society.  When the law is used to suppress people's rights, it is evident whom the law serves.

    What does that mean for laws and whether we need them imposed or grown organically within the society? That is another question, distinguishing society's rules versus the law. Thanks for this thought provoking piece, appreciated, TPau.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:40:18 PM PDT

    •  I think you hit the nail on the head.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidW, NY brit expat, FG, ichibon

      This is predominately the age old argument about original sin. If humans are sinful by nature, then the law is necessary. If we are good by nature and only turn to evil due to cultural pressure than the law is part of that cultural pressure. Enforcement of culture should predominantly come from the community and not an outside force. This is the crux of the argument.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:01:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed, we hold a distinctly different perspective (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau, Justina, ichibon

        to that of Hobbes which has been used to justify strong states to protect property and contain human nature. That is the crux of the matter. I really enjoyed your real and actual placement of the discussion TPau.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:15:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  What about capitalism & modes of production? (6+ / 0-)

        I'm having trouble understanding some things here. It seems to me that the term law is used a bit too loosely in the essay. Is the law the normative rules promulgated by the State, or is it the totality of outcomes produced by the State created system of courts, or is it the dominant set of social rules governing conduct, regardless of the source?

        More to the point, the law cannot be meaningfully discussed in such a trans-historical manner. "Law" in the World of Antiquity differs from "Law" under feudalism or under capitalism not only in the details of the rules it prescribes, but more importantly in the roles it plays in those social formations. In feudalism, e.g., law is not nearly as important as it is under capitalist production, because in the former productive relations were largely mediated via personal interactions and prescribed status relations, while in the latter legal rules play the dominant role in defining many, perhaps most, social relations, including of course those of production.

        So, I can't answer the answer the question about wanting to live in a lawless society, because the question doesn't tell me what kind of material social formation we are discussing. Lawlessness under capitalism- a system of production that heightens inequality and encourages selfish behavior - is disastrous - see, e.g., Somalia, a truly lawless society. In that limited sense, Hobbes had an important point; one simply needs read him as discussing what many human beings become like under capitalist social relations to see the need for law.

        Lawlessness in a social formation of relatively equal small producers, on the other hand, might well be quite idyllic.

        "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who then was a gentleman?" Fr. John Ball (1381)

        by Le Gauchiste on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:49:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree... (5+ / 0-)

          For one thing, I think the essay is pretty clear that I am discussing the present and the law as it is understood as a system of written rules, enforcement, courts and punishments.

          I also think the essay is fairly clear what type of lawlessness I am advancing as an idea--not the sort Somalia has. Although that image is always brought up by someone when discussing lawlessness. Thanks for getting that out of the way for us.

          On the question of capitalism, I think it is exactly large monopolistic producers, the winners of capitalism, who have abused the law to their advantage and tilted it against the majority of us. I think it is exactly capitalism that uses the law as a means to create greater inequity and a lawless society might be better equipped to handle these monopolies and create a more balanced society.

          When these companies are accused of wrong doing, they hide behind laws they helped to create, essentially disabling the justice system. A lawless society would not be so disabled.

          De air is de air. What can be done?

          by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:00:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But can one choose? (5+ / 0-)

            I don't understand what it means for there to be different types of lawlessness. Either the state enforces rules with force or it does not. If it does not, then we're discussing a lawless society.

            But in such a society, rules still must exist and must be enforced. Statements that the "community" will set and enforce such rules are facile and disingenuous. What community? My local town? Yours? There are plenty of "communities" in the metro area where I live that are lily-white and rich; if left to their own lawless devices, they would create and enforce community norms that you and I wouldn't like. And the only reason they don't is that federal civil rights laws, etc., prevent them from doing so.

            Finally, this statement: "capitalism ... uses the law as a means to create greater inequity and a lawless society might be better equipped to handle these monopolies and create a more balanced society." This makes no sense to me. At all. Capitalism is a system for producing property and wealth; capitalists, on the other hand, do use the law just as you say, but, so too do workers use the law to advance their interests, though they are much less successful at it. The law is better seen as a terrain of social struggle. Besides, without the law, the capitalists would simply use their money to build private armies and crush their opponents. To some extent, of course, they already do this, but they are constrained by ... the Law.

            Just getting rid of laws will not yield Utopia.

            "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who then was a gentleman?" Fr. John Ball (1381)

            by Le Gauchiste on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:18:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think you confuse "lawless" with... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Justina, ichibon, RWood, zedaker

              "failed state."

              Either the state enforces rules with force or it does not. If it does not, then we're discussing a lawless society.
              A failed state is a state that breaks down entirely so that no cultural rules, laws or other norms are obeyed. This occurs under a certain set of conditions such as you have in Somalia. A period of oppression keeps one group from throwing off the abuse of another group. The oppression is then released and hatred that has been festering for generations is no longer contained by force. The hatred explodes and it is very difficult to contain again until it burns out. Social norms collapse in front of such suppressed anger and wide spread chaos and murder is committed.

              In other types of state failure, such as economic failure that you saw in Cuba or Argentina when police could not be paid due to failure of currency or being cut off from economic support of Russia, you did not see that sort of chaos, even without the police. There may have been some looting initially, but overall cultural norms held steady even when the law failed to be present on any day to day basis.

              the capitalists would simply use their money to build private armies and crush their opponents.
              And you think they are not doing just that right now. Aside from the examples in the essay, we could also discuss the use of the agency formerly called Blackwater (I think they are still called Xi but I could be wrong, they change their name with the wind.) Blackwater runs operations on US soil. The military was asked by Pres. Bush to violate Pose Comatatus and run a military encampment to help contain US citizens in an emergency. This is a clear violation of the law, but they are still on the soil with the same mission.

              And then we could discuss the use of the US military overseas to enforce the US economics. Or the CIA.

              There are plenty of "communities" in the metro area where I live that are lily-white and rich; if left to their own lawless devices, they would create and enforce community norms that you and I wouldn't like. And the only reason they don't is that federal civil rights laws, etc., prevent them from doing so.
              This is actually a valid point and one that has plagued the legal system from the start. The law or lawlessness is only as good as its jury selection. An unfair or biased jury in either system yields unfair punishment and unequal society. That is why in the present system the darker your skin, the more likely you are to face a conviction, whether just or not.
              Just getting rid of laws will not yield Utopia.
              Heavy sigh. Discussion of any dramatic change is Utopian and therefore not worth discussing. Well we go that one out of the way too.

              De air is de air. What can be done?

              by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:49:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Law or law enforcement? (4+ / 0-)

                I honestly cannot tell if your essay is discussing law or law enforcement; they are separate phenomena, of which the latter is a component, or subset if you prefer, of the former. Are you proposing abolishing law, or law enforcement, or both?

                If you're talking about abolishing criminal law enforcement by police and prosecutors, or at least placing it more firmly under the direct control of the people, I think that is a worthy idea. They did some of that during the Paris Commune, for example.

                I've been thinking of the photos above that illustrate the law, which they do, but only partially. This pic, too, illustrates the law in American history:

                "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who then was a gentleman?" Fr. John Ball (1381)

                by Le Gauchiste on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:13:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Pretty much "law"... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Justina

                  But then if you abolish law, what do you enforce?

                  My answer, of course, is social norms as put forth by 12 people on a jury.

                  I am also discussing viewing the law differently. Viewing our participation and responsibility to each other in monitoring behavior, differently.

                  ??? about the pic, I don't see it on my computer??

                  De air is de air. What can be done?

                  by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:49:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're describing "lynch law"... but in courtrooms (0+ / 0-)

                    And we've already  had a century long experiment with that form of justice

                    We had  it  the Old Dominion southern States ...

                    We had it in the Western Territories

                    It's how the good people of Illinois encouraged Brigham Young and his people  to Go West

                    Happy days !
                    Good times!

                    Unless you were a Mexican, Negro, Jew, Injun, --  or a Female, for that matter.

                    •  You've hit a nerve (0+ / 0-)

                      This is the nasty reality that underlies appeals to localism and attacks on the Federal Government coming from the Right.

                      The recognition that local control does not equate to liberation is characteristic to both Progressives and Radicals in the southern states. Our historical experience indicates that it is just as likely, if not more so, to result in atrocity and oppression. The reactionaries recognize this, which is why they have pushed jury nullification via the "Fully Informed Jury Association."    

        •  excellent to see you Le Gauchiste and as usual (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TPau, cynndara, Justina, WB Reeves, ichibon

          you raise an excellent point. Do you think Hobbes was talking about capitalism (in a period when it didn't exist) or was he arguing a transcendental notion? I think he was making a general point. However, let's talk about Marx who would argue exactly that the role of the state and law is to protect property and impose social norms of the powerful over the dominated and exploited but from a critical perspective.

          Is this a question of laws or rules or social norms? In Somalia there has been a breakdown of civil society and instead we have the rawest form of might makes right and domination. Does law in a class society represent everyone or the needs and perspectives of the powerful; how much can the exploited and dominated influence the creation of civil law or different forms of the law? Does criminal law reflect the views of the society or what does it reflect?  

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:04:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hobbes & Somalia (4+ / 0-)

            Your point about the breakdown of civil society in Somalia is important, and I believe that civil society fell apart there after the state did. Civil society and the state are social constructs whose stability is mutually inter-dependent. Disable one and the other falls.

            You're right that Hobbes was making a general point; my point was that even if Hobbes was wrong and people aren't intrinsically selfish or exploitative, life under centuries of capitalism has made them that way, and the sudden removal of law, which does sometimes serve to restrain those qualities, would be disastrous.

            I agree with your point about Marx, but my reading of Marxists like Gramsci and E.P. Thompson pushes me to see law as a heavily tilted playing field on which classes and other social groupings do battle. Even during the High Noon of laissez-faire Britain, the working class managed to secure passage of the 10-Hour Law, which Marx rightly celebrated as a victory of the political economy of the working class.

            I'm sorry if my criticisms were worded too harshly; when I perceive a-historical Utopianism, I react strongly.

            "When Adam delved and Eve span, Who then was a gentleman?" Fr. John Ball (1381)

            by Le Gauchiste on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:39:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I respectfully disagree... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves, ichibon

              Somalia:

              In an important way, what happened in Somalia was due to too much law. The hatreds, there, festered under state oppression until they exploded.

              Similar situations have happened here in the states with black riots.

              State suppression plays a huge role in allowing societal norms to break down in those situations.

              Disable one and the other falls.
              Not so fast. This is not at all proven to be true. I pointed out that during the brief state failures of Argentina and Cuba, some looting occurred briefly, but civil society did not break down. In fact, communities pulled together to provide services fairly quickly. We saw the same pattern in Egypt during the protests and fall of Mubarak.

              Even up the road from me, in a county across the state line, the sheriff failed the tax increase vote. He sent home all but two of the deputies--essentially making the county "lawless". Was there sudden chaos and destruction in the county. No. The next day dawned much as usual. People went to work, stores opened, and as of yet there has been no spike in murders in this small burg. State control does not equal cultural control. Our cultural controls are far stronger ties.

              I would argue that our reliance on the law is one of the things that makes us feel that Hobbes is correct about human nature. There must be criminals out there breaking the law right and left that are being put in jail by law enforcement. Thank God! Even though you might not know any of them, they are out there and you are being rescued from them.

              That lack of trust in our fellow man is one of the things that makes it hard to come together in society and trust each other to create structures to help ourselves out of the condition we find ourselves--controlled by authoritarian, corporate forces pushing legal buttons.

              De air is de air. What can be done?

              by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:45:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good counter examples (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Justina

                It might be worth considering the example of the former Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet regime, state employees went unpaid for months on end. Yet basic public services didn't cease to function. The power, water and sewer systems continued to function. The trains and subway systems ran. In sum, the disintegration of the Soviet State didn't produce a general societal collapse on par with Somalia.

                However, I would like to see some specifics on how the Somali state played

                ...a huge role in allowing societal norms to break down...
                After all, the Soviet Union was no slouch when it came to State oppression.
                •  True the USSR was oppressive... (0+ / 0-)

                  but pretty much equally so to everyone who wasn't in the upper echelon of the party. This is a great example of collapse of state without collapse of society. Thank you.

                  Somalia happens when one large group suppresses another large group and then the control is released. Like Whites suppress Blacks or some cultural division like that. The anger and resentment build to a murderous head.

                  Good thing there is an ocean between the US and most of the world we've been oppressing. That anger, if it exploded, would be monstrous.

                  De air is de air. What can be done?

                  by TPau on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 06:47:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent points (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NY brit expat

              On the question of the Law as an arena of class struggle, it is worth noting that social revolutions are usually preceded by a wave legal reformism. The transition from reform to revolution usual occurs when reformism reaches the limit of what the ruling elites are willing or able to grant, producing a crisis where the choice lies between revolution and repressive reaction.

              I'm not sure I agree with your assertions vis a vis the state and civil society in Somalia. Perhaps you are more knowledgeable on Somalian history and political culture. How do you exclude the possibility that the state had already undermined civil society prior to its own collapse?

        •  To take up this point, I believe that laws in any (5+ / 0-)

          society are just the justification necessary to enforce the economic system and keep it viable --hence, under capuitalism the "laws" are made to benefit the owners of the means of production.  these are not laws I would like to follow.  Most regular people who live under a system where the laws are not made to benefit them, have learned a long time ago to side step the laws and develop an alternate moral code.  I.e., If welfare does not pay a wage on which people can live, they work under the counter to supplement the welfare check. Or if you pay more taxes than your boss or your tax dollars are not going to benefit you but to wars that benefit the rich, you find ways around paying those taxes.  Anyone living in the black community in New York city knows that their relationship to the police is best served by avoiding them and not calling in crminal activity but solving the problems within the community. Same goes for gay community.  Wome h who live under patriarchal law ignore it -- almost all young Catholic women use birthcontrol.  We do need communal values in a democratic society.  The OWS tried to implement such ideals and ran into the problem of trying to implement them in a capitalist society where selfish individualism in the society at large has been overwhelming OWS's best efforts.Though the inital response and the way people defended OWS shows how badly we want a real ethical code. Wish I had the answer on how we actuate our deepest desires in a politically controlled, capitalist world.
          I wonder what happened in the Egyptian election.  Or more imporatantly, what the response of the street over there will be in the next few months.

      •  But what if (5+ / 0-)

        people turn to evil due to scarcity of resources?  It seems to me from forty years of study on human behavior both individually and in groups, that peaceful and altruistic behavior is the human norm . . . as long as sufficient resources are available to allow for people to live, eat, and maintain some comfort without excessive conflict.  When land/resource availability is inadequate for the number of people, then conflicts escalate, and some individuals -- in increasing numbers as the shortage grows more intense -- find it first easier, then simply necessary, to seize and defend resources by violence.  There are very few people who will not commit brutalities if backed into a situation where they feel they have no other choice in order to survive.  The situation is also usually complicated by hoarding, a natural tendency to preserve resources (like food) against future need, but one which will take resources out of circulation that might otherwise fulfill present and pressing needs of others.

        We now have 9 BILLION people on a relatively small planet, and perhaps 1% of them have undertaken to hoard massive stocks of resource so that they can enjoy fabulous pleasures and comforts while others starve.  I'm  not a fan of Leviathan, but it seems to me that natural human goodness works very well when there is more good land to plow on the other side of the mountain, and not so well when robber barons have already staked out a claim to everything that can be grabbed.  And numerous uncontrolled experiments in seiges, prison enclosures, and "reservations" have demonstrated that human nature gets predictably grisly when the combination of scarcity and population density reaches a certain point.
         

        •  All you say is true in a lawless society and in... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ichibon, zedaker

          the system we have now. Make as many laws as you like. In the situation you describe, they won't be obeyed anyway. All norms and rules break down in such desperate situations.

          It would be far better to have a system that teaches social norms of preservation and stewardship before things got that bad in the first place.

          Actually, the experience inside intact community structure when things get bad is very encouraging. Communities share and help each other. Experiences in enforced starvation within concentration camps and indigenous reservation are full of heroic stories of altruism and generosity.

          Where that breaks down is when one group is pitted against another group they do not see as their "community". For example Native Americans vs. Anglo setters.

          De air is de air. What can be done?

          by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 09:31:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jurors enforcing community norms and stewardship (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Justina

            are, sadly, not different than law.  I have also felt the temptation to presume that the consciences of fatcat  lawmakers were different than the consciences of the rest of us.  Then I went to work for a legislator.  Unfortunately, the state really is the man writ large, and social norms become laws because you can't win a debate with a thief.

            •  Within a lawless corporate dominated society (0+ / 0-)

              where the laws are written to exclude and oppress, I have found juries are occasionally the reedming grace.  Nullifcation still works.  Angela Davis was found not guilty, etc.  Don't think it's a solution (especially now that judges can overturn jury verdicts), but I prefer the uncertainty of the masses to black and white letter law (unless of course you're black in Mississippi-sigh!).

              whenever I have been fightnig for justice, it always required breaking unjust laws.

    •  An excellent distinction! (0+ / 0-)
      I think that distinguishing law from justice is essential ...
      Two substantially different concepts, though often conflated.

      I feel this is similar to the distinction between "Religion" and "Faith" or "Spirituality".

      In both cases, I think, it is the difference between a human or social aspiration vs. the abstract construct defining that aspiration - such constructs provide opportunities for corruption and abuse by those who become the arbiters of the interface between the aspiration and the codification of the aspiration.


      I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

      by The Angry Architect on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:37:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Need help with sources. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, DavidW, Justina

    Sorry this is faintly (but only faintly!) OT, but I'm looking for sources for 'corporate sovereignty' stuff, multi-national corporations who aren't bound to the laws of any one particular nation, but exist in the tension or gray space between them.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:43:43 PM PDT

  •  Your links to "Stars Hollow Gazette," "Docudharma" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, DavidW, TPau

    and "My Fire Dog Lake" aren't working. The ones for Facebook and Twitter won't work either. There must be a problem with the way you added the links. (They start with a www.dailykos first)

    •  thanks Lorikeet ... TPau can you try and fix them? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DavidW, Justina

      I can give it a try, but you are better at embedded links than I am overwhelmingly! :)

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 03:59:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, Dkos, it changed all my quotes to.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat, northsylvania

      an "a" with some symbol and messed up all the links. I had to change them all back again. I think I've got it. Let me know if I missed any more of the links.

      Thank you Lorikeet!

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 04:19:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting idea. But what do you do with crimes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TPau, Justina

    that don't occur with tons of witnesses? It looks like you seek to replace criminal justice system with civil justice system. For some non-violent crimes it may very well work. But if applied to violent crimes, it will lead to situation where people with guns can do what they want. And don't tell me that it's already the case now.

    •  It is already the case now in places we call (0+ / 0-)

      "lawless".

      Where are we, now that we need us most?

      by Frank Knarf on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:14:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The DA and Vigilantism: Good questions.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, Geminijen

      The DA:

      In our current system the state (ie the district attorney of some legal area) can also accuse a person of wrong doing. Most serious crimes are prosecuted in this way. Murder, especially, since the victim is dead and can not be an accuser.  

      I think a lawless society could still have the DA. The community at large should also be able to accuse a person and bring them to court.

      Vigilantism:

      Even in the tone of your question, you negate the idea of getting a gun and enforcing your own law. It is clear from the way you wrote the comment, that will never be considered acceptable by you. Me either. If I took a poll among the readers of this post, I bet none of them would find such behavior acceptable.

      In truth, you don't get a gun and enforce your own desires because such behavior is unacceptable TO YOU. You don't go around thinking to yourself, "I wish it was legal to shoot my neighbor for his loud music at night." (At least I hope you don't.)

      If you did shoot your neighbor for his music in a lawless society, the DA would accuse you and bring you to court. You would face 12 of your other neighbors who would judge if your actions were reasonable and obeyed the Golden Rule. My guess is that 12 people would not find your actions reasonable and you would face their decision on punishment, just as you would now.

      The major norms of society most likely would not change without law. The major norms are the way they are because we do have a culture that is a much stronger enforcer of its rules than the law will every be.

      The main change that a lawless society would see would be the use of the law to permit things the culture would never permit, like poisoning the water supply to increase profits.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 05:18:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But it's not so different from current system (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau

        on violent crimes. You prefer to go to common law and don't use written laws as far as I can understand. But in many cases where there is no minimal sentencing this not so different from what it already done.

        Since someone needs to investigate the crimes, police departments will have to exist as well (maybe in diminished capacity).

        So it's not going to be lawless society, just the society with somewhat different application of laws.

        •  Actually yes.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FG

          Yes, I do think peace officers will be necessary even in a lawless society. Both to issue warrants, sooth tempers, prevent real destruction or harm, and to investigate crime that does not have a ready accuser.

          Common law or tort law is actually law. Juries are restrained by decisions that have happened before in related cases. While a record of previous decisions should be kept and juries should have access to that record, it should not restrain a jury. Each case should be decided on its own merits. Lawyers arguing a case, should be allowed to cite such decisions and how they related to the current case, but juries should decide whether the decisions of a previous jury are relevant or not. A judge should not be the one to make that decision.

          None of that is actually "law" however. Only what a jury decides in the moment.

          De air is de air. What can be done?

          by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:58:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Yet, in our patriarch society, many women (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau, NY brit expat

        have taken the law in their own hands to stop their abusers -- and usually end up in jail as the aggressor with accessive sentences to make sure the patriarchal right of men to punish their women is not overturned. Also, sorry i was late to the discussion, but I was at a 'stop and Frisk" protest of the law in new York City which is used to keep young black men in their place in a racist society.
        Lasws are always meant for the ruling class to keep us in line. But I agree there is a big difference between individual anarchy vs. a society in which the community tries to adjudicate differences without official punishments, but judges each case on its own.  But this can only be done in a small or highly decentralized society.  And there would probably still be a need of a few general guidelines.

  •  This was a very good discussion TP -- I still try (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justina, TPau, NY brit expat, zedaker

    to believe that the implanting of a cooperative idealogy in all of our institutions -- economic, political, cultural-- from the ground up is a good place to start.  OWS was a good beginning.  

  •  The Law, In Its Majesty Prohibits Both the Rich... (5+ / 0-)

    and the Poor from Sleeping Under Bridges.

    Interesting topic, TPau, but I believe that written laws cover so broad a field that general statements about abolishing it may not be useful.  I am a retired lawyer who was also a and law professor.  I was very uncomfortable about teaching law students the importance of legal precedence and its interpretation, when my own experience was that the most judges and most appellate opinions relied for their decisions on what the judges wanted the outcome to be, not on legal precedent or even the clear meaning of a given law they were interpreting.  The opinions of the judges were a product of their own class interests and ethnic and social biases, then they found written precedents to rationalize their decisions.  

    Some jurists, considered highly skilled at doing this, simply rationalized their precedents more artfully than others in order to accomplish their instinctive goals.  Others, less skilled at the art of rationalization or who couldn’t find precedents for what they wanted to do, simply ignored precedent or ignored the clear meaning of the statutes before them.

    (A classic example is that of Gore v. Bush in 2000, in which the Supreme Court’s conservative majority defied the clear meaning of virtually all their own legal precedents to summarily award the presidential election to George Bush.  They resolved the problem of explaining their departure from their previous decisions by simply neglecting to mention their previous decisions at all.)  

    The law is what the U.S. Supreme Court says it is, depending on the majority’s political, ideological and religious interests.  The conservative majority seeks to protect the class interests of themselves, their friends and financial benefactors.

    Thus, we are already living in a lawless society, insofar as our highest legal panel ignores or convolutes the laws it does not like, while upholding those it does like.  I don’t happen to like that form of “lawlessness” at all.

    In contrast, here in Venezuela, the Chavez government has just passed a housing law that gives tenants enormous rights vis a vis their landlords.  It is now very hard to evict tenants unless they have not paid their rent for three months.  And, when non-payment of rent is an issue, the state has taken on the burden of finding the evicted tenants new housing that they can afford.  Virtually no one can be summarily turned out into the streets and made homeless.  (Previously here, many landlords used to baselessly evict tenants so they could charge higher rents to new tenants, much like landlords used to do (and maybe are still doing) in New York City to avoid the restrictions of the rent-control laws.)

    The Venezuelan National Assembly has written many good laws like that, including a new Labor Law which massively extends workers’ rights.  Their new law againt domestic violence gives huge new protections to women.  Thus, it may not be useful to abolish all written laws, but to make sure that all written laws are written by the people and benefit the majority of people, while protecting the basic rights of the minority.  Not always a simple process.  

    Now in the U.S. we have laws written by big corporations and duly passed by their bought-and-paid for legislators.  Increasing the rate of profit for big corporations is really the only sacrosanct “law” in effect these days.

    Thanks TP for generating a really interesting discussion!

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:20:24 PM PDT

    •  I did wonder how you would respond to this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justina, Bob Guyer

      I did think about the Supreme Court while I wrote this.

      You do bring up a valid point. So often social norms convince people not to act in their own self interest. Wisconsin's recent vote to keep Walker comes to mind.

      Many times victims of oppression internalize their own oppression and even if given a chance to sit in judgement over the justice of an abrupt eviction, they may decide that such an eviction is warranted. This would make land lords even more likely to evict.

      To make a lawless system work, you would need three things:

      1. A way to pick a jury that was fair to an accuser and to the accused. Both would need to be reasonably represented.

      2. An educational system that teaches us to argue our point of view even when it is the minority point of view. Such a system must give minorities the resources to argue and  not to be timid when confronted with others who do not hold our point of view.

      3. A system that discusses recent important decisions by juries and why they came to their conclusions so the public knows which way the wind blows.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 10:11:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe it is more the consequence than the law (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zedaker

        I loved your diary and the comments it stimulated. There is just too much to say and think about.

        On your 3 part requirements for a lawless system it seems that case law is substituted for written law in point 3. I don't think that is necessary if you just make the 12 people responsible for determining the consequences for the accused or the accuser (perhaps both would get some consequences as many issues have two tangoing).

        In addition to condition 1, there would have to be a mechanism for ensuring the freedom of jurists from intimidation and bribery.

        Zimbardo, the Stanford Prison Experiment guy, demonstrates clearly that we human individuals are not fully autonomous ethical decision makers but are deeply influenced by our social constructs and our roles within those systems. Three large social systems exert a lot of influence on our ethical decision making and one of them, economic system, has been discussed extensively in the comments. I see big affects from 2 others, the industrial revolution and the formation of the formal doctrine of the Christian religion.

        1 - The industrial revolution has continued the trend of separation from our natural physical and social world making communities far less cohesive and intimate than they have been over the vast stretch of human evolution. This weakens the context necessary for a lawless system to work well.

        2 - Self trust v. distrust. There was a lot of discussion about Hobbs and I fall with your general sense of trusting people, myself included. When I read Elaine Pagels book beyond belief it clarified where the deep self distrust in our culture comes from. The banned gospel of Thomas (a founding religious law of the first Christian church in the Nicaea accords) banned the Christian writings that asserted, Thomas among them, each individual was the same as Jesus and could realize their spiritual identity with God in the same way and to the same degree in their own experience. John said that the individual should not trust their experience but should should instead trust Jesus, the Church and the Bishops. Distrust of self became the law of the church and then the Roman state establishing a foundation for further concentration of power in distant authorities. At least that is how I make sense of it.

        Both these forces would exert an affect on the behavior of a lawless society. Add in the affect of Capitalism and we have quite a complex cultural omelet to unscramble. Loved your post.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:55:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Let me ask your earlier questions back at you. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, Frank Knarf, Bob Guyer, zedaker

    You're in that same restaurant. A man clutches his chest, and collapses. He isn't breathing and his heart has stopped. Do you give him CPR until he wakes up, or do you call an ambulance.

    You're in a shop. Better yet, you're the shop keeper. Organized Crime comes into your shop, smashes everything, and demands protection money. What do you do?

    An anarchist world desires something that is ultimately good: a world where no person exercises power over the life of any other person.

    But attempting to destroy the state without fundamentally changing human nature will not lead to a bright and glorious future.

    There are always people who will seek to rule others: governments, criminals, corporations, but the idea that you seem to be suggesting, that there would be no crime if there were no laws, isn't realistic.

    How often do you see the collapse of a government leading to the rise of warlords?

    Somalia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, bleeding kansas, the pro-confederate gangs after the civil war, the KKK, etc.

    There are two things which are absolutely vital.

    1. Decorrupting our politics, eliminating the power of money in government.

    2. Critical Thinking Education. You can't change human nature until every citizen has learned to think for themselves.

    It's only by changing the desire within people to rule and dominate others that we can get rid of governments.

    That has been the goal of many groups for centuries, and I think we've come a long way, but we have further to go until we've arrived at a place where, collectively, we're ready for anarchy.

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

    by OllieGarkey on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 05:25:33 AM PDT

    •  'Human nature' has nothing to do with it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe wobblie

      Education and organization are verbs, not adjectives.

      •  Will to power is real. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zedaker

        The desire to discharge one's strength.

        As a species, we need to develop to a point that our will to power is directed towards self perfection and endeavors which  don't harm our fellow human beings.

        We're not there yet, and until we get there, we won't be ready for a world without law and government.

        So yeah, human nature has everything to do with it.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 01:37:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know about "the will to power" (0+ / 0-)

          but in my opinion debates over "human nature" would be more productive if they based themselves on scientific research rather than philosophical constructs. How does one measure or quantify the "will to power", or "human nature" for that matter? Before we can talk about what is mutable or immutable, we need a concrete appreciation of what it is we're talking about.

        •  Like I said, the way to get there (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe wobblie

          is education and organization.  Are you putting your hope in evolution?

          •  Education is vital. (0+ / 0-)

            But effective education on a national level that affects everyone requires government.

            An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

            by OllieGarkey on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 02:38:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It requires organization (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joe wobblie

              Which requires education.  Which requires organization.  It's not circular logic- it means with a little bit of organization, we can do a little bit of education (and action, which is basically synonymous with organization imo), which leads to more organization, which leads to more education and organization, and it snowballs until we get there.

              •  So has that ever worked on a small scale? (0+ / 0-)

                100% free private schools done through local organization?

                An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

                by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 06:23:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                  •  Okay, that's a volunteer continuing education (0+ / 0-)

                    system for adults based on topics people are interested in like politics and bicycles.

                    I'm talking about k-12 education here.

                    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

                    by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 03:00:28 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I don't see why that needs to be different. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      joe wobblie

                      Children want to learn.  It only doesn't seem that way because today's schools are such terrible places.

                      •  I don't disagree. (0+ / 0-)

                        But how are we going to pay the teachers needed to teach 150 million students?

                        I don't see how organizing harder gets us to the point that we can be an educational institution as well as everything else we want to be?

                        And anyway, this idea that anarchy means no government is pretty sprurious. Chomsky and the rest of the big writers recognize that government would exist in an anarchist system for public service, things like fire fighting and schools.

                        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

                        by OllieGarkey on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 08:33:40 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'm increasingly realizing (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          joe wobblie

                          that Chomsky is just a social democrat.
                          I definitely disagree with the concept that "government" as a mandatory and totalitarian organization should exist in any capacity or sense.  

                          For things like fire fighting and medical care, there are many ways to do it- for example, a community might discuss and decide they want a collective firefighting organization; they might find people within their population who have firefighting skills or are willing to learn, or appeal to outside groups who have established organizations.  Or maybe a small collective within a community could decide on their own that they want to become firefighters for the community, and ask the community for support (they might agree, or they might not!- if they agree, then they might not be able to provide any support, in which case the volunteers might go ahead with bad equipment and training, or they might attempt to find outside support, or they might give up entirely.).  When new people are thinking of moving to the area, they may be told of the local firefighter collective... or they might not, in which case it would be their responsibility to figure it out for themselves.  They're neighbors, not babysitters.

                          Sure, it seems complicated- but even such a seemingly-complicated matter would only require a few meetings.  When things are actually under their control, people want to be involved in the process.  Look at Occupy- Tens of thousands of people have been involved in General Assemblies, which are a tragically ponderous and inefficient version of good Consensus process- and yet they have been ecstatic to be part of it.

                          Also, cities are a special matter.  IMO it would be a good idea for the many, many neighborhoods and natural communities (which would have their own internal decision-making process) to discuss city-wide matters such as fire protection (also utilities, civil defense, urban planning, etc) using a delegate system- slightly different from a representative system, in which a person is appointed to make decisions for the group, in a delegate system an individual is appointed to report the decisions, proposals, and offers of the group, and then reports back to their group after each meeting of delegates.  This is actually how all 'formal' decision-making between different groups in an Anarchist society works, but I just wanted to highlight it for cities.

                          But how are we going to pay the teachers needed to teach 150 million students?
                          (overlooking, for the moment, your "150 million" statement, which seems to imply a nation-state) The same way everyone else would be- as each community decides.  If professional teachers could even be said to exist.  And I will assume that by "pay" you mean compensation other than money- in fact 'compensation' is probably the wrong word because it implies some kind of quid-pro-quo relationship between a person's contributions and their 'reward'.  In an Anarchist society, if a member of a community needs something, the community will provide it- house work?  Food?  Medical needs?  If this concept seems alien to you, you probably don't live in a real community.
                          •  Good Discussion. (0+ / 0-)
                            I'm increasingly realizing that Chomsky is just a social democrat.
                            You missed his points then, and need to read again. Don't feel bad though. Heidegger is sometimes an easier read than Chomsky, for me at least. Of course, I agree with Heidegger much, much, less than I agree with Chomsky.
                            I definitely disagree with the concept that "government" as a mandatory and totalitarian organization should exist in any capacity or sense.
                            Government isn't mandatory at all. No one is keeping you inside the US. You're not forced to be a citizen. I'll deal with this later.

                            And Social Democrats don't generally fight for workplace democracy.

                            You're sounding pretty right-wing right now. You sound like the libertarians who want to shrink the government to a size where it can be drowned in the bathtub. That's the argument for tax cuts for billionaires: it's not about the billionaires, it's about starving the government. I don't want to be unfair, so I'll assume that this isn't what you're saying, and ask for you to elaborate on this.

                            For things like fire fighting and medical care, there are many ways to do it- for example, a community might discuss and decide they want a collective firefighting organization... When new people are thinking of moving to the area, they may be told of the local firefighter collective... or they might not, in which case it would be their responsibility to figure it out for themselves.  They're neighbors, not babysitters.
                            So society should let peoples houses burn down? That seems to be what you're suggesting. The idea of personal responsibility for fire fighting is a pretty republican idea. That's what republican budget cuts are doing. Firefighters are watching people's houses burn down in Tennessee. I'm opposed to that kind of system.
                            Sure, it seems complicated- but even such a seemingly-complicated matter would only require a few meetings.  When things are actually under their control, people want to be involved in the process.  Look at Occupy- Tens of thousands of people have been involved in General Assemblies, which are a tragically ponderous and inefficient version of good Consensus process- and yet they have been ecstatic to be part of it.
                            As someone who's been involved with Occupy since I stood in Zuccotti park on the third day of the occupation, I agree with what you've said here. I like the idea of the new town hall, I like the idea of empowered local government, and I like the idea of participatory democracy. I think this is how a district within a larger body should decide budgeting and discretionary spending, and education, and all these other things. Participatory budgeting is part of what I'm talking about.

                            We're making the state more democratic, and that's a good thing. That's part of what occupy is about. Occupy is a (small-d) democratic movement. It's about democratization.

                            Also, cities are a special matter.  IMO it would be a good idea for the many, many neighborhoods and natural communities (which would have their own internal decision-making process) to discuss city-wide matters such as fire protection (also utilities, civil defense, urban planning, etc) using a delegate system- slightly different from a representative system, in which a person is appointed to make decisions for the group, in a delegate system an individual is appointed to report the decisions, proposals, and offers of the group, and then reports back to their group after each meeting of delegates.  This is actually how all 'formal' decision-making between different groups in an Anarchist society works, but I just wanted to highlight it for cities.
                            That's a distinction without a difference. That's what representative democracy should be, and that's what's happening with participatory budgeting and these other things which are happening on the local and city level. Some of these things predate occupy, as well, but part of what occupy is doing is pushing these things to the fore.

                            There's no difference between a representative and a delegate. For example, Virginia has a house of delegates. Making the government function based on participation is exactly the right direction to go. This is exactly what Chomsky and others have been writing about for a long time, using the office of a representative to organize local bodies in a democratic way. That doesn't take getting rid of the system, that takes changing the system, and it's working in some places.

                            But how are we going to pay the teachers needed to teach 150 million students?
                            (overlooking, for the moment, your "150 million" statement, which seems to imply a nation-state) The same way everyone else would be- as each community decides.  If professional teachers could even be said to exist.
                            Okay, now we're getting into places where I have to disagree with you in pretty strong terms. What you're talking about here is the destruction of division of labor. What we need to see is a society where devision of labor does not lead to classes of worth or rank.

                            Division of labor means that when producing something complicated, specialization happens. I cannot fight fires, but I can teach history. I wouldn't expect a fire fighter to be able to teach history, because he hasn't been trained. Training is vital. Learning is vital. One person cannot learn to perform every specialized role, and teaching is a specialized role. Fire fighting is a specialized role (you need to learn how to read smoke, I'm told.)

                            And I will assume that by "pay" you mean compensation other than money- in fact 'compensation' is probably the wrong word because it implies some kind of quid-pro-quo relationship between a person's contributions and their 'reward'.
                            Wrong. I mean: how does one guarantee that teachers have the means to thrive? You're right that English breaks down here.
                            In an Anarchist society, if a member of a community needs something, the community will provide it- house work?  Food?  Medical needs?  If this concept seems alien to you, you probably don't live in a real community.
                            Unless they're new people who "might not" be told about the "fire fighting collective." In the case that we don't like them, fuck em, let their house burn down. We're neighbors, not babysitters. I'm being unfair here, but this is a major contradiction in your statement. People's needs will be provided for... sometimes? Clear this up for me.

                            It seems ultra right-wing, too, so to be fair I'm going to assume that I don't understand you, and let you clear this up for me.

                            And I need to deal with a very specific point of yours.

                            I definitely disagree with the concept that "government" as a mandatory and totalitarian organization should exist in any capacity or sense.
                            Government is not mandatory, and never has been. You do not have to live in the united states. You are not forced to be a citizen. You can reject your citizenship and become a stateless person, if you wish. However, you have not made this choice, which makes it seem to me that you desire, for now, the protection and rights that derive from american citizenship.

                            From where do rights derive? The libertarian states that rights derive from self ownership. The theocrat states that rights derive from the divine.

                            But what is a right? Have you ever seen a right? Is a right scientifically measureable? Are there liberty particles which can be detected by some kind of divice?

                            No. Rights do not exist except where human beings agree that rights exist. If you are prevented from exercizing a right, then you do not possess that right.

                            Thus, rights derive from the social contract, and the purpose of governments is to protect the rights that we all agree we have. I'll get back to this point later.

                            If there is no government, if there is no law, if there is no social contract, then the only rights you have are what your strength and guile provide, and nothing more.

                            If it's a zombie apocalypse, and I have a gun, and you do not, and I need the food that you possess, then you don't have property rights anymore. If you argue, I can revoke your right to life, because I have a gun and I'll starve if I don't take your food.

                            Rights exist when we agree they exist, when we have a social contract which proves they exist. Rights are not inherent. That's why fighting in the courts against NDAA is so important, that's why protesting is important.

                            That's why nobody who hates the government, be they Anarchist or Libertarian, is willing to revoke their citizenship, because they know that rights derive from social contracts. That rights don't exist unless you can defend them with force.

                            Otherwise, the way to win would be to just drop out and form a commune like people did back in the 60's. You'd defeat the government by acting as if it didn't exist. But that doesn't work. Because people have been trying that for centuries.

                            If the government doesn't exist, and we all decide to be anarchist collectives, then there will be people who will set out to conquer. We will return to the days of kings and conquests, because to some people, power is a precious commodity that is worth killing to obtain.

                            If this were not a fact, then the concept of kingship would never have developed, nor patriarchy, nor theocracy, nor government of any kind.

                            So the solution then, as provided by anarchist thought through Chomsky and others, is not to create a society where the state does not exist, or where the state lacks power, but to create a democratic society where the local body politic exerts absolute control over the levers of power.

                            Democratization. Democratized wealth, a Democratized workplace, and Democratized government where every decision is participatory.

                            That's the goal.

                            There's a lot more to be said, but I'll leave it here for now.

                            An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

                            by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 07:13:15 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            joe wobblie
                            You missed his points then, and need to read again.
                            I'm not sure he's ever made it exactly clear what he stands for.  As far as Anarchists go, he's certainly not part of the modern cutting edge of theory or praxis.
                            So society should let peoples houses burn down?
                            I think people have a strong desire to prevent their house and their neighbors' houses from burning down.  Should they then be obligated to do so?  How would such an obligation be administered?  Taxes and bureaucracy?  I have a little more faith in people's ability to figure it out for themselves.
                            I think this is how a district within a larger body should decide budgeting and discretionary spending, and education, and all these other things
                            Why limit a community's decision-making power at all?  The "larger body" could easily consist of delegates of smaller groups, on an ad-hoc basis.
                            There's no difference between a representative and a delegate. For example, Virginia has a house of delegates.
                            like how North Korea is a Democratic People's Republic?
                            A representative makes decisions on behalf of a group.  A delegate reports decisions that have been made by a group.
                            What you're talking about here is the destruction of division of labor.
                            To some extent...
                            One person cannot learn to perform every specialized role,
                            ...but not completely.  Some people are better at certain things.  Some people prefer to do certain things. But we should start moving away from this idea that a person is "a firefighter" or "a teacher" in the sense than an ant is "a soldier" or "a worker".
                            and teaching is a specialized role.
                            I'm not an expert on anarchist pedagogy, but I think a better system would be for children to be in charge of their learning rather than this idea that they are empty vessels to be filled with knowledge.  Freire etc.
                            Wrong. I mean: how does one guarantee that teachers have the means to thrive? You're right that English breaks down here.
                            The same way that anyone's survival is ensured in such a society- community planning based on gift/solidarity economics.  There are no guarantees in life, even if we say "the government will take care of it!"
                            Unless they're new people who "might not" be told about the "fire fighting collective." In the case that we don't like them, fuck em, let their house burn down. We're neighbors, not babysitters. I'm being unfair here, but this is a major contradiction in your statement. People's needs will be provided for... sometimes? Clear this up for me.
                            It's up to the community.  If a person is moving to a place where they're surrounded by strangers 1) why the fuck would they want to move there and 2) why would the existing community agree to let them move there?  The neighbors MIGHT help them out of the goodness of their hearts, but what kind of a jerk moves somewhere and expects others to take care of them?  Now if they've got things arranged beforehand, that's different; that's being responsible.  But, yeah, if you're irresponsible, don't come running to me and expect help, because that can't be allowed to become precedent.  As soon as people find out you're a mark, you're fucked.
                            Government is not mandatory, and never has been. You do not have to live in the united states. You are not forced to be a citizen. You can reject your citizenship and become a stateless person, if you wish.
                            I don't have the option to not pay property taxes.  I was born here; if I don't want to be part of the government, it should get off my land, not the other way around.
                            However, you have not made this choice, which makes it seem to me that you desire, for now, the protection and rights that derive from american citizenship.
                            If I wasn't, I'd be at an unfair disadvantage in various ways.  Personally, I find citizenship to be arbitrary.  It's like if you ask me my favorite color.
                            No. Rights do not exist except where human beings agree that rights exist. If you are prevented from exercizing a right, then you do not possess that right.
                            "Power flows from the barrel of a gun."
                            Otherwise, the way to win would be to just drop out and form a commune like people did back in the 60's. You'd defeat the government by acting as if it didn't exist.
                            That doesn't work because the State is totalitarian- it demands to exist everywhere.  One can drop out, but only temporarily.  And even a drop-out group still has to pay taxes, which necessitates participating in the capitalist economy in some way (in order to raise money with which to pay said taxes)... no, the only way to be free of the State is to destroy it.
                            If the government doesn't exist, and we all decide to be anarchist collectives, then there will be people who will set out to conquer.
                            Sure.  And that's why organization is necessary.  Community federations for day-to-day protection against murderers, rapists, and thieves; federations between communities for slightly better-organized threats; federations of federations for war when necessary.  Just a few levels of federation can account for the whole human race.
                            anarchist thought ... is not to create a society where the state does not exist
                            ^blink^
                            but to create a democratic society where the local body politic exerts absolute control over the levers of power.

                            Democratization. Democratized wealth, a Democratized workplace, and Democratized government where every decision is participatory.

                            Those are fine principles.  I'm talking about the mechanical details of how such a society would actually function.
    •  What are the other people in the shop doing?... (0+ / 0-)

      The other shop owners next door to the shop?

      Why?

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 07:03:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry TPau, missed your comment. (0+ / 0-)

        This isn't about the other shopkeepers.

        The point is, someone's got to fend off the wolves.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail. (The truth against the world.) Is treasa tuath na tighearna. (The common people are mightier than the lords.)

        by OllieGarkey on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 07:20:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I sometimes think of the law the way the historian (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zedaker

    Edward Gibbon thought of religion:

    The theologian may indulge the pleasing task of describing Religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian. He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon Earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.
    Although I certainly dispute Gibbon's strong implication that the human race is inherently "weak and degenerate," institutionalizing and concentrating the power to make, apply, and interpret law certainly takes it farther and farther away from any notion of justice as fairness and mercy enacted within a communal or social context.

    Or, as Shakespeare once put it:

    But man, proud man,
    Drest in a little brief authority,
    Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
    His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
    Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
    As make the angels weep.
    Or, more simply:
    Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Remind me why Jamie Dimon is worth about 50,000 teachers? Tweet

    by caul on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:46:55 AM PDT

  •  Having thought about this overnight, the problem (0+ / 0-)

    is that we desire justice, and see law as the apparatus which might deliver it.  The anarchists point out that this fails in practice as class interests and corruption subvert the legal system and serve the powerful at the expense of ordinary people.

    But this is a political problem, and politics will not evaporate in any case.  This entire argument is just a proxy for the anarchist political enterprise, and suffers from the same flaws.

    For an eloquent counterargument, try: "The Structure of Liberty:  Justice and the Rule of Law", R.E. Barnett

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 07:55:03 AM PDT

  •  Wow, thanks for this Diary... (0+ / 0-)

    and very interesting conversation which ensued.

    I discovered much...

    (Mostly that I know very little, and have much more to learn about the ideas discussed herein.)


    I kinda screwed up with a careless uprate so (for now?) I'm a "No Rate" pariah. So when I give a comment "+110% n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround fix to participating in this community!)

    by The Angry Architect on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 08:52:57 AM PDT

  •  The importance of the rule of law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WB Reeves, Frank Knarf

    Simply put, the system you propose engenders too much uncertainty. Laws may be misused by the powerful, but lack of laws will be misused even more fiercely. Juries can be bought, both subtly and directly. In your system, which I have heard many Libertarians espouse, the rich will win more often in court as they have more power to sway others.

    When laws are not written down, when people must guess what actions will be considered acceptable, they are more likely to cause harm to others, and try to justify and explain it later.

    When punishments are not agreed to ahead of time, they are always punitive. There is no social contract that specifies, "When you do this thing, this consequence will happen" and so, it is the whims and prejudices of the jury that create the punishment.

    The rule of law is a check on the misuse of power by the powerful. That it can, like any other tool, be co-opted by the powerful is not an indictment of the concept of the rule of law. It is an indictment of us, the keepers and guardians of the rule of law.

    I have seen the rule of law operate in an anarchist environment. I should specify: a SOCIAL anarchist environment, Rainbow Gatherings. Everyone is Shanti Sena, or peacekeeper. But there are also "professional" Shanti Sena (they don't get paid, but that is the duty they choose to take on, year after year.) Now, Rainbow Gatherings are certainly anarchist events, but they have written rules, and consequences for breaking them. It is this fact that has kept the Rainbow Gathering functioning as an anarchist event for over thirty years.

    Very thoughtful and well written diary, but in the end I have to class the idea with other libertarian solutions: a simple answer to a complex problem that has about as much chance of working well as all simple solutions to complex problems.

    •  Respectful Rebuttal: (0+ / 0-)
      When laws are not written down, when people must guess what actions will be considered acceptable, they are more likely to cause harm to others, and try to justify and explain it later.
      My experience is just the opposite. My colleagues and I live under the medical Golden Rule our entire adult lives and if anything it makes us overly cautious.
      When you do this thing, this consequence will happen" and so, it is the whims and prejudices of the jury that create the punishment.
      Most punishment are in a range now and so subject to whim and prejudice of a judge. Unless they are overly rigid like the three strikes law that punishes people for being poor and undereducated.

      Rainbow Gathering is certainly anarchist. If you had not seen everyone acting as peacekeeper, would you have believed that system could work?

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 07:14:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anarchist order (very long post)- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie

    Laws and the legalist philosophy are fundamentally broken on three counts: First, the technical; second, the composition; third, the enforcement.

    The technical problem is this: A law that is written must be not merely specific but exact.  It is not fair or consistent to speak in broad generalizations even if "everyone knows" what the idea is.  For example, suppose there is a law that homeowners must keep the sidewalks adjacent to their house clear of snow.  Everyone knows what that means, but there's no perfect way to word it.  Obviously it's impossible to remove every particle of snow.  If there's a limit, such as snow must be less than .5", is it really so bad if a person allows it to accumulate on their sidewalk to a depth of .51"?  If there is a graduated scale (i.e. a punishment for .51-1"; a larger for 1"-2", etc), then why is .5" perfectly fine when .51" is against the law?

    To change the numbers after the fact negates the whole idea of law, which is that the guidelines and associated punishments are made clear beforehand.

    The problem of composition is this: Who writes the laws?  Not much needs to be said about the problems with the way law-making currently works.  The corruption and problems of democracy are obvious.  Moreover, forcing a community to accept laws, even if the process was "fair," is never democratic.

    The problem of enforcement, TPau did a good job of explaining.  I also want to highlight the point that by relying on specialists, we to some extent cripple ourselves.  Like they say, "When you need the police right now, they're only 10 minutes away".

    ----

    Property is a significant part of law, obviously.  The capitalist definition of property is based on title- there is a piece of paper somewhere, recognized by the government, that says that you are the owner of each and every object and asset you call yours.  Everything from factories to a donut has a title, whether it's a deed or a receipt.  The primary function of the State is to recognize title and to clarify and enforce it if there is a dispute.  This is the main function of law, other than retribution and compensation for personal injury (which I'll get to shortly).  To talk about law necessitates talking about property.

    Let me illustrate a general idea of Anarchist 'law'-

    First, it presupposes a world generally consisting of basically sovereign small communities, organized through networks and federations, whether independent and self-reliant small 'towns' of just a few hundred or decentralized but contiguous cities of hundreds of thousands or millions.

    Each community/collective has its own internal decision-making process (formal or informal).  Each individual in a group contributes to the group and to other individuals as they see fit, based on the discussion the group has about their needs and available resources (which are what each individual wishes to contribute).  Sharing and contributing between groups is done through similar communication.  It is the prerogative of any individual or group to not contribute, if they so choose.  The consequence of being uncooperative would likely be expulsion, although the individual or group would be allowed to keep their personal property (such as their personal farm land; if a group is expelled from another group, they should be allowed to keep their collective property).

    The Anarchist conception of property differs fundamentally from the Capitalist one.  Capitalist property is based on title; Anarchist property is based on use.  Why do you own your car?  The Capitalist says, "Because you have the title"; the Anarchist says, "Because you use it to get around."  Who owns the factory?  The Capitalist says, "Whoever holds the title"; the Anarchist says, "Whoever works there."

    Shoplifting, for example, becomes a completely alien concept in an Anarchist society.  If stockpiling for profit (rather than for use) is illegitimate, then taking from such a stockpile is legitimate- and should even be encouraged!  The phenomenon of artificial scarcity present in capitalist society would be gone, and people would be free to give freely, as they desire to do, as humans.  Of course, the taxes of the State and the hoarding of the Capitalists forces us to sell commodities and our labor-time; but those are surmountable.

    ----

    What would be done about those who break the good order of society by taking what others are already using without consent, or who unjustly attack or threaten?  First, every community and collective should practice good security, and be sure of who is coming into their space.  Self-defense must be the responsibility of every individual and community so that attacks are not merely retaliated against but actually prevented- with lethal force if necessary (and if appropriate- for a serious physical attack, maybe; not for taking a little food).

    Where the legal system significantly differs from the Anarchist system (which I speak of in the present tense, as there are groups that operate in this way) is in what happens if an attack or robbery occurs.  Law's response is best described by the Foucault book Discipline and Punish: Prisons are partially efforts to reform individuals (from a 'dispositionist' view of human psychology, meaning certain people are born 'bad' and that's just the way they are, unless the evil is educated or beaten out of them) and partially efforts to terrorize the rest of the population into thinking again before engaging in a crime.  Obviously these are conflicting goals, and neither has anything to do with human nature.

    Instead, the Anarchist response is generally this: First, the offender is found (maybe by what is basically a posse).  Second, they are asked if they admit to what they are accused of doing and, if so,  why they did what they did- it's possible that they didn't actually do it, or, if they did, they may have had a good reason.  Next is reconciliation or expulsion: If a person agrees that what they did was wrong, they have to go through an accountability process, which is something I can't speak of in great detail (I don't have any personal experience with it) but hopefully you get the idea.

    At no point is there any arrest or threat of punishment, involuntary forfeiture of assets, imprisonment, or execution.  The only threat is this, which ties back to the Anarchist concept of the economy: If a person is found to be untrustworthy, they will be expelled.  Each individual makes this choice- if they disagree with the decision of their group, a cordial rearrangement may be in order.

    What is really at stake is trust.  People and groups who trust each other will give to and support each other.  People who betray that trust will be cut off.  This is how humans naturally behave socially and it should be recognized, reinforced, and built around when considering social systems.

    •  Thank you. This is one of clearest descriptions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      of anarchist absurdity that I've seen in quite a while.

      I'd love to hear you expound on the needless specificity found in architectural and engineering standards, EPA regulations and workplace safety rules.  Silly liberal word cheese that needlessly limits our creativity.

      Where are we, now that we need us most?

      by Frank Knarf on Mon Jun 18, 2012 at 02:39:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for limiting it to 1137 words (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe wobblie

        Next time I'll try to include every possible argument, counterpoint, and example for every minute aspect of law, regulation, government, and why not every aspect of society and natural law while I'm at it, for our friends who are apparently incapable of recognizing the concepts and extrapolating.

      •  Seriously where the fuck do you get off like this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe wobblie

        considering that the original diary had NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING like what you're saying here?  It talked about loose concepts and principles.  This comment of yours is complete bullshit.

        •  Responding calmly, I assert that a system of (0+ / 0-)

          codified laws, rules and regulations with specific descriptions and constraints are needed in order for a modern society to function.  This is true for criminal and civil law and for the regulation of production and service activities.  I previously cited a reference that develops a philosophical and practical case for this view.

          The anarchist position imagines an alternative world in which human behavior and social organization are not limited by the objective reality in which we actually live.  There is no point in arguing about this since we are unlikely to cover any new ground.

          Where are we, now that we need us most?

          by Frank Knarf on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 08:29:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You brought up regulations out of nowhere (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joe wobblie, TPau

            which are inherently different from injury and theft, and which no one has talked about in this whole thread, and certainly not in my absurdly long above post.  If you want to talk about regulations, let's talk about regulations.  If you want to talk about what I actually said, let's talk about what I actually said.

          •  Sadly subjective... (0+ / 0-)
            by the objective reality in which we actually live.  
            We offer so many examples to the contrary and you offer only your assertion that the world and human nature are evil.

            De air is de air. What can be done?

            by TPau on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 07:26:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  RanDomino, Thank you so much for your clear (0+ / 0-)

      comments. A wonderful discussion of anarchist thought. You are right, I should have picked a better example than shoplifting. :) I am sorry I saw this so late or I would have reced it.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Tue Jun 19, 2012 at 07:24:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I tend to think we need more capitalism, (0+ / 0-)

    not less.  The problem is, what Republicans call capitalism is really corporate welfare.  Sweetheart deals with corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater are being labeled as capitalism but they really are just an example of the rich schmoozing Washington with their connections for deals that make them richer using taxpayer money.  

    It's funny how ideological these diaries are at times.  I was re-reading Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism and marveling at how radically different viewpoints can converge and diverge.  Wilde, who was an anarchist-socialist (and there were many of that stripe) operated from the starting premise that altruism was a bad thing, individualism was a good thing, that it was the source (or fountainhead if you prefer that term, which means the same thing, ha ha) of human creativity.  

    Does this all sound very familiar so far?  Yup.  Ayn Rand could have stolen directly from Wilde.  But where Wilde went on to say that we need to stop the capitalist system so everybody could be prosperous and release the creative individual within us all, Rand and Spenser and others went the totally opposite direction, ostensibly for the same motives.  Strangely enough, the Rand version appeals more to people like the Koch brothers than the Wilde version.

    Personally, I don't see any fundamental philosophical issues at play here in the argument of capitalism versus socialism.  Those are secondary.

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