Monday, April 11, 2011

The Law

One frequently hears: "Do not take law into your own hands." It is worth asking: "Why not?"

The truthful answer has to be: "Because you cannot be trusted to be just."

The law is a surjective mapping of states of anguish and outrage to procedural remedies.

If somebody does you "wrong", then you file a complaint, and watch as the circus unfolds.

Since the Law takes care, your masculinity, or bravery, or courage, or cowardice are irrelevant.

The law is meant to protect the weak, and thereby weakens the strong. It is a move towards equality. An effective law-enforcement system is essential to social equality.

The Western genre of films and fiction is a celebration of masculinity precisely because law has not been delegated to institutions.

The Hero exists because he directs (or resists) his fate. If the tools of engaging with fate are relegated to others, then heroism is going to become extinct.

There are no heroes in a metropolitan city. There are only those who know the process well, and others who are relatively ignorant.

The nerd is the future of man. The nerd is not an actor, but a twiddler.

"The opposite of manliness isn't cowardice; it's technology." (N N Taleb)

"Knowledge is power", but when it replaces "Will power" then it leads to emptiness and psychological impotence.

War is the absence of Law. There have been efforts to internationalize law, but to little effect. Countries fight with their neighbors using all the means at their disposal, but criminalize the same activity between two individuals within the nation. Even shouting at your spouse is a criminal act in many modern societies.

Some say, and I agree, that modernity is the dominance of the intellect over the emotional. Intellect is procedure, and procedure is by its very nature a wet blanket for the fire of emotion.

The Law can be considered a further step in the same direction. To not only relegate to reason, but to relegate to others whose job it is then to work within reason to address a wrong.

Unless it consists of psychologically neutered individuals, a law-abiding society is an alienating one.

The more law-abiding a society, the more it will need faux outlets for fulfillment.

The tribal does not need enlightenment. The city-dweller does. What the city-dweller seeks nostalgically is a feeling of aliveness, which has been usurped by the machinery of the city.

Consider (simplistically) the three levels of living: physical, emotional and intellectual. The city values only the third, with the first two being artifacts instead of being natural, spontaneous parts of one's day. How can it be a fulfilling life?

The Law is institutionalized and formalized conflict-resolution. What people seek is revenge and to hurt the other and to see tears on the other's face, what Law cares about is written argument and whether the affidavit is notarized. It is not nearly the same thing.

It is an interesting question to ask whether an advanced and evolved society will have more laws or less. Whether it will be able to trust its citizenry to be just and therefore take law into their own hands.

Gun control laws are opposed by "conservative" men unwilling to become applicants to the state to redress their wrongs, but are advocated by "progressive" feminists, leftists and believers in democracy and its institutions.

(to be continued)

21 comments:

Thomas Anderson said...

"The nerd is the future of man. The nerd is not an actor, but a twiddler."

Well, the nerd is creating the technology so he's not a twiddler. it's the one who is using the technology who is inactive and being passive

Modern Man said...

Harman,

Great post. You wrote: "The tribal does not need enlightenment. The city-dweller does. What the city-dweller seeks nostalgically is a feeling of aliveness, which has been usurped by the machinery of the city."

This echoes an essay I recently read by Bruce Charlton, which you can find here: http://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/meaning-of-life.html

Existential despair, the quest for enlightenment, the pursuit of truth: all of these, he argues, are the psychic seeds man planted when he developed agriculture.

I'm looking forward to part 2.

-MM

Harmanjit Singh said...

@MM: great article. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The "Quest" for completeness or enlightenment is as old as man, as old as his fear of the fury of Nature, as old as his fear of death. Even Adam and Eve or the earliest cavemen were in "quest", restless and searching.The quest goes on just as the sun rises and sets and the earth revolves round the sun.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous, I also agree with you that the quest for completeness is as old as Adam and Eve or since the time when polarities came up.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous:

"The "Quest" for completeness or enlightenment is as old as man, as old as his fear of the fury of Nature, as old as his fear of death."

I think the quest for safety is different from the quest for completeness or enlightenment, the latter being a much later development.

Anonymous said...

Why does man seek to be "safe"?
Why does he seek "enlightenment"?

Are the answers "very different"?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous:

"Why does man seek to be "safe"?
Why does he seek "enlightenment"?

Are the answers "very different"? "

Good point.

I think there is a reasonable threshold of safety and health which can satisfy a tribal (or a child), whereas enlightenment/fulfillment is an abstract, never-reached chimera.

Anonymous said...

The questions I asked were "WHY", and not what is the difference between safey and enlightenment.

Think about the answers to "Why" one seeks safety or enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

"I think there is a reasonable threshold of safety and health which can satisfy a tribal (or a child), whereas enlightenment/fulfillment is an abstract, never-reached chimera."

I think that human desire has no end, whether it be of a tribal or a modern man.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous

"I think that human desire has no end, whether it be of a tribal or a modern man."

Ah, here I disagree. Unending or continuously nagging desire is a state of neurosis which may not always exist in all people at all times. I have certainly seen people who are quite content and who sleep happily.

Desire for psychological fulfillment is a development much later in human history.

It is alienation or loneliness which leads to all kinds of efforts to fulfill or to complete oneself, and I think the essential question is: Is alienation/loneliness a modern development? I would answer: Yes.

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous:

"The questions I asked were "WHY", and not what is the difference between safey and enlightenment.

Think about the answers to "Why" one seeks safety or enlightenment. "

I will try to ignore the condescension in your remarks.

One seeks safety because of fear of injury or harm. One seeks enlightenment because of alienation or unfulfillment.

Anonymous said...

And WHY does one feel the fear of harm or injury?
WHY does one feel "unfulfilled" or "alienated"?

Harmanjit Singh said...

@anonymous:

"And WHY does one feel the fear of harm or injury?
WHY does one feel "unfulfilled" or "alienated"?"

I speculate that after I answer, another question from you will be forthcoming. Hence, I suggest that you write an article about this issue, detailing your thoughts, and provide a link.

Anonymous said...

"I have certainly seen people who are quite content and who sleep happily."

Were any of those people young? Or were all of them in the age range when the raging hormones had peaked and had hit the slopes?

Anonymous said...

Laws are rules that help maintain the state of balance and harmony in the Universe and its members. "Seeking" whether it be seeking safety,knowledge, enlightenment,love or wealth is an attempt by a human to remain in a state of balance.
There are Natural laws and manmade laws. Man made laws are relative to time and place. Any thing man made is prone to errors and mistakes. If a law results in a state of imbalance it can be deemed an unfair law. Society evolves as man bites deeper and deeper into the fruit of knowledge.When man forgets that all laws be it Natural or man made are meant to retain that state of balance, he errs. So as society evolves or as human knowledge increases, man needs to be more and more aware of the purpose of laws. A society that is well aware of the purpose of laws will only need a few of them to help it retain that state of balance.

Anonymous said...

"I have certainly seen people who are quite content and who sleep happily."

Is there a method or a way to achieve a state of contentment? Or do you consider it to be a natural gift?

Vidyut said...

I resonate so much with your words, its eerie. Well said. There needs to be a time when we say enough laws, more living. If you can spare the time, I'd appreciate your views on: Police state and illegitimate citizens

Ajar Vashisth said...

I could not stop thinking and admiring this post. I see that the concrete jungle and technology are sucking the real life out of everything!

Anonymous said...

Its a human flaw to be nostalgic for the old and curse the new. Tribal people had their own problems. The reason we have reached this stage was because we evolved first as a tribe then community then kingdom then nation and then as a society. And evolution occurs always to better something in the present. We will always have some problems which were not present earlier but then are this problems so bad that they negate the earlier problems that we overcame.