“... but I guess she felt as I: that the weakness was not Government but Man, one at a time, that men were never as strong as their ideas and that ideas were governments turned into men.” - Charles Bukowski
It gives one pause to witness so many free, intelligent and otherwise lucid people excrete blivits of bad faith in their understanding of and actions in relation to THE LAW.
Now, by “bad faith” I do not mean to impugn everyone as consciously double-minded demons — though some of those people (politicians) do exist. Rather, our friendly Internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines the term quite well:
“Bad faith is a sustained form of deception which consists of entertaining or pretending to entertain one set of feelings while acting as if influenced by another. It is associated with hypocrisy, breach of contract, affectation, and lip service.”
Indeed, many people have been adopting false feelings in regard to the law, perverting the law in ways that not only undermine human freedom but also demolish the very function of just law — i.e to serve as a defense against invasions of persons and their property. The law in a free society is meant to protect our natural right to life and liberty against private criminals and public tyrants alike with defensive force. Yet, can anyone say with a straight face this is the de facto role of the law today?
No. Bad faith, having leached the minds of so many American lawmakers, has transformed the law into an assortment of aggressive devils.
Some people see the law as blind, as a neutral set of rules made so objective by the due process of a political system embodied by fallible and depraved men with their subjective wishes and wants. These folks do not like being reminded that they are fallen human beings always subject to their own subjective limitations and interests no matter how much they yoke themselves to some abstract process.
Other people see the law as a useful tool, a set of guidelines for ‘our’ big social club to organize itself — or put another way, for them to organize other people. These folks don’t like being reminded that the law is actually more of a violent “club” for beating people’s brains out than a “club” for meeting with our fellows, sipping a few cocktails and exchanging the latest gossip while also discussing how ‘we’ build the perfect society.
Yet, some other folks do see the law exclusively as a weapon meant to destroy others — a lethal tool of, by and for those unscrupulous elites who never peacefully earn power and prestige but only demand it at the point of a gun. These folks don’t like being reminded of everyday people’s natural right to life and liberty. They assume that if you can blow something up (say a building or a human being) then that “something” never had the right to exist in the first place. “Might makes right” is the slogan these folks utter under their breath.
And finally, there are those good-hearted yet unfortunate souls who once naively assumed the de facto function of the law today was to defend their right to life and liberty only to find out that the law was embodied by a tyrant, a busybody, a mob, a heaping bramble patch of incompetence, or some senseless bureaucratic nightmare. See Franz Kafka’s Josef K as an extreme example of this type. Such sad saps are lost to being reminded of much of anything; once one discovers nightmares while one is still awake, it seems impossible to wake up any further.
Thus, bad faith in the law weighs down the free people of the world. The people forget not only the point and purpose of the law; they forget their sacred freedom in the first place and fall into fighting over status and position in a hell of their own creation. Much like the Satan of Dante’s Inferno, the people are stuck in a wasteland of their own making, a prison of ice that only stays chilly because we refuse to see the folly of our own self-deception. We, the people, continue to flap our immense wings, thinking power, power and more power will be our salvation when it only serves to shackle us further.
So let it be said:
THE LAW is not objective or independent of human nature and human action. The neutrality of the “rule of law” is largely a myth. For more on this controversial position, see Professor John Hasnas’ insights. The law, as understood and shown by Hasnas, does not rule separately and objectively from human interpretation and interests but through an all-too-human, imperfect process of give-and-take in disputes between particular people in particular places, cases and controversies. The messy human element always exists where the law is concerned.
THE LAW is not some benign tool or innocuous guideline for the social engineering of that “big club” some call society. It is always dangerously backed by the threat of lethal force. Even when a human being resists what seems a benign law meant to harmlessly organize society, that person will potentially suffer severe consequences, too often unjustly so.
THE LAW is not the product of some sovereign’s might but a discovery of the good and the true as best ventured by human reason and revealed ancient traditions. Authority does not make law by mere appeal to its authority. Rather, the content of law grants who or what has authority in the first place — and only justly so when done in a limited fashion to protect human life and liberty.
Indeed, THE LAW today is a disordered nightmare and will remain so until we rub the sleep from our eyes, endure the sting of the sun through the blinds and wake up in good faith to our innate freedom as well as our natural limitations when upholding our natural liberties.
Joey Clark is a native Alabamian and currently, the host of the radio program News and Views on News Talk 93.1 FM WACV out of Montgomery, AL M-F 9 am-12 noon. His column appears every Tuesday in 1819 News. To contact Joey for media or speaking appearances as well as any feedback please email email@example.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com.
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