The Law

July 26th, 2009  |  Published in Articles, Philosophy

“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

(Frederic Bastiat 1801 -1850)

A moral philosopher called John Rawls attempted to define a just society as follows:

Imagine you were a member of a distinguished council whose task it was to make all the laws for a future society. You are obliged to consider absolutely every detail, because as soon as you have reached an agreement – and everybody has signed – the laws – you will all drop dead.

Immediately everyone will come to life again in the society that you have legislated for. The point is that nobody has an idea which position they will have in society.

Chance is the council would write laws that will make for a just society for all men and women.

  • See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.
  • See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen cannot do without committing a crime.
  • Mankind’s history is one of systematic, arbitrary abuse and control by the elite acting privately, through the church, but mostly through government.
  • Law is justice and should be confined only to suppressing injustice. If law however exceeds its proper limit – that is justice – legislation will become the battlefield for the fantasies and greed of everyone.

Justice in itself is often powerless: what rules by nature is force. Thus the state tries to draw force over on to the side of justice.

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