Law and Anarchy

If our ability to form judgments is limited, then how are we to formulate any action at all? One way is to simply agree to abide by rules, in the form of laws. As a society, we agree to try something, and continue that course until it is obvious that it isn't working, and then formulate something else.

Lawful personalities support the attitude that a surrender of freedom is necessary to sustain the social order, and therefore protect the commonwealth. They believe in codification because it ensures avenues to sanction unlawful activity. For that reason, laws establish a social context that constrains harmful behavior.

Unfortunately, the wheels of the legal process turn very slowly. This is because the state becomes the arbiter of social interaction. If the power of the state is not constrained, the privileged are left with a tool to trample on the rights of the common citizen. Secondly, no change can be made to laws without threatening to make existing conduct illegal. At the very least, a period of grace must be provided so that affected parties can modify their conduct to comply with new standards.

For this reason, the legal process tends to fail in periods of great social change. Examples from recent American history are the Civil Rights movement, the Great Depression, and the Vietnam War. The legal process simply cannot move fast enough to keep up with events.

The legal process also fails in daily interaction. The state does not know individuals. It is capable only of defining its practices with people in broad categories. If it tried to adapt to each individual, it would end up employing everybody to make life work for all. This is the extreme vision of socialist intervention, and the communist system as implemented in practice.