Five Statuses Under Rule Of Law / by Bryce Hidysmith

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While wandering around MAAM with one I. Z. last month, I think I managed to formulate a pretty clear idea of the kinds of statuses that any individual could have in relation to a code of law. We have to begin with the assumption that individuals choose to follow codes of law because they believe in the validity of the code to produce beneficial outcomes, and have thus chosen to have the law code run some of their behavior. This is true even in cases where individuals are compelled to follow the law by force, as the other outcome in their mind is oblivion, and they have not chosen to embrace the potentially suicidal radical freedom of their situation. Of course, there are several other political systems that are not codes of law (although, of course, they could masquerade as codes of law.) Among them are the meritocracy of violence, common law, fascism and other centralized police models, Girardian mimesis, stigmergic blockchainified anarchy, and so on, appearing usually in blended formats.

A law, in the sense that I'm attempting to use it here, is the notion that an action must follow a condition. The water will certainly wet us, the fire will certainly burn, and thus it is most critical to institute policies that build on such natural laws to produce anthropically beneficial outcomes. Such a human generated law should be understood to be a response demanded by a condition, where any other action that that demanded by the condition is to be understood to be illegal, with varying specific punishments defined internally to the code of law as specified recourse against illegal actions. While I will make no claim as to the content of such code of law for the moment, the following statuses only make sense with this invariant and procedural notion of what law is. To accept a law such as this, one accepts the understanding that certain, specific action is demanded of them by specific conditions, and that to not take such action risks dishonor and incoherence of action and thought. One would lose one's community identity if one did not follow this code of law, which is what is usually phrased as dishonor. This sense of honor is, in effect, the knowledge of other parties that one is living up to the standard of the law, and that the identity generated by living up to that standard has subjective value by the community that would otherwise be absent. Law, in this sense, is no so different from a religion or a culture, provided that such a religion or culture actually demands specific actions by its members. The vast majority of these systems are implicit, rather than explicit, for instance I don't think anyone's written down an orthodox text on exactly how to "be macho." However, that illiterate storage mechanism doesn't change the mechanics in play, as the law is still executed with an assumption of common knowledge as to its content. Additionally, it doesn't matter if the entire code of law is stored in any individual who is attempting to act by it—rather obviously laws  could demand a consultation by a judge, shaman, sage, or other superior for a ruling. The five statuses, which I believe to be conditionally exhaustive given this idea of common knowledge of the content of the law, are the following: 

The Enemy: Toxic to the identity that accepts the code as valid behavior. This is to say, this type of organism is either fundamentally parasitic, predatory, or sadistic against the identity that accepts the code of law. This means that those individuals who have chosen the identity of following the law have to understand that these organisms are not only outlaws, but enemies of the law itself by targeting those who have chosen to embrace it for expropration. Because these organisms constitute an existential threat, they would have to be neutralized directly by whatever strategy would render them irrelevant. 

The Silent Majority of the Irrelevant: Relatively self-explanatory. There may be a great mass of organisms that simply do not interact with the citizenry directly enough to demand any specific policy. One of the hard things about defining this population is that if they produce negative externalities to a sufficient degree, they effectively become The Enemy. Provided their aggregate output is sufficiently non-toxic, its safe and indeed ethically mandated to simply ignore them. An interesting note is that the ethical mandate is likely both a self-interested one, and one that recognizes the Irrelevant as moral patients, as it is likely that the Irrelevant are somehow globally relevant, while being locally irrelevant, insofar as they constitute a part of the overall ecosystem that generates the individuals who have chosen to embrace the law-code, and thus disturbing the inputs of that ecosystem is disadvantageous.  

The Trade Partners: There are likely a great many organisms that follow other codes of law (or, in fact, no code of law besides perhaps naked self interest) that members of the law code could easily exchange material with in a mutually beneficial, positive-sum manner. These count as trade partners. The individual under the code of law does not identify with them, but wants good things to happen with them in an abstract way and wants to develop whatever symbioses can be developed as long as they don't undermine the individual's identity or livelihood. The lawful accept a fundamentally alien character of the trade partners, but there is no reason to think that their alien character is offensive or dangerous, just different. 

Children, Invalids, Aspirants: There are of course a great many individuals inside a given community who are not sufficiently responsible for their actions to be considered full citizens under the law, and instead must be considered defendants to the body of Active Citizens. The exact way that they are organized is up for sufficient debate, but it seems likely that there needs to be a distinction between those who are temporarily irresponsible (such as a child or a immigrating convert who has not been sufficiently educated to be able to act within the protocol of laws and understand the implications of all of their actions), and permanently irresponsible (such as those with extreme developmental disabilities). Critically, these are populations that must be given the utmost compassion, as by interfacing with them at all the body of Active Citizens would at least implicitly recognize that they are no longer independent. 

The Active Citizens: Those that share the same code of law and honor as the individual whose perspective we are taking. This is to say, a population who has chosen to take a set of bonds to make themselves more free as a community. Again, the exact nature of these bonds does not need to be specified, but consensus on a given currency, a given health code, collective sponsorship of institutions such as schools or transit networks, the agreement that there should be a method of recourse for those who have been assaulted is an obvious set of starting points for the basic functionality of a liberal community.