October 26, 2017 by John Bruce Leonard
The Atheistic State, Part II
The Law of Man
THE LAW OF THE GODS takes its legitimacy from its divine origin; it is the law handed down by the gods or the sons of gods or the students of gods. The laws of men take their legitimacy from their “utility” alone.
Here it might be interjected that the law of man ideally takes its legitimacy, not from its utility, but from its justice. But immediately arises the perennial problem of democracy. Justice means giving to each human being what is fitting to him: suum eius is the principle of justice, and this toward the end of virtue, of perfecting human excellence in those human beings who are capable of such perfection. But very few human beings are capable even of determining or recognizing human virtue, much less attaining it. The law of justice, or the just law of man, is that law which works toward the fulfillment of each according to his potential. And, as the many can only be fulfilled partially, the just law aims at the total fulfillment of the few alone.
To see that this is justice requires exceptional vision—sight which is not endowed to the many, and particularly in democratic times. The many, insofar as they live in a society given over to the sway of the many, hold that fulfillment can be attained by any and all. The potential for fulfillment, in other words, does not imply virtue, but is the birthright of Everyman. To the many, true justice therefore takes precisely the appearance of rank injustice.
Because this tendency is born from the ignorance innate to the many, it cannot be supplemented by knowledge. For the ignorance in question is not due to lacunae in education, nor to a wont of proper “information”; it is due to restrictions congenital to most human beings which lead them to esteem and indeed reify that which is most like them—i.e., the common—and to take this as the norm and the standard, as indeed is natural for any living being to do. “Enlightenment,” in this respect, is impossible, because one treats not of quantity (knowledge, information, data, facts, etc.) but of quality (rank, capacity, inner level of being). This most natural human limitation can be manipulated, but never corrected, for precisely the same reason that the intellectuals in any epoch are few, the philosophers rare, and the sages nigh unique. Not “education,” but dogma, religion, myth, rite, ritual, are the sole means for properly aligning the common heart toward something approximating reverence for, or at least awe and fear for, human perfection, the humanly attainable heights. Human law, to be just, has need of divine support; this alone can bring the masses to see in justice anything other than injustice.
What then does secular justice become when it is pulled exclusively by that gravity which the many, as all things massy, necessarily exert? But it is clear that it must transform into “justice” as embodied in those laws which favor the concerns and the interests of Everyman as Everyman—that is to say, those purely material interests which form for most human beings the very substance and “prima materia” of life, whenever no higher law is present to educate these interests. And the material interests of most human beings means, practically speaking, that which benefits them “economically”—food, money, goods, properties, jobs, toys, trinkets, luxuries, etc. The secular law, the law of man, is the law which treats man most thoroughly as an undifferentiated animal, and therefore which most slavishly obeys that which is bestial in him. It is fundamentally utilitarian.
More—the secular law, even should it begin otherwise, always tends toward, indeed always finishes in, “democracy.” This because the many, without the influence of the divine law, necessarily cede to what is base in them, which is the preponderant part and potency of their souls. Then their force as many—the KRATOS DEMOU—comes to the fore and takes its gross prerogatives on the social and political scene. The weight of such a society inevitably shifts downward, until it settles at that point where the main interests of the many have their being: in base and carnal pleasures, in thoroughly materialistic aims and desires, in pig-like wallowing in the appetites. Sic semper popolo. This becomes, and remains, the center of gravity for the whole of society, until the unbalanced force of everything which revolves around it finally breaks its orbit, spinning free and dislodging the entire system. And at that point a rapid disintegration follows, as the many fragmented pieces of the demos reassemble and crystallize around or beneath any number of emergent powers. Then and then alone is it possible to overcome the brute material force of the secular state, but only at great peril to the whole.
The secular law is utilitarian law, but this means it is weak as law. All democracies, and indeed all secular orders, depend decisively on the reverence for law which proceeds from such epochs as do not discriminate between law and divine law; and all democracies last only so long as this accumulated quantum of non-secular reverence is permitted to last. As it declines, it is replaced by natural calculation on the part of those to whom the law seems but one of several means for serving their material interest and individual “well-being.” Insofar as the law fails to secure or improve this interest, this “well-being,” it is therefore held to be a broken tool; it is not law at all. There is no reason to obey it then, no reason not to seek out more effective means, though these be illicit or immoral.
In such times, one might attempt to defend the law with higher-order pragmatic arguments, claiming for instance that if the law is not generally obeyed, the end result is corruption and social decay. But this kind of plebeian Kantianism already presupposes a certain capacity for disinterested intellectation which the materialistic secular society tends strongly to debilitate. Most human beings, while they are capable of perceiving the logic in such reasoning, are yet more capable of perceiving the countless instances in which this logic represents but a sophisticated attempt on the part of extant powers to defend their own interest. And upon arriving at such a realization, it would be the fool who did not accordingly look after his own welfare, even if that should mean infringing some putative morality or legality whose sanctions he risks only if he is found out. As for the rest—if the law is merely utilitarian, then there is nothing wrong with merely disregarding such laws as fail to promote material improvement.
The secular state is thus a grand education for sly and shifty citizens, and encourages them to be ready to abandon their “social duty” at the first sign of its failure to recompense them properly for their loyalty; and the old Enlightenment dictum that no democratic society can exist without a corresponding level of universal education reveals itself for the vain and farcical pipedream it is.
For here in truth is the innermost quality of law as law: every law is but so many words scribed on so much paper, or chiseled into so much stone. The famed “spirit of the laws” is a figment, at best the residual ghost of deceased non-secular civilizations, at worst an utterly hollow pretense. The spirit of the law, if that spirit is to be real and effective, is granted by something beyond the law itself: it is blood, or ethocal spirit, or soil, which births the spirit of the law. Ultimately, either a tyrant or a god or the both united in one is the true father of the law. Either fear or awe is at the core of the spirit of the law—spirit, that is to say, by which the law is obeyed, not by the best members of any society, who are capable of nobility and a non-venal loyalty, faith, and duty, but rather by Everyman. It is one of the most offensive pretenses of the secular democratic state that its own system should be somehow exempt from this universal human condition. In truth, democratic society, too, is ruled by a “tyrant or a god”: or better say, by the corresponding corruption of these figures. Thus, the decadent tyrant in democracy is the scientistic bureaucratic “deep state,” and its decayed and monstrous deities are technology and wealth. The god of the “secular state” is in all cases the god of materialism.