Civilization, with its promises of equal and impartial justice, creates a balance between men. Long-term self-interest mandates that the pursuance of individual betterment not alienate one’s neighbors. One day they may prove imperative to survival. Each person is held in check by fear of righteous vengeance sought by the party they wronged with the help of the state. This fear is aided by the reflexivity of rights, for each man can imagine that the anger he would feel should someone injure him is mirrored by his neighbors who value the same rights. In the same way, the state is held in check by fear of uprising from the people should it wrong them.
The merging of man and state distorts this relationship. Though the instincts of man and ruler may be at odds, the erasure of distinction between the will of man and the power of the state means any one rationale, regardless of its merits, may become unduly powerful. The emotional instincts of primitive man may lead to cruelty and oppression as easily as detached rational decisions which sacrifice one part of the body for the good of the whole. In short, the head-heart dichotomy which, when properly balance, acts as a governor for the soul, is overrun by omnipotence.
Power concentrated in the hands of a central authority, especially one that has an egalitarian duty to provide for corporeal needs- housing, health care, a secure job- cannot be emotionless. It must provide, which means it must derive resources from somewhere and prioritize need, and since it’s a public entity, this means taking from one group in order to provide for another.
Essentially, government is cognizant. It functions as an individual because it has will- to legislate towards a purpose- and the means to take action. It has become a living being.
Now, like any other sentient creature, it is bound and compelled by natural law, the first rule of which is to survive and the second rule of which is to thrive.
Given consciousness and a survival instinct, there is a perverse vein of morality in the destructive ends of the cognizant state. It has a survival instinct, as does any other individual who commits atrocities in the interest of his continuance. But, unlike the individual, the absolute state and those who wield its powers are not limited by corporeal form.
But, for those who run afoul of the judgment of the cognizant state, there is no redress of grievances. There is only power in the executive, legislative and judicial power concentrated in the hands of a biased authoritarian figure whose consciousness- dreams, desires, failings- have been transferred to government’s organs. The legal process in now a sham, a personal tool. The inevitable end result- rapaciousness, death, suffering on a mass scale. Stalinism and Leninism and their evils are not perversions of some greater ideological good; they are the logical conclusion of such a system.
Such a system of absolute power demands the desires and needs of the ruler must necessarily be aligned with the man’s, but the mixing together of political interests and natural philosophy changes both. It creates a political arrangement where the ruler and his exercising of legitimate political rights is indistinguishable from the man’s exercising of his natural rights.
Self-interest becomes the root of law. This is a return to the philosophy of the divine right of kings, where the sanction of an absolute ruler’s whim was the only legal prerogative. There is a perverse sort of morality in this, one based on an institutionalized hierarchical system of justice. The balance of natural law is abrogated because power is enshrined in the will of one man, not held in check by mutual respect for self-interest.
Also published on Medium.