Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Laws and Hierarchies

Laws and social orders, which are fundamentally structures based on a group of laws, are created with the intent of fostering a more perfect ordering of society than that which came before. This ordering is intended as the institutional manifestation of a vision of justice and harmony, applicable to those considered integral members of society, and the relationships between them. Essential to the construction of any social order is a belief in progress toward ultimate perfectibility, qualified by an acknowledgement that compromises must be made so as to cope with an imperfect, mundane present. The replacement of an old order by a new and greater one represents a recognition by society that an expansion of awareness has occurred, based upon, but also influencing, the progress of human knowledge of what we currently term “the material world.” Such expansion invariably extends legitimacy of societal membership to individuals and relationships previously considered of lesser value, or beneath consideration. Of course, such a linking of social change with technological progress might be termed “materialistic,” but it is rather more accurate to state that such a conception is probably primitive and coarse in comparison to the revisions and re-definitions which will be made in a more enlightened future. All philosophical speculations, including those you are now reading, are to some extent products of the times which bore them, and share in the limitations of current circumstances. Furthermore, the character of the social order qualifies the totality of definition, modifying all meaning in relation to the cosmology of its world view.

The institution of any law or social order creates a hierarchy of seven types of individuals, dependent upon how each relates to the law.

1- “Priests” of the Law – those who promote, define, and enforce the law, and benefit excessively from doing so;
2- Successful Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and escape the consequences doing so;
3- Law Abiders – those who abide by the law, and suffer no consequences from doing so;
4- Punished Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and are punished for doing so;
5- the Wrongly Punished – those who abide by the law, but are punished for breaking it anyway; 6- Excessively Punished Lawbreakers – those who break the law, and are excessively punished for doing so;
7- “Sacrificial Lambs”- those who uphold the spirit of the law, but are excessively punished for breaking it anyway.

It is interesting to note that only two of the seven above categories, the Law Abiders and the Punished Lawbreakers (categories 3 and 4), represent the intended categories of individuals “created” by a given law. Five of the seven categories imply the unjust suffering of either those unjustly or excessively punished, or, in the cases of the excessively rewarded or the unpunished lawbreakers, society as a whole. Hence, the institution of any law, or social order, represents a sacrifice by those who are unjustly victimized by it, including, to some extent, society as a whole.

The hierarchy of these groups can be represented as a diagram in the form of an upright triangle intersected by an inverted triangle, like a Star of David. The three law affirming categories are connected by a line running from the top apex of the upright triangle (the #1 group), through the center of the diagram (the # 3 group) to the bottom apex of the inverted triangle (the # 7 group). This line of law abiders I term the “Aaron’s Rod,” because it connects the priestly elite with the other believers in the law.

The Priestly group is divided into two groups: the theoretical preachers of the Law (at the apex of the upper triangle) and its practical promoters (at the base of the upper triangle). The theorists are the creators of the law, and as such, transcend it. This is not to say that they violate the law, but that, since they define it, the law “abides” by them. The pragmatists are in the somewhat paradoxical position of having to cope with the reality that some degree of lawbreaking will always exist, and that in order to maintain the law, compromises will have to be made with some lawbreakers in order to punish greater ones.

The Law Abiders (group #3) stand at the center of the structure, as they represent the very people for whom the law is ostensibly made, and the group which the institution is ostensibly intended to expand. They are the ideological fulcrum and core which upholds the order, and their obedience to it is essential to its survival.

The Sacrificial Lambs (group #7) represent the most tragic, dynamic, and paradoxical of the seven groups. Like the Excessively Punished Lawbreakers, they are the recipients of exemplary punishment, yet they uphold the spirit of the law at least as much as the Priests. Like the Priests, this group also “transcends” the law, but it does so not as its creator, but from the standpoint of those who are unjustly victimized by its institutional form, and who rail against it as prophets. In effect, they uphold the spirit of the law by opposing the unjust aspects of its institutional manifestation, and they are, in turn, grossly victimized by the vested interests that those unjust aspects represent. The examples of such matyred figures direct attention toward the absurdity and irrelevance of the fomal law or order, by personifying the contradiction between the spirit of the law- the original intent which motivated its creation- and its institutional manifestation.

(c) Copyright 2009 by A. Rogolsky

No comments:

Post a Comment