Social Chaos—Part II
How To Kill a Society
In the first part of this series, I used the example of a shopping mall to demonstrate how enforced order limits chaos, the very chaos resulting from the individual freedom necessary to the productive, wealth and happiness seeking activity that makes a mall successful.
The results of enforced order are the same for all societies; but there is an important difference between government enforced order and that imposed by private organizations, such as a mall. The management of a mall might impose certain rules and standards that effect both the businesses and shoppers that use the Mall. They might do it to attract a certain segment of the market, willing to accept a small loss in number of sales for the sake of more efficiency resulting in more profitability. Whatever their reasons, the one thing they cannot do is force anyone to conform to their rules beyond refusing to let non-conformer's use their Mall. No one is required to shop at their mall if they do not want to conform to their rules.
Government order is imposed by force and is imposed on everyone—the name for order imposed by force is law. Laws are by their very nature oppressive, always limiting the very individual freedom necessary to a creative, successful, society. The social engineers attempting to impose order on what appears to them chaos, always harm, limit, and destroy whatever good they touch.
Social engineers never produce anything, they only take over what others have produced. They do not invent anything, but once something is invented they know exactly how it must be used and regulated; they do not create anything themselves, but once something is created, they are sure they know how it ought to be distributed and managed; they never start or run a business but know how others ought to run theirs; they don't know the difference between a bacterium and a bactrian, but know exactly how drugs invented and manufactured by others ought to be regulated. It does not occur to these regulators and bureaucrats, who do not have the brain power to understand the sciences, technology, medicine, or finances that make inventions, industries, medicines and businesses possible, that the very disorder which terrifies them is the disorder of their own minds which are unable to grasp the complexity of chaotic order, such as a shopping mall, much less a free and prosperous society. What they see as disorder is their own limited comprehension, narrowness of view, and shortness of sight. The solution to the disorder they perceive, which is entirely in their own minds, is to impose laws on society that will make it more "orderly." But the order imposed by law is always destructive.
Equal Under the Law
All laws treat everyone the same, at least everyone under the law—those who make and enforce laws frequently exempt themselves. At first blush, this equal treatment under the law may sound like a good thing, even a right thing. After all, if there is going to be law and order, it is only fair that everyone be held to the same standards.
Equality under the law is not good, not right, and certainly not fair. Because we are human beings we share certain common attributes and requirements. We all must eat, drink, and have generally the same kind of physiological requirements. We are all volitional beings, we all must have knowledge and we all must work to produce (or mooch off those who do). Beyond that, everybody is different.
There are no two people who are exactly alike, not even identical twins raised in identical environments. The number and scope of those differences is infinite. Everyone has different abilities, different interests and desires, different goals and purposes, different requirements for success, and different problems.
All Laws Always "Unfair"
Most people, even the most socialistic of post-modernist college professors would understand that a law that dictated the size and content of everyone's meals, and treated everyone equally under that law, that is, dictated the same meals for everyone, would be grossly unjust, unfair, and evil. Yet this is exactly what all laws do, in much more subtle and therefore dangerous and destructive ways.
Because no two people learn in the same way or at the same rate or even need to learn the same things, laws that required everyone to attend state schools with a dictated curriculum forcing the same academic meal on them all is grossly unjust (and won't work). If dictated curriculum is right for any child, it is wrong for all rest, who either will not be able to keep up, or are bored to tears being held back. In the end, orderly education under the law always fails. The American educational system is a stark example of that failure.
It must fail because any system that forces people to conform to the same order, whether meals or education, or dress, or any other behavior, no matter how much artificially "flexible" it is, it interferes with the essential requirement for all human success, individual freedom of choice; because every individual is different and no one can know what is best for any individual better than the individual.
Since every law that treats all individuals the same must restrict the freedom of individuals to choose what is best for them, except for some infinitesimal minority that just might find the "legally" defined standard fits them, the law is unfair to everyone except that possible minority. It is certainly more orderly for everyone to eat the same thing and learn the same thing, and the same amount in the same way, but it is cruelly unfair and oppressive.
All legally imposed standards have the same result. Pay standards, like minimum wage laws, prevent those who would choose to do some jobs for some pay outside the prescribed range from doing the work that is right for them. Hourly standards and overtime standards prevent those who are eager to work more or less hours for whatever pay is offered from choosing the work that is best for them.
Laws Limit Competence and Ability
Every law is a limit on the range of choices, and scope of activities open to individuals, but only those who are capable of making the choices the laws prevent or doing those things that regulations restrict are oppressed by those laws. It is not the drivers terrified by their own ineptness or too stupid to know what a safe speed is who are restricted by speed laws, it is the driver who is perfectly capable of determining what speed is safe and of handling any speed he chooses who is restricted by speed laws.
The millions of "safety" laws for industry, business, and construction are designed to protect those so stupid they must be told to wear a safety helmet, to not stand in pool of water when connecting electric lines, and not to taste the chemicals going into the paint. Such laws only get in the way of the competent, who don't need elaborate procedures foisted on them that inhibit everything they do.
Those laws that dictate what one must buy, what kind of insurance and how much, (think automobiles), what kind of safety equipment, (think helmets, life preservers, hard hats, safety glasses), what kind of fixtures for one's house (think smoke alarms, low flush toilets), are designed for the incompetent who have no idea how to live their lives. The competent who are perfectly capable of living their own lives without the guidance of bureaucrats are oppressed by such laws, their effort is wasted learning what the laws are and their time stolen to prove to an army of inspectors that they have complied with them. Since all such laws are designed to be conformed with, the imaginative and creative of those who could and would discover new and novel ways of accomplishing the things such laws regulate are thwarted.
The competent, who are perfectly capable of determining what drugs and medicines they need and of determining when they need the advice of a doctor are forced to pay a doctor to write a prescription for every useful drug they would buy—their time and money wasted because some people might poison or kill themselves.
Laws Limit Creativity, Productivity, and True Diversity
Perhaps the most repressive and destructive aspect of law is its supposed "equality." The imposition of standards of behavior, practice, work, safety, compensation, and health by law removes from society all those innovative and original ideas that are automatically ruled out by those laws.
In The Autonomist's Notebook under
Social Relationships I said, "People mistakenly think the "politically correct" concept of "diversity" being shoved down the gullets of the gullible is a recognition of the essential differences in people. In fact, it is just the opposite. By emphasizing nonessential differences in people, like physical characteristics, cultural preferences, and sexual practices, the essential differences like intelligence, character, integrity, accomplishment, and ability are obfuscated."
Such essential diversity is not only obfuscated, it is virtually repressed by the laws that treat everyone equally, eliminating from society the very "chaotic" (unexpected, unplanned, irregular, and different) activities that result in new services and products that create wealth and enrich a society.
One of the greatest restrictions to creative diversity is licensing. Laws restricting individuals to government prescribed "acceptable" practices, including doctors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, beauticians, and barbers, eliminate anyone with novel or creative ways of doing anything regulated by licensing. Supposedly meant is a kind of protection from quacks and incompetents, licensing is actually a kind of government monopoly, protecting the jobs of those who manage to get government sanctioning, often the least competent, while barring all those who might bring real originality and creativity to a licensed field.
Laws Waste Resources
As destructive as prohibitory laws are, the totally unforgivable laws are those that steal people's time and resources, by forcing people to do what they would otherwise not do, nor should do. How many hours are stolen from individuals filling out forms, getting permits, requesting permission, to do things they could otherwise do without ever harming anyone else.
In this country you virtually cannot live without paying for and obtaining from the government a birth certificate, social security card, a drivers license, and car registration. If you do almost any kind of business you must have endless permits, and solicit certificates guaranteeing sanitation, proper access, fire code compliance, and endless other pieces of paper and bureaucratic permissions.
If you own property you cannot use it without getting permits and inspections for almost anything you choose to do. You may not be able to use it at all if some law has declared it a protected swamp or some other obscene environmental nonsense.
To live people must act, and will act according to their best judgment. All laws that govern what one must do, or must comply with, if they want to use their own property or their own resources, force people to do things there is no purpose in doing, except to meet some fiat law or bureaucratic ruling, wasting their time and resources, and stealing that much of their life from them.
Laws Discourage Adventure and Achievement
Everything involves some risk and usually the greater the prize, the greater the risk. No one is required to take risks they are not willing to take, but many are willing to take risks others are not willing to take, because they know how to prepare for those risks and are willing to pay the price if necessary, in order to achieve what cannot otherwise be achieved.
Everything in a society that is regulated by laws to limit risk, limits the kind of achievement that cannot otherwise be accomplished. There is no telling how much research, how many manufacturing methods, how many tools and machines, or what new medical procedures will never see the light of day, because of the limits government imposed "safety" regulations have imposed, eliminating the kind of risky procedures required by such research.
For those whose imagination and ambitions do not rise above a job, a home, television in the evening, and the weekend cookout, the laws restricting individual practices "for people's own good," are no restriction.
For the adventurous, imaginative, the creative risk takers, such laws take away the whole meaning of life. Life, for the individualist, consists of what he does, not what happens to him. The laws that govern what he must wear (motorcycle helmets, seatbelts) what he can ingest (alcohol and drugs) what and how he can enjoy himself, turn life into a dull existence with no purpose, a mere drudgery without the relief of the kind of adventure and activity he needs to make life worth living. The removal of pleasures—whether others think they are harmful or not—is enough, for some, to make the effort to live so unrewarding a life is simply not worth it.
Order that Kills
Certainly laws produce a kind of order, the kind of order that can only be enjoyed by the unimaginative, fearful, comfort-seeking, unadventurous, dull, and ignorant majority. It is the kind of order that kills the imagination, stifles ambition, thwarts all originality and creativity—it is the order of death, quiet and undisturbed by the chaos of men living fully and freely as human beings. It is the kind of order that kills the best of men and destroys the best of societies.