Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lysander Spooner's "Natural Law"

The writings of Lysander Spooner, a man characterized by one source as "an American individualist anarchist, political philosopher, essayist, pamphlet writer, Unitarian abolitionist, supporter of the labor movement, legal theorist, and entrepreneur of the nineteenth century†", are worthy pursuits for all men with an interest in freedom and the objective principles of human liberty and should make it onto their reading lists. 
Spooner was a man after my own heart in that he had a penchant for getting right to the heart of a matter, explaining and discussing it in direct, clear, and essential language.  This work, "Natural Law", among other things, exposes the fraud that all statutory law represents.

Please enjoy and, until next time, accept my best wishes.




Section I.

The science of mine and thine—the science of justice—is the science of all human rights; of all a man’s rights of person and property; of all his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is the science which alone can tell any man what he can, and cannot, do; what he can, and cannot, have; what he can, and cannot, say, without infringing the rights of any other person.
It is the science of peace; and the only science of peace; since it is the science which alone can tell us on what conditions mankind can live in peace, or ought to live in peace, with each other.
These conditions are simply these: viz., first, that each man shall do, towards every other, all that justice requires him to do; as, for example, that he shall pay his debts, that he shall return borrowed or stolen property to its owner, and that he shall make reparation for any injury he may have done to the person or property of another.

The second condition is, that each man shall abstain from doing, to another, anything which justice forbids him to do; as,  for example, that he shall abstain from committing theft, robbery arson, murder, or any other crime against the person or property of another.

So long as these conditions are fulfilled, men are at peace, and ought to remain at peace, with each other. But when either of these conditions is violated, men are at war. And they must necessarily remain at war until justice is re-established.

Through all time, so far as history informs us, wherever mankind have attempted to live in peace with each other, both the natural instincts, and the collective wisdom of the human race, have acknowledged and prescribed, as an indispensable condition, obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other.
The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man’s legal duty to his fellow men to be simply this: “To live honestly, to hurt no one, to give to every one his due.

This entire maxim is really expressed in the single words, to live honestly; since to live honestly is to hurt no one, and give to every one his due.

Section II.

Man, no doubt, owes many other moral duties to his fellow men; such as to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, protect the defenceless, assist the weak, and enlighten the ignorant. But these are simply moral duties, of which each man must be his own judge, in each particular case, as to whether, and how, and how far, he can, or will, perform them. But of his legal duty—that is, of his duty to live honestly towards his fellow men—his fellow men not only may judge, but, for their own protection, must judge. And, if need be, they may rightfully compel him to perform it. They may do this, acting singly, or in concert. They may do it on the instant, as the necessity arises, or deliberately and systematically, if they prefer to do so, and the exigency will admit of it.

Section III.

Although it is the right of anybody and everybody—of any one man, or set of men, no less than another—to repel injustice, and compel justice, for themselves, and for all who may be wronged, yet to avoid the errors that are liable to result from haste and passion, and that everybody, who desires it, may rest secure in the assurance of protection, without a resort to force, it is evidently desirable that men should associate, so far as they freely and voluntarily can do so, for the maintenance of justice among themselves, and for mutual protection against other wrongdoers. It is also in the highest degree desirable that they should agree upon some plan or system of judicial proceedings, which, in the trial of causes, should secure caution, deliberation, thorough investigation, and, as far as possible, freedom from every influence but the simple desire to do justice.

Yet such associations can be rightful and desirable only in so far as they are purely voluntary. No man can rightfully be coerced into joining one, or supporting one, against his will. His own interest, his own judgment, and his own conscience alone must determine whether he will join this association, or that; or whether he will join any. If he chooses to depend, for the protection of his own rights, solely upon himself, and upon such voluntary assistance as other persons may freely offer to him when the necessity for it arises, he has a perfect right to do so. And this course would be a reasonably safe one for him to follow, so long as he himself should manifest the ordinary readiness of mankind, in like cases, to go to the assistance and defence of injured persons; and should also himself “live honestly, hurt no one, and give to every one his due.” For such a man is reasonably sure of always having friends and defenders enough in case of need, whether he shall have joined any association, or not.

Certainly no man can rightfully be required to join, or support, an association whose protection he does not desire. Nor can any man be reasonably or rightfully expected to join, or support, any association whose plans, or method of proceeding, he does not approve, as likely to accomplish its professed purpose of maintaining justice, and at the same time itself avoid doing injustice. To join, or support, one that would, in his opinion, be inefficient, would be absurd. To join or support one that, in his opinion, would itself do injustice, would be criminal. He must, therefore, be left at the same liberty to join, or not to join, an association for this purpose, as for any other, according as his own interest, discretion, or conscience shall dictate.

An association for mutual protection against injustice is like an association for mutual protection against fire or shipwreck. And there is no more right or reason in compelling any man to join or support one of these associations, against his will, his judgment, or his conscience, than there is in compelling him to join or support any other, whose benefits (if it offer any) he does not want, or whose purposes or methods he does not approve.

Section IV.

No objection can be made to these voluntary associations upon the ground that they would lack that knowledge of justice, as a science, which would be necessary to enable them to maintain justice, and themselves avoid doing injustice. Honesty, justice, natural law, is usually a very plain and simple matter, easily understood by common minds. Those who desire to know what it is, in any particular case, seldom have to go far to find it. It is true, it must be learned, like any other science. But it is also true that it is very easily learned. Although as illimitable in its applications as the infinite relations and dealings of men with each other, it is, nevertheless, made up of a few simple elementary principles, of the truth and justice of which every ordinary mind has an almost intuitive perception. And almost all men have the same perceptions of what constitutes justice, or of what justice requires, when they understand alike the facts from which their inferences are to be drawn.

Men living in contact with each other, and having intercourse together, cannot avoid learning natural law, to a very great extent, even if they would. The dealings of men with men, their separate possessions and their individual wants, and the disposition of every man to demand, and insist upon, whatever he believes to be his due, and to resent and resist all invasions of what he believes to be his rights, are continually forcing upon their minds the questions, Is this act just? or is it unjust? Is this thing mine? or is it his? And these are questions of natural law; questions which, in regard to the great mass of cases, are answered alike by the human mind everywhere.*

Children learn the fundamental principles of natural law at a very early age. Thus they very early understand that one child must not, without just cause, strike, or otherwise hurt, another; that one child must not assume any arbitrary control or domination over another; that one child must not, either by force, deceit, or stealth, obtain possession of anything that belongs to another; that if one child commits any of these wrongs against another, it is not only the right of the injured child to resist, and, if need be, punish the wrongdoer, and compel him to make reparation, but that it is also the right, and the moral duty, of all other children, and all other persons, to assist the injured party in defending his rights, and redressing his wrongs. These are fundamental principles of natural law, which govern the most important transactions of man with man. Yet children learn them earlier than they learn that three and three are six, or five and five ten. Their childish plays, even, could not be carried on without a constant regard to them; and it is equally impossible for persons of any age to live together in peace on any other conditions.

It would be no extravagance to say that, in most cases, if not in all, mankind at large, young and old, learn this natural law long before they have learned the meanings of the words by which we describe it. In truth, it would be impossible to make them understand the real meanings of the words, if they did not first understand the nature of the thing itself. To make them under stand the meanings of the words justice and injustice, before knowing the nature of the things themselves, would be as impossible as it would be to make them understand the meanings of the words heat and cold, wet and dry, light and darkness, white and black, one and two, before knowing the nature of the things themselves. Men necessarily must know sentiments and ideas, no less than material things, before they can know the meanings of the words by which we describe them.


Section I.

If justice be not a natural principle, it is no principle at all. If it be not a natural principle, there is no such thing as justice. If it be not a natural principle, all that men have ever said or written about it, from time immemorial, has been said and written about that which had no existence. If it be not a natural principle, all the appeals for justice that have ever been heard, and all the struggles for justice that have ever been witnessed, have been appeals and struggles for a mere fantasy, a vagary of the imagination, and not for a reality.

If justice be not a natural principle, then there is no such thing as injustice; and all the crimes of which the world has been the scene, have been no crimes at all; but only simple events, like the falling of the rain, or the setting of the sun; events of which the victims had no more reason to complain than they had to complain of the running of the streams, or the growth of vegetation.

If justice be not a natural principle, governments (so-called) have no more right or reason to take cognizance of it, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance of it, than they have to take cognizance, or to pretend or profess to take cognizance, of any other nonentity; and all their professions of establishing justice, or of maintaining justice, or of regarding justice, are simply the mere gibberish of fools, or the frauds of imposters.

But if justice be a natural principle, then it is necessarily an immutable one; and can no more be changed—by any power inferior to that which established it—than can the law of gravitation, the laws of light, the principles of mathematics, or any other natural law or principle whatever; and all attempts or assumptions, on the part of any man or body of men—whether calling themselves governments, or by any other name—to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion, in the place of justice, as a rule of conduct for any human being, are as much an absurdity, an usurpation, and a tyranny, as would be their attempts to set up their own commands, wills, pleasure, or discretion in the place of any and all the physical, mental, and moral laws of the universe.

Section II.

If there be any such principle as justice, it is, of necessity, a natural principle; and, as such, it is a matter of science, to be learned and applied like any other science. And to talk of either adding to, or taking from, it, by legislation, is just as false, absurd, and ridiculous as it would be to talk of adding to, or taking from, mathematics, chemistry, or any other science, by legislation.

Section III.

If there be in nature such a principle as justice, nothing can be added to, or taken from, its supreme authority by all the legislation of which the entire human race united are capable. And all the attempts of the human race, or of any portion of it, to add to, or take from, the supreme authority of justice, in any case whatever, is of no more obligation upon any single human being than is the idle wind.

Section IV.

If there be such a principle as justice, or natural law, it is the principle, or law, that tells us what rights were given to every human being at his birth; what rights are, therefore, inherent in him as a human being, necessarily remain with him during life; and, however capable of being trampled upon, are incapable of being blotted out, extinguished, annihilated, or separated or eliminated from his nature as a human being, or deprived of their inherent authority or obligation.

On the other hand, if there be no such principle as justice, or natural law, then every human being came into the world utterly destitute of rights; and coming into the world destitute of rights, he must necessarily forever remain so. For if no one brings any rights with him into the world, clearly no one can ever have any rights of his own, or give any to another. And the consequence would be that mankind could never have any rights; and for them to talk of any such things as their rights, would be to talk of things that never had, never will have, and never can have an existence.

Section V.

If there be such a natural principle as justice, it is necessarily the highest, and consequently the only and universal, law for all those matters to which it is naturally applicable. And, consequently, all human legislation is simply and always an assumption of authority and dominion, where no right of authority or dominion exists. It is, therefore, simply and always an intrusion, an absurdity, an usurpation, and a crime.

On the other hand, if there be no such natural principle as justice, there can be no such thing as injustice. If there be no such natural principle as honesty, there can be no such thing as dishonesty; and no possible act of either force or fraud, committed by one man against the person or property of another, can be said to be unjust or dishonest; or be complained of, or prohibited, or punished as such. In short, if there be no such principle as justice, there can be no such acts as crimes; and all the professions of governments, so called, that they exist, either in whole or in part, for the punishment or prevention of crimes, are professions that they exist for the punishment or prevention of what never existed, nor ever can exist. Such professions are therefore confessions that, so far as crimes are concerned, governments have no occasion to exist; that there is nothing for them to do, and that there is nothing that they can do. They are confessions that the governments exist for the punishment and prevention of acts that are, in their nature, simple impossibilities.

Section VI.

If there be in nature such a principle as justice, such a principle as honesty, such principles as we describe by the words mine and thine, such principles as men’s natural rights of person and property, then we have an immutable and universal law; a law that we can learn, as we learn any other science; a law that is paramount to, and excludes, every thing that conflicts with it; a law that tells us what is just and what is unjust, what is honest and what is dishonest, what things are mine and what things are thine, what are my rights of person and property and what are your rights of person and property, and where is the boundary between each and all of my rights of person and property and each and all of your rights of person and property. And this law is the paramount law, and the same law, over all the world, at all times, and for all peoples; and will be the same paramount and only law, at all times, and for all peoples, so long as man shall live upon the earth.

But if, on the other hand, there be in nature no such principle as justice, no such principle as honesty, no such principle as men’s natural rights of person or property, then all such words as justice and injustice, honesty and dishonesty, all such words as mine and thine, all words that signify that one thing is one man’s property and that another thing is another man’s property, all words that are used to describe men’s natural rights of person or property, all such words as are used to describe injuries and crimes, should be struck out of all human languages as having no meanings; and it should be declared, at once and forever, that the greatest force and the greatest frauds, for the time being, are the supreme and only laws for governing the relations of men with each other; and that, from henceforth, all persons and combinations of persons—those that call themselves governments, as well as all others—are to be left free to practice upon each other all the force, and all the fraud, of which they are capable.

Section VII.

If there be no such science as justice, there can be no science of government; and all the rapacity and violence, by which, in all ages and nations, a few confederated villains have obtained the mastery over the rest of mankind, reduced them to poverty and slavery, and established what they called governments to keep them in subjection, have been as legitimate examples of government as any that the world is ever to see.

Section VIII.

If there be in nature such a principle as justice, it is necessarily the only political principle there ever was, or ever will be. All the other so-called political principles, which men are in the habit of inventing, are not principles at all. They are either the mere conceits of simpletons, who imagine they have discovered something better than truth, and justice, and universal law; or they are mere devices and pretences, to which selfish and knavish men resort as means to get fame, and power, and money.


Section I.

Natural law, natural justice, being a principle that is naturally applicable and adequate to the rightful settlement of every possible controversy that can arise among men; being, too, the only standard by which any controversy whatever, between man and man, can be rightfully settled; being a principle whose protection every man demands for himself, whether he is willing to accord it to others, or not; being also an immutable principle, one that is always and everywhere the same, in all ages and nations; being self-evidently necessary in all times and places; being so entirely impartial and equitable towards all; so indispensable to the peace of mankind everywhere; so vital to the safety and welfare of every human being; being, too, so easily learned, so generally known, and so easily maintained by such voluntary associations as all honest men can readily and rightfully form for that purpose—being such a principle as this, these questions arise, viz.: Why is it that it does not universally, or well nigh universally, prevail? Why is it that it has not, ages ago, been established throughout the world as the one only law that any man, or all men, could rightfully be compelled to obey? Why is it that any human being ever conceived that anything so self-evidently superfluous, false, absurd, and atrocious as all legislation necessarily must be, could be of any use to mankind, or have any place in human affairs?

Section II.

The answer is, that through all historic times, wherever any people have advanced beyond the savage state, and have learned to increase their means of subsistence by the cultivation of the soil, a greater or less number of them have associated and organized themselves as robbers, to plunder and enslave all others, who had either accumulated any property that could be seized, or had shown, by their labor, that they could be made to contribute to the support or pleasure of those who should enslave them.

These bands of robbers, small in number at first, have increased their power by uniting with each other, inventing warlike weapons, disciplining themselves, and perfecting their organizations as military forces, and dividing their plunder (including their captives) among themselves, either in such proportions as have been previously agreed on, or in such as their leaders (always desirous to increase the number of their followers) should prescribe.
The success of these bands of robbers was an easy thing, for the reason that those whom they plundered and enslaved were comparatively defenceless; being scattered thinly over the country; engaged wholly in trying, by rude implements and heavy labor, to extort a subsistence from the soil; having no weapons of war, other than sticks and stones; having no military discipline or organization, and no means of concentrating their forces, or acting in concert, when suddenly attacked. Under these circumstances, the only alternative left them for saving even their lives, or the lives of their families, was to yield up not only the crops they had gathered, and the lands they had cultivated, but themselves and their families also as slaves.
Thenceforth their fate was, as slaves, to cultivate for others the lands they had before cultivated for themselves. Being driven constantly to their labor, wealth slowly increased; but all went into the hands of their tyrants.

These tyrants, living solely on plunder, and on the labor of their slaves, and applying all their energies to the seizure of still more plunder, and the enslavement of still other defenceless persons; increasing, too, their numbers, perfecting their organizations, and multiplying their weapons of war, they extend their conquests until, in order to hold what they have already got, it becomes necessary for them to act systematically, and co operate with each other in holding their slaves in subjection.

But all this they can do only by establishing what they call a government, and making what they call laws.

All the great governments of the world—those now existing, as well as those that have passed away—have been of this character. They have been mere bands of robbers, who have associated for purposes of plunder, conquest, and the enslavement of their fellow men. And their laws, as they have called them, have been only such agreements as they have found it necessary to enter into, in order to maintain their organizations, and act together in plundering and enslaving others, and in securing to each his agreed share of the spoils.

All these laws have had no more real obligation than have the agreements which brigands, bandits, and pirates find it necessary to enter into with each other, for the more successful accomplishment of their crimes, and the more peaceable division of their spoils.

Thus substantially all the legislation of the world has had its origin in the desires of one class of persons to plunder and enslave others, and hold them as property.

Section III.

In process of time, the robber, or slave holding, class—who had seized all the lands, and held all the means of creating wealth—began to discover that the easiest mode of managing their slaves, and making them profitable, was not for each slaveholder to hold his specified number of slaves, as he had done before, and as he would hold so many cattle, but to give them so much liberty as would throw upon themselves (the slaves) the responsibility of their own subsistence, and yet compel them to sell their labor to the land-holding class—their former owners—for just what the latter might choose to give them.

Of course, these liberated slaves, as some have erroneously called them, having no lands, or other property, and no means of obtaining an independent subsistence, had no alternative—to save themselves from starvation—but to sell their labor to the landholders, in exchange only for the coarsest necessaries of life; not always for so much even as that.

These liberated slaves, as they were called, were now scarcely less slaves than they were before. Their means of subsistence were perhaps even more precarious than when each had his own owner, who had an interest to preserve his life. They were liable, at the caprice or interest of the land-holders, to be thrown out of home, employment, and the opportunity of even earning a subsistence by their labor. They were, therefore, in large numbers, driven to the necessity of begging, stealing, or starving; and became, of course, dangerous to the property and quiet of their late masters.

The consequence was, that these late owners found it necessary, for their own safety and the safety of their property, to organize themselves more perfectly as a government, and make laws for keeping these dangerous people in subjection; that is, laws fixing the prices at which they should be compelled to labor, and also prescribing fearful punishments, even death itself, for such thefts and trespasses as they were driven to commit, as their only means of saving themselves from starvation.

These laws have continued in force for hundreds, and, in some countries, for thousands of years; and are in force to-day, in greater or less severity, in nearly all the countries on the globe.

The purpose and effect of these laws have been to maintain, in the hands of the robber, or slave holding class, a monopoly of all lands, and, as far as possible, of all other means of creating wealth; and thus to keep the great body of laborers in such a state of poverty and dependence, as would compel them to sell their labor to their tyrants for the lowest prices at which life could be sustained.

The result of all this is, that the little wealth there is in the world is all in the hands of a few—that is, in the hands of the law-making, slave-holding class; who are now as much slave-holders in spirit as they ever were, but who accomplish their purposes by means of the laws they make for keeping the laborers in subjection and dependence, instead of each one’s owning his individual slaves as so many chattels.

Thus the whole business of legislation, which has now grown to such gigantic proportions, had its origin in the conspiracies, which have always existed among the few, for the purpose of holding the many in subjection, and extorting from them their labor, and all the profits of their labor.

And the real motives and spirit which lie at the foundation of all legislation—notwithstanding all the pretences and disguises by which they attempt to hide themselves—are the same to-day as they always have been. The whole purpose of this legislation is simply to keep one class of men in subordination and servitude to another.

Section IV.

What, then, is legislation? It is an assumption by one man, or body of men, of absolute, irresponsible dominion over all other men whom they can subject to their power. It is the assumption by one man, or body of men, of a right to subject all other men to their will and their service. It is the assumption by one man, or body of men, of a right to abolish outright all the natural rights, all the natural liberty of all other men; to make all other men their slaves; to arbitrarily dictate to all other men what they may, and may not, do; what they may, and may not, have; what they may, and may not, be. It is, in short, the assumption of a right to banish the principle of human rights, the principle of justice itself, from off the earth, and set up their own personal will, pleasure, and interest in its place. All this, and nothing less, is involved in the very idea that there can be any such thing as human legislation that is obligatory upon those upon whom it is imposed.

Sir William Jones, an English judge in India, and one of the most learned judges that ever lived, learned in Asiatic as well as European law, says: “It is pleasing to remark the similarity, or, rather, the identity, of those conclusions which pure, unbiassed reason, in all ages and nations, seldom fails to draw, in such juridical inquiries as are not fettered and manacled by positive institutions.”—Jones on Bailments, 133.

He means here to say that, when no law his been made in violation of justice, judicial tribunals, “in all ages and nations,” have “seldom” failed to agree as to what justice is.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Law

"Law" is everywhere in this modern world, and yet I find that people have little to no understanding of what, exactly, it is beyond some vague notion that it must be obeyed no matter what.

Indeed, it has appeared to me that even most lawyers have no explicit knowledge of what law actually is, or should be.  Rather, their knowledge rests mainly in procedure and precedent.  Knowing what purported "laws" say and how to use them in the various forms of professional procedures is not the same as understanding the normative definition of "law".

It is furthermore worthy to note that, so far as I have been able to discern, even the various law dictionaries miss the mark in how they define "law", a fact I find most disturbing, as should all men of sound mind and character.

For instance, the Oxford Dictionary of Law defines "law" as follows:

"law n. 

1. The enforceable body of rules that govern any society. See also COMMON LAW; NATURAL LAW. 

2. One of the rules making up the body of law, such as an *Act of Parliament."

Note the absence of substantive meaning conveyed by this definition.  "Enforceable body of rules": enforceable by whom and by what non-arbitrary authority?  There is far more amiss with definitions such as this one, and we will address those inadequacies shortly.

Meanwhile, and unfortunately, the definition of "common law" provides no help:

common law 

1. The part of English law based on rules developed by the royal courts during the first three centuries after the Norman Conquest (1066) as a system applicable to the whole country, as opposed to local customs.

2. Rules of law developed by the courts as opposed to those created by statute. 

3. A general system of law deriving exclusively from court decisions."

Note how these definitions, thus far, describe positive facts only, failing to give us a normative specification that includes the irreducible and principled basis for its construction and acceptance as valid and universally applicable.  A properly constructed normative definition of "law" is the only one that matters, for such a definition should in essence demonstrate the principle upon which law derives its just authority.  More on that later.

Black's Law Dictionary fails similarly:

"LAW. That which is laid down, ordained, or established. A rule or method according to which phenomena or actions co-exist or follow each other. That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens, subject to sanctions or legal consequences, is a "law." Koenig v. Flynn, 258 N.Y. 292, 179 N. E"

Note again how it speaks to the positive rather than the normative.  As with the others, it shows no superiority to the arbitrary and makes no case as to why it must be obeyed, but only that it must be on pain of sanction.

Black's does, however, appear to  touch, however lightly, on a deeper character of law, but goes into no effort to elaborate:

"The earliest notion of law was not an enumeration of a principle, but a judgment in a particular case. When pro-nounced in the early ages, by a king, it was assumed to be the result of direct divine inspiration. Afterwards came the notion of a custom which a judgment affirms, or pun- ishes its breach. In the outset, however, the only authoritative statement of right and wrong is a judicial sentence rendered after the fact has occurred. It does not presuppose a law to have been violated, but is enacted for the first time by a higher form into the judge's mind at the moment of adjudication."

Sadly, my suspicion here is that "principle" is being misused such that the arbitrary will of a legislature is being wholly confused with non-arbitrary principle.  This, of course, is a catastrophic error, and yet it makes perfect sense that those in the "legal profession" would accept it because it serves the purposes of those in corrupted political power far more satisfyingly that would any adherence to actual and immutable principle that would better serve even justice for all.  The former affords lawmakers and top-level employers of law (mostly governmental officials) virtually limit-free prerogative to churn out whatever body of outrage-du-jour, whereas the latter stands to tightly restrict and narrow their avenues of legislative, administrative, and enforcement latitude.

Continuing,'s law dictionary defines "law" as follows:

"law n.

1) any system of regulations to govern the conduct of the people of a community, society or nation, in response to the need for regularity, consistency and justice based upon collective human experience.

2) n. a statute, ordinance or regulation enacted by the legislative branch of a government and signed into law, or in some nations created by decree without any democratic process. This is distinguished from "natural law," which is not based on statute, but on alleged common understanding of what is right and proper (often based on moral and religious precepts as well as common understanding of fairness and justice). 3) n. a generic term for any body of regulations for conduct, including specialized rules (military law), moral conduct under various religions and for organizations, usually called "bylaws.""

Once again, the definition fails to satisfy the central valid purpose of law, which is to codify principled truths that apply to all men.  The opening words, "any system", are most troubling, implying that arbitrariness is not an issue with which one ought concern himself, save perhaps that it be employed to one's benefit at the possible detriment of all others.

Note the reference to "Natural Law", which at least hints at principled bases.'s law dictionary offers nothing substantively different:

"body of rules of conduct of binding legal force and effect, prescribed, recognized, and enforced by controlling authority.
In U.S. law, the word law refers to any rule that if broken subjects a party to criminal punishment or civil liability. Laws in theUnited States are made by federal, state, and local legislatures, judges, the president, state governors, and administrative agencies."

As we see, this also suffers the selfsame deficiencies.

The only relief I have thus far found lies in the definitions of Bouvier's Law Dictionary of 1856 vintage:

"LAW. In its most general and comprehensive sense, law signifies a rule of action; and this term is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action; whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. 1 Bl. Com. 38. In its more confined sense, law denotes the rule, not of actions in general, but of human action or conduct.

2. Law is generally divided into four principle classes, namely; Natural law, the law of nations, public law, and private or civil law. When considered in relation to its origin, it is statute law or common law. When examined as to its different systems it is divided into civil law, common law, canon law. When applied to objects, it is civil, criminal, or penal. It is also divided into natural law and positive law. Into written law, lex scripta; and unwritten law, lex non scripta. Into law merchant, martial law, municipal law, and foreign law. When considered as to their duration, laws are immutable and arbitrary or positive; when as their effect, they are prospective and retrospective. These will be separately considered."

At least Bouvier's honestly and competently recognizes that "law" as practiced is every bit as likely to be arbitrary and irrational as it is to be otherwise.

Bouvier's goes on:

"LAW, ARBITRARY. An arbitrary law is one made by the legislator simply because he wills it, and is not founded in the nature of things; such law, for example, as the tariff law, which may be high or low. This term is used in opposition to immutable."

Note the reference to immutability.  Anything called "law" should be immutable, otherwise it is not law.  Natural Law bears this quality, which is perhaps a main reason it is discredited by the corrupt and ignorant who peddle unpublished agendas to the unwitting, who would otherwise also be the unwilling.

Why do we refer to the "law of gravity", or the "laws of physics"?  We do so because they are, for all practical purposes, immutable.  There is no changing or eliminating gravity or the ways in which matter and energy behave.  We must, perforce, deal with these aspects of reality on their terms, and not our own.  While there may be many ways to coax matter and energy to do things in what seems to us an artificial manner, we are nonetheless operating upon them by their rules, and not our own.  The principles by which matter, energy, and gravity operate are effectively immutable.

So it must be with "law", and here I shall distinguish what we shall come to know as "real law" v. "false law" (see Arbitrary Law, above) by capitalizing the noun.  Therefore, "Law" shall mean proper, actual, provable law; law as nearly no man understands it and the legal institutions of the world would have it never be understood.

Before proceeding, it perhaps serves us well to look at one more law definition, once again from Bouvier's:

"LAW, CANON. The canon law is a body of Roman ecclesiastical law, relative to such matters as that church either has or pretends to have the proper jurisdiction over:

2. This is compiled from the opinions of the ancient Latin fathers, the decrees of general councils, and the decretal epistles and bulls of the holy see."

It is of value to note the reference to pretense here.  It is further noteworthy that the reference to pretense is not quite so explicitly applied to other governing bodies such as those of nation-states as exampled by America, Great Britain, and so forth.  The definition of "Arbitrary Law" only speaks to the object of the definition, offering no real world examples or cites for which law dictionaries appear to be otherwise so painfully generous.

What, Then, Is Law?

If the law dictionaries are getting it wrong, and I insist that they are, what then would a proper definition of "law" look like?  That is to say, how does one properly define "Law"?

For starters, let us list what law is not: Law cannot be arbitrary.  Arbitrary law is mere statute, decree, fiat, etc., which in turn is nothing more authoritative than an expression of the capricious will of one man over that of another, thereby dictating that some behavior shall now be required of people, or prohibited of them.  Mere statute has no demonstrable validity, and therefore no force of Law.  Unfortunately, it almost universally does have the force of armed men who appear to hold precious small compunction to enforce such caprice upon the people of whose rights they have sworn an oath to protect.  There is great irony in this; sad, dangerous irony that destroys all that is good between men.

If law is to be Law, it must be non-arbitrary, which further implies that it must be based in valid principle.  Otherwise, it is by definition arbitrary and, therefore not Law.

There is, by the way, an analog to this, however loose it may be.  A "contract", in order to exist, must meet six criteria, each or which may be validly seen as a principle of sorts, or at least an analog to principle in the sense that they are clearly defined.  To wit, a contract must have the following elements present:
  1. Offer
  2. Acceptance
  3. Capacity
  4. Intent
  5. Consideration
  6. Lawfulness
The first two simply say that someone must be making some sort of an offer to another and that the other must accept it in the absence of coercion.

"Capacity" refers to one's mental and physical capacities to responsibly and capably enter into the agreement and discharge the duties and obligations, as well as reap the benefits, set forth and embodied therein.

"Intent" refers to the non-coerced intention of all parties to enter into the relations that the contract stands to establish between them by mutual agreement.

"Consideration" is comprised of the list of those things to be exchanged between the parties as the substantive benefits of the agreement.  It is worthwhile to note that all parties must receive consideration and that, generally speaking, the mutual considerations must be deemed as at least roughly equivalent.  An agreement where only one party receives consideration cannot be a contract, but is naught more than a mere and lop-sided obligation of one man in servitude to another.  The lawfulness of such agreements appears to sit in some serious question in many jurisdictions.

"Lawfulness" means that the considerations of the agreement must accord with Law.  For example, I may not contract with another man to have my neighbor murdered.  That would be unLawful.

The point here is that "contract" has a more or less rigorous definition that is narrow and clear; certainly far more so than the various definitions of "law" as are commonly known.  Furthermore, it is declarative in voice, saying "this is what must be."  It is a specification for a structure such that all candidates for contract status are, at least in theory, readily judged for validity.  In practice, of course, there are those rare cases where the elements are of such a nature that unusual and often thorny questions arise, requiring the attention of particularly adept experts in the practice of contract law.  It may be fact that these sorts of outlier cases cannot be entirely avoided.  We can, however, apply our good wits pursuant to contriving a definition that greatly narrows the possibilities for injustices, accidental or otherwise.

By this definition, any agreement that fails to carry all six of these elements within its structure is decidedly not a contract, but rather something else.

And so it must be with Law.  "Law" must specify the super-normative requirements of its own constitution.  Law must be defined in such a way that any man of marginal intellect may look at it and be able to determine whether something put before him as Law is, in fact, Law.  This is the key characteristic and requirement that is so conveniently missing in all of the definitions I have seen to date, and apparently has been since the first days of man's law, with few exceptions.

One of those exceptions may be English Common Law.  However, I have become familiar with several potentially and mutually exclusive views on Common Law.  The definition as given above makes no mention of such immutable principles, and yet in other places, I have read about such.  My understanding, such as it may be, is that under Common Law there are three basic principles to which all men must comport themselves in good accord.  To wit:

  1. Do no unjust harm
  2. Be good for your word
  3. Make whole that which you damage without rightful authority
My understanding of this is that these are the principles upon which all Common Law is based and that the remainder is nothing other than the case law as the application of the practical application of these principles.  I suspect there is likely more to it that just this, certainly today with the British Pariliament churning out statute in the manner of Otto von Bismarck's fabled sausages, where he is quoted as having said, "Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made."  The quote is often misattributed to Mark Twain.

Other than this somewhat questionable example, I can think of no other body of national law that founds upon immutable principle insofar as the specification of what constitutes actual Law.  I reiterate my opinion that this is not the case as the result of the mere happenstance of unfortunate oversight by those entrusted to define, create, and enact "law".  Very much the opposite: men are well proven to covet political power over their fellows.  A loosey-goosey definition of "law" offers such men the widest possible latitude to churn out and enact their arbitrary impulses, which serves the interest of their lusts far more faithfully than a definition that any man would be able to apply in determination of whether that which has been declared is in fact valid and in possession of the force of principle.

This brings us to the heart of the matter: a set of specifications that, taken as a whole, defines the qualities and characteristics of Law in terms that are both clear, correct, and complete.  Anything less than this must be rejected by all good men of sound mind and character and who treasure that which is right above the wrong, and who treasure their rights, and the freedoms born into them, as well as the justice that derives from the proper relations between them.

Law, n.

a rule of action applicable to all men to compel or prohibit behavior, constructed in accord with the following specifications and caveats:

  1. It must never diminish, restrict, limit, disparage, or otherwise violate the fundamental rights of men in any manner or degree whatsoever, regardless of purport of necessity, or claim to authority
  2. If addressing a crime, there must be a provably valid specification of the victim's constitution given as justification and basis for the rule
  3. it must be based upon at least one immutable and provenly valid principle of proper human relations
  4. It must be linguistically constructed so as not be subject to variations in interpretation.  What it meant yesterday, it means today and shall mean tomorrow in perpetuity.
  5. A Law must be demonstrably clear
  6. A Law must be provably correct
  7. A Law must be complete as to applicability
Caveat of nonseverability: absence of any of these requirements renders the rule as mere and invalid statute, and thereby devoid of any force of Law. Any attempt at the enactment of such an invalid corpus is by this definition false and by that virtue may any man ignore the dictates and prohibitions with no obligation to submit to any act of enforcement. Any such reprisals may be met with force sufficient to remove the threat, up to and including deadly force in the cases where the threats presented are of such a nature and degree that their results may include bodily injury, death, or immediate loss of physical freedom through any or several avenues including but not limited to physical apprehension and subsequent kidnapping by anyone purporting to enforce such non-Law.

Caveat of applicability: Law validly applies only to the degree to, and the manner in which, it is complete and sufficiently specific to its stated purpose and the principles it defends.

Note how this architecture for Law provides at least the beginnings of a framework for objective criteria for its construction and proofing.  As with contracts, it makes explicit the requirement of all elements in order for a Law to in fact exist and that absence of any single required component renders the rule as statute and therefore, non-Law, void of any force or effect.  It further explicitly recognizes  a man's fundamental and inborn right as a Freeman to defend himself against enforcement of such invalid statutory declarations by whatever means necessary, up to and including killing those attempting to impose them upon him.

Example of a valid Law

Here, I contrive a hypothetical Law against murder.  Note how immediately and intuitively evident such a law tends to be, precisely because they find their deepest roots in accord with our most basic humanity, as well as reason and logic.

Prohibition against Murder

Any man taking from another his life without just cause shall be guilty of the crime of murder.  Just cause for the taking of life includes:

  1. Defense of property against trespass or other unjust violation
  2. As a matter of contract between taker and he from whom life is taken
  3. Under circumstances of dire emergency where injury, the resulting suffering, and no reasonable prospect for recovery render killing of injured parties as a gift of mercy in the face of unbearable agony and, likely, inevitable death.

Basis:  All Men are equally endowed with Life.  Born into each Man is the inner drive to preserve and perpetuate his Life, which constitutes the materially observable manifestation of each Man's innate Claim to Life, also known as his Right to Life.

A Man's life is, therefore, his unalienable Property in all contexts where his actions pose no immediate existential threat, or an immediate threat of great destruction or other harm to the Life or other Property of another because, beyond such circumstances, no Man may take from another that which is demonstrably the rightful Property of the other.  

Contrary to what any other principle or aspect of Law may otherwise assert, a Man's immediate inability to defend his Claim to Life renders no nullity upon said Claim.

Murder is a crime with a perpetrator and one or more victims.  The perpetrator is he who takes life without the just causes as have been herein defined.  A Victim is one whose life has been taken from him by a perpetrator.

For the purposes of this Law, the following definitions shall apply:

  1. Property
  2. Claim
  3. Right
  4. Crime
  5. ...

This, of course, is a good representative case of a Law Mala In Sé.  Let us now test to see whether this specification rises to the standard of Law.

  1. It is explicit in its protections of all Rights of Men
  2. Addresses a crime, and defines both perpetrator and victim
  3. The valid Principles of Proper Human Relations are cited, though in practice would have to be referenced more explicitly and explanations given as to how and why the Law in question defends the principles so cited.
  4. The semantic structure is clear, with explicit definitions of terms provided
  5. The Law is without any ambiguity that I can readily detect, given the eventual and proper fleshing out of all the specifications.
  6. While not proven, it appears at first blush to be on good track toward meeting the standard
  7. It would seem likely to pass this smell test.
While I have failed to put this specification through the complete program of rigor for the sake of the mercy of brevity to you, the reader, I am confident that it either meets the standard, or would so meet it with only minor modification.

Example of Invalid Specification Resulting in Non-Law

Prohibition against possession, use, and sale of Cannabis Sativa

Anyone found to be in possession of cannabis sativa shall be guilty of a capital crime and shall be sentenced to death.

Clearly this specification fails to rise to the standard of Law.  It is a clear case of a law mala prohibita, which is by that virtue not Law.  That potential argument aside, let us go through the list:

  1. It fails to establish a non-arbitrary basis for the prohibition
  2. It fails to establish a crime, much less a valid victim
  3. There is no principle, valid or otherwise, to which any reference direct or oblique in evidence
  4. Semantics are clear enough
  5. The specification is ambiguous as it fails to make explicit the meaning of "possession"
  6. Not apparently valid
  7. Appears valid on this point,
Furthermore, it fails to meet the standard of the Caveat of Applicability as it is far too broadly expressed.

This example is, of course, one of a glaring nature, chosen for the purpose of providing a clear representation of non-Law.  In reality, non-Law is at times likely to be far more subtle in its failings, which is all the more the reason for having a rigorous definition of "Law" that includes such a checklist by which candidate bills could be readily judged as to whether they meet the standard.


This general specification for Law as presented here is likely not complete and correct; but if not,  I believe it is close.  

It is, in any event, a good and necessary start not only toward bringing men finally into the possession of a proper definition and specification standard for Law, but also as an instrument of generating awareness of the need for such an objective standard. 

Such a standard promises to meet with vigorous opposition in circles of political power, for it would bind the hands of legislators in ways they are certain to find greatly objectionable.  It might meet similar, if less violent opposition from other quarters, practitioners of Law (or law) included.

False-law has become one of the most pervasive and dangerous scams in existence.  It purports to protect the freedoms of men, while in point of fact it does more to deny and demolish the rights of men than any other nameable factor in our lives.

Take it in and let it roll around in the back of your thoughts awhile.  The propriety of this idea should resonate with all freedom-minded men.  Imagine a nation where legislators were greatly or even wholly limited in their powers to step on the rights of those whose rights they swore to uphold and protect.  That is the potential of this idea.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.