satanism today and tomorrow

On the Phenomenology of Law

Alex Rozoff


Before the start of any research, one should define clearly: what exactly is the subject to study. When dealing with law as such a subject, we face a really strange situation. Many works on the theory of law exist, but the question of definition of law is still open.

Everybody knows that law is an instrument that regulates the relationships between individuals, organizations, state institutions etc. However, this is where the agreement on what is law ends, and many rivaling concepts begin.

The most common definition of law is something like the following: "Law is a binding custom or practice of a community; a rule or mode of conduct or action that is prescribed or formally recognized as binding by a supreme controlling authority or is made obligatory by a sanction" (The Merriam-Webster dictionary). This definition actually says that any rule or mode of conduct prescribed by a supreme controlling authority is a law, and no other ways to create a law exist. Also, from this definition follows that a sanction from the controlling authority is the only way to enforce the law.

However, the history demonstrates that no legal system can be held by the brute force of the state institutions only. Any law needs to have some degree of recognition and respect in the society in order to be obeyed.

In addition, the modern theory of law postulates the existence of some a priory base for the law, such as human rights and natural rights, which is supposed to exist independently of any acts of the state authorities and to follow from some general philosophical principles, such as social contract, democracy, egalitarianism etc.

Notice that pre-modern societies had their own, different views on the genesis of law and different principles to build the law upon: traditions, religious commandments, caste system, the authority of monarch, etc. These pre-modern principles have also been a basis for a priory legal systems independent of any written laws issued by the state institutions. The fact that the societies based on the Western legal systems prosper now does not mean that no better law, based on different principles, can exist.

Now let's return to the question of the definition of law and approach it from another side. A common alternative definition of law says that law is a system of commonly recognized norms of conduct established by the state authorities as obligatory for everybody. This definition supposes that the people's customs and traditions are the source of any law, while the state only codifies and documents it. It also assumes that the social pressure is the main instrument of law enforcement, while the state power is just a secondary one. From this definition also follows the connection between law and justice. The main weak point of this definition is the fact that it does not consider the possibility for the state authorities to issue laws contrary to the social customs, which is quite common in practice. These laws are first enforced by the state power only, and only later they gain public recognition, since people tend to accept the inevitable as normal.

In order to combine the both definitions into a single one, let's formulate it the following way: “Law is a system of norms of conduct developed by the dominating class of the society and imposed onto everybody with the use of power”. This definition reflects also the fact that law is one of the manifestations of the social hierarchy.

Notice that the state is not mentioned in this definition; this is not accidental. The state as an officially established system of public administration is just one of the possible mechanisms to enforce the interests of the dominant class of the society as a law. History can show us examples of other such mechanisms, but law as an institution of social regulation exists under any model of administration.

However, our definition does not yet cover an important aspect of the practical implementation of law: the ritual. When the state issues a new law, it acts as more than just public administration; it performs the ritual of legislation. In courts, we can also see the ritual of applying the law: all the judicial robes, coats of arms, titles, etc. serve this purpose. As a result, any law, even an irrational one, gains a greater respect among people than just a social norm of conduct could have. Therefore, we have to mention the ritual side as a necessary aspect of law, i.e.: “Law is a system of norms of conduct developed by the dominating class of the society and imposed onto everybody with the use of power and rituals”.

Now, let's make a thought experiment. Imagine a society such that:
1. The laws are obeyed only when the punishment otherwise would be inevitable and greater than any possible gain from their violation.
2. If the laws are obeyed, this is done only formally, just to avoid punishment.
3. When somebody has violated the laws, all his further behavior aims to avoid being caught.
4. Not only private persons, but also state officials behave the aforementioned way.
On the one hand, such behavior is rational (economically profitable) for any individual. On the other hand, it's obvious that no rule of law can exist in such a society. As mentioned before, no legal system can be held by the brute force of the state institutions only.

We can make a conclusion that any stable society needs to have an irrational mechanism of law enforcement, such that violation of laws will mean something more than just disregard of instructions. The same way every religion is more than just beliefs; it has rituals that give a greater meaning to its cult.

We can find many examples of similarity between law and religion:
1. Any established religion has its own interpretation of law, and often also its own law system.
2. The slogans describing religion and law are surprisingly similar.
Religion: “Credo quia absurdum” ("I believe because it is absurd”)
Law: “Fiat justitia et pereat mundus” ("Let justice be done, though the world perish").
I.e. they both agree that even absolutely irrational statements should be undoubtedly respected and carried through.
3. A judge and a priest both pretend to act not on their own behalf, but on behalf of the entity they are assumed to represent (the state or god, respectively). This element of the ritual allows them to feel not being responsible for the things they are doing.
4. Religion and law both can prescribe to do actions that look undoubtedly unethical and destructive for an external observer, such as killing, torturing, vandalizing, etc.. They both too can prohibit whatever that looks natural and beautiful for an external observer: freedom, love, art, etc.. However, from their internal viewpoint this all looks normal and righteous.

This becomes now clear that law is much closer to a religious cult than to any result-oriented practical activity. Any such system provokes a crisis of itself sooner or later, since it's turning from philosophy of talented scholars into business of irresponsible demagogues over time. A similar process went inside the Christian church when it was turning from a catacomb cult into a system of social administration.

All of the above leads to the following unpleasant conclusions:
1. Law is not pragmatic (in the humanist sense). It aims to preservation of itself as a system, not to improving the life conditions of any individual or of humanity as a whole.
2. Law is not adaptable. Like any other dogmatic system, it cannot accept some kinds of changes in the social reality, as well as it cannot go without some of its obsolete parts.
3. Law is not constructive. By its nature, it cannot follow the technological and social progress by developing new methods within its area of application, i.е. in regulation of relationships in the society.

Thus, law in its present meaning is just one of the cults that serve the dominant system of social administration. This system has been ruling for the recent two millennia, and the period of its rule is probably about to end in this century. Instead of nation states, new social structures, built on the corporate, professional, or worldview principle, will dominate in the world. These new structures will surely have their own mechanism for regulating inter-subject relationships. They will probably call it “law” until no better word is invented for it. This is the same way as we call Hammurabi's or Genghis Khan's code “law”, although with our laws they have not more in common than a manual to boiler equipment.

With the current pace of progress, it's likely that in a couple of centuries people will be reading our laws and getting puzzled: “What is this all about? What do all these strange words mean? How could it function (if it functioned at all, which is hard to believe)? And, ultimately, why did they need this all?” They may probably conclude that their ancestors from the early 21st century were a stupid and underdeveloped folk. It's nice to be a stupid and underdeveloped ancestor; the descendants will forgive you for everything.

Translated from Russian by Milchar