On the Spiritual Nature of a Lawless Society


Column by Vahram G. Diehl.

Exclusive to STR

“Spirituality” is probably the least well-defined word in common English usage, aside from words like “God,” which are usually used in the context of “spirituality.”  When trying to reach fellow human beings on a level deep enough to really capture their interest and sway their reluctance, one cannot neglect the subject that many people hold in the highest of regards.  Thus, it is of paramount importance that we introduce the concept now into the ideological framework of a society based exclusively on voluntary interaction.
We can arbitrarily generalize spirituality to mean a human being's perceived connection with the universe outside of what he perceives to be himself. The nature of comprehension (the goal of science) is necessarily divisive of reality into two categories called “subject” and “object” respectively, with the observer being the subject and the observed being the object.  The subject observer labels, identifies, compares, correlates, interrelates, and associates the given arbitrarily designated object with other objects.
He can either accomplish this natural investigatory process with optimal efficiency and effectiveness via the exclusive use of the scientific method (the simplest and least divisive method), or he can invest infinite lengths of time in trying infinite other methods with no progress except what chance grants him and the illusion of actual achievement.  This is what separates science from pseudo-science. If comprehension divides reality, and spirituality lies in an undivided reality, it then lies in a state of being beyond mental understanding of any one part of reality.
Human societies as we have always known them have also been necessarily divisive.  There has always been some gaining at the loss of others, rulers and ruled, masters and slaves, kings and subjects, etc. So, the most “spiritual” human civilization will be one with the least externally imposed divisiveness, and the greatest amount of interconnectedness. As with the process of coming to any new understanding of reality, when constructing a society we can spend infinite amounts of time attempting an infinite number of unnecessarily divisive methods.  In the end, all our progress will come from the most direct and least divisive approach.
There is a major fundamental intellectual error in thinking that a state of being with absolutely no division can exist.  The scientific laws of physics dictate that some things operate differently than others, that some actions are quite possible while others are most certainly not, and there is no way around it.
With these natural laws as an immutable given, the problem we as human beings with perpetually imperfect comprehensions of them must solve is how we can work with them to our greatest success without unnecessarily complicating the matter or restricting our options further than nature already has with its innate design.  
If we seek interconnection, interrelation, and interdependence as a species and a culture, we seek a mutually spiritual type of existence.  Man-made laws accomplish the same thing that natural laws do: they divide.  They make some things acceptable, and others not.
A scientist understands that his place is to understand the predetermined divisive laws of nature, but never to proclaim them and be the one to make them true.  Yet, every single politicians and rulers of the past and present has had the egomaniacal audacity to attempt this very thing. Unfortunately, most have always fallen for the illusion.   
We must come to understand that even the best intentioned and well-mannered of lawmakers has still only one function to perform: to make laws which divide.  There is no punishment for breaking a natural law; there is no need for any, as if it were possible to break them, they would cease to be laws.  But a man-made law, no matter how seemingly benevolent, progressive, and protective, must be enforced with violence and imprisonment.  
A lawless society like Ayn Rand’s "Galt's Gulch" is not really “lawless.”  It is subject to the same natural divisive laws as the rest of the entirety of the cosmos.  Without any man-made laws ensuring further division, it becomes the most interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent that a group of humans can be in this particular universe.
A society without any degree of political intervention is the optimization of a spiritual society. It is one that is working together at maximum efficiency for mutual attainment of happiness, whatever the individual's subjective concept of happiness may happen to be.


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livefreeretiree's picture
Columns on STR: 13

Gregory helps young people and the older people who have trouble relating to them.
View his website on education and youth coaching here: www.enabledyouth.com
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WhiteIndian's picture

"Human societies as we have always known...always been some gaining at the loss of others, rulers and ruled, masters and slaves, kings and subjects, etc."

That is a common misperception. Elman Service said in his Origins of the State and Civilization, of egalitarian Non-State society:

"Historically, people in non-state societies are relatively autonomous and sovereign. They generate their own subsistence with little or no assistance from outside sources. They bow to no external political leaders."


Also, regarding your equivocation of scientific laws of nature and political laws both "dividing," from what is gravity the ideal gas law dividing you?

The word "law" regarding scientific generalization based upon empirical observation is really an unfortunate misnomer, stemming from the days that most scientists assumed there was a divine "law-giver."

I do agree with you when you write, "A society without any degree of political intervention is the optimization of a spiritual society." Humans had a free society once -- but it wasn't civilization. It was called "The Original Affluent Society." (Sahlins, 1972)

The great non sequitur committed by defenders of city-Statism (Civilization,) is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of a city-State (Civilization.)

Paul's picture

Or, as Edward Abbey called it, "Syphilization".

WhiteIndian's picture

I had not heard that one; it's quite appropriate.

Many writers rage against the State, yet their rants make so much more sense if one replaces "State" with the more complete term city-State, or "Civilization," as follows:

War is just one more big civilization program. – Joseph Sobran

Every decent man is ashamed of the civilization he lives under. – H.L. Mencken

War is the health of Civilization. – Randolph Bourne (1917)
Society in every state is a blessing, but Civilization, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. – Thomas Paine

They forget that Civilization lives at the expense of everyone. – Frédéric Bastiat

For the totalitarian mind, adherence to civilization's propaganda does not suffice: one must display proper enthusiasm while marching in the parade. – Noam Chomsky

A Civilization which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes – will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished. – John Stuart Mill

Civilization is a force incarnate. Worse, it is the silly parading of force. It never seeks to prevail by persuasion. Whenever it thrusts its finger into anything it does so in the most unfriendly way. Its essence is command and compulsion. – Michael Bakunin

Civilizations need armies to protect them from their enslaved and oppressed subjects. – Tolstoy

The leviathan civilization, that monster devouring the earth in this century, is in the throes of death. – Llewellyn H. Rockwell

Civilization can be and has often been in the course of history the main source of mischief and disaster. – Ludwig von Mises

The great non sequitur committed by defenders of Civilization, is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of Civilization. – Murray N. Rothbard

Earth's ecology is a long record of civilization's policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of ecology. – Ludwig von Mises