Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There is No Honor Among Thieves.

Here is an interesting article on the boundary between law and free choice, where honor and tradition, rather than rules and law, govern one's actions.

Lord Moulton sketches out what he calls the “three great domains of Human Action.” They include the domain of positive law, where our actions are prescribed by laws which must be obeyed. The second domain is of free choice, which includes all those actions to which we claim and enjoy complete freedom. But between these two there is a third large and important domain, which Moulton calls “Obedience to the Unenforceable.” This is “the obedience of a man to that which he cannot be forced to obey. He is the enforcer of the law upon himself.” The true test of a nation, its proof of greatness, is “the extent to which the individuals composing the nation can be trusted to obey self-imposed law.”
 True freedom, then, is founded on a nation, and leaders, that have the morality to act as there own enforcers so that positive law can be kept minimal.

How to train hearts and minds to love the good — how to create social cohesion and a polity which can flourish in the absence of Leviathan — is one of the great questions of political philosophy. It touches on matters of religious faith and education, on habits and hard wiring, on inward sentiments and outward laws.

And so as we continue to debate where to draw the line between governing authority and liberty, those of us who are advocates for greater liberty must complete our argument. Liberty in the absence of a sense of duty and self-control, of manners and morals, is not enough. A free society also needs to engage in the task of shaping young souls.
My favorite part: "Moulton connects the dots in his speech by pointing out that 'If I were asked to define tyranny, I would say it was yielding to the lust of governing.'” This is so true, whether it is the "Nazi" housewife that becomes the president of the homeowner's association to enforce her own version of "aesthetics" on her neighbors, or the president of a nation who loves the perquisites of being a leader without accepting the responsibility.

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