“We ‘want’ them broken”

  “You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we know you’d slip sooner or later—and this is just what we wanted.”
  “You seem to be pleased about it.”
  “Don’t I have good reason to be?”
  “But, after all, I did break one of your laws.”
  “Well, what do you think they’re for?”
  Dr. Ferris did not notice the sudden look on Rearden’s face, the look of a man hit by the first vision of that which he had sought to see. Dr. Ferris was past the stage of seeing; he was intent upon delivering the last blows to an animal caught in a trap.
  “Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against—then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

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Comments

  • Sauvik Chakraverti  On December 23, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Very apt quote.

    The solution lies in “private law” – that is, property, contracts and torts – without any “public law” entering our lives. Private law is what we willingly make and follow, like a contract, which is “law” only because 2 private people signed it, and it is binding on them.

    I’d recommend Bruno Leoni’s “Freedom and the Law.”

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 23, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Found it at OLL. Thank you.

    I agree with keeping the government out of everything including (nearly) every ‘crime’. The only question is – how do we get there?

    • Mohit  On October 21, 2009 at 3:37 am

      I haven’t found anyone that answers “how do you get there?”

      Aren’t there are too many vested interests (the Dr. Ferris archetype) for that to happen?

      • Aristotle The Geek  On October 21, 2009 at 3:34 pm

        # “I haven’t found anyone that answers ‘how do you get there?'”
        I think one of the reasons behind it is the open-ended nature of the question. There was a time not too long ago when I believed the whole world should “get there,” which isn’t very probable even on a multi-century timescale. But it is possible on a smaller scale, a few thousand (or hundred thousand) people who are in complete agreement with certain basic principles breaking off to form their own country with its own legal system, maybe by buying land like the Israelites did. There can be no cast iron guarantee that it will work. But its something that can be tried, if not in this century, then in the next.

        # “Aren’t there are too many vested interests (the Dr. Ferris archetype) for that to happen?”
        Ferris is a philosophical problem, one of a world view. The question that comes to mind is, if one believes that good can always triumph over evil, why does it always end up on the losing side? 10 evil men can overpower 90 good men any day (metaphorically) because they can take recourse to actions which the good men will not. Ferris is the man who is in a position to game the system.

        Franklin said about the US Constitution – “Well, you’re going to get a Republic, if you can keep it. But every constitution of this sort has failed since the beginning of time due to the corruption of the people.” A perfect man, one who _never_ makes mistakes, one who _always_ does what he believes is right, one who is _never_ wrong, is an impossibility. We are no longer talking about humans here, but God. But every lapse has its price. A society of people who make the occasional error of judgment, let their desires overpower their considered judgment once in a while, this is what one will probably end up with. The question is, is this sufficient to keep it from collapsing, or is the universe—reality—so unforgiving that a single mistake is more than enough to set off the chain reaction which will leave the ideal society in shambles. That is something which I cannot answer.

  • noonecares  On March 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    drink the hemlock

  • A  On October 22, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    The Free State Project is trying.

  • Funonymous  On June 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Funny how the word ‘privilege’ is etymologically broken down to ‘private law’. Anarchists are far more interesting anti authoritarians than Randroids.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On June 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm

      The etymology, does it necessarily have to be “private” law? Depends on how you interpret privus.

      As for anarchists being interesting, I agree. That’s probably because there are many strains of anarchy. Where else can one find a communist and a capitalist under the same roof, using the same label to describe themselves.

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