Ruler or Ruled

Is humanity naturally authoritarian, or is it a learned behavior? Are we more inclined to accept authority now than we used to be? These are the things that I wonder while I’m reading Thomas Aquinas’, “Summa Theologica”.

“Whether it was useful for laws to be framed by men?”

“But men are more induced to be good willingly by means of admonitions, than against their will by laws. Therefore there was no need to frame laws.”

“On the contrary, Isidore says ‘Laws were made so that in fear of them human audacity might be held in check, that innocence might be safeguarded in the midst of wickedness, and that the dread of punishment might prevent the wicked from doing harm.’ But these things are must necessary to mankind. Therefore it was necessary that human laws should be made.”

This is exactly what my son and friend were arguing about yesterday. He says anarchy is possible. She says it’s crazy, mankind would destroy itself if we didn’t submit to a ruler.

Aquinas is saying that some people will not leave others in peace, so we must make laws so that they will live in fear of punishment and behave. So a man that would hurt another, be shunned by his fellow man, risk being killed himself in an anarchic society, for being a thief or otherwise disagreeable; this same man will behave for fear of being punished by law? I don’t think so. You’re only making life more difficult for everyone else. The real bad guys will do it anyway. And now you’ve created a class of people (people that also have the tendency to be jerks) that are allowed and expected by the population to rule over the rest of us. It just doesn’t make any sense, unless you believe there is a class of people with better sense, a group of people that can’t be jerks because they have either evolved into better humans or have been chosen by God to rule over the less than desirable general population.

And then I ask my friend, which one do you believe? That God has chosen our leaders or that one group has evolved? And then I ask, which end are you on? The rulers or the ruled?


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