Following on from a previous article on democracy & law (LINK), let’s have a look at the failure of law makers & enforcers to live up to their own principles. This is not a defence of the legal system, as a more competent civilisation would have developed a vastly better system; it is merely pointing out how the system is supposed to function.
The problem at hand is the issue of Tort, and how this creates the difference between criminal & civil offences.
Tort means damages, so Tort Law refers to the idea that if your actions are the cause of damage to another, then you’re responsible to that person for such damages … this does not necessarily imply a crime, merely that you were responsible.
Hence Criminal Law is inherently connected to Tort Law, as without damages then there can be no crime.
Criminal Law is then divided into:
- Misdemeanours – limited consequences (not too serious);
- Felony – serious consequences.
But here’s the key: if damage was done, but the intent to cause harm did not exist, then no crime has been committed, unless your actions constitute negligence, reckless endangerment, or some other exception to the rule.
A complaint between you & the state, not of itself a crime.
For example: traffic violations.
Damages, Punishment & Fines:
So Damages, Punishment and Fines are Tort, Criminal & Civil Law remediations respectively:
- If you cause Tort, you pay damages;
- If you commit a Civil offence, you’ll mostly just pay a fine;
- If you commit a Criminal offence, you’ll probably go to gaol (just to confuse the Americans and anyone under 40).
Now … I’m an anarchist so I’m no fan of the idea of bowing down to someone else’s rules, especially if I don’t agree with those rules … BUT … when even the people who do believe in them and are supposed to uphold those laws, don’t seem to understand the better parts of them, thus applying & enforcing them incorrectly … well, that I have even less respect for.
The problem – well, one of a great many problems anyway – is where Civil Law gets treated like Criminal Law.
Let me give you a specific example:
- Roads have speed laws, where an arbitrary speed limit is determined;
- Defenders of this practice will argue that such limits are determined by engineers;
- Defenders will argue that it’s thus proven unsafe to drive beyond those speed limits;
- Thus their only basis in law to make such a case, is to argue that your actions constitute reckless endangerment, and thus qualify as exemption from the Tort requirement of Criminal Law.
Did you get that?
In other words: IF you were speeding, but no accident happened, and no damage occurred, but you were pulled over nonetheless for breaking the speed limit … THEN no Tort has occurred, so they can only prove you’ve committed a crime by arguing the reckless endangerment exemption; otherwise all they have is an arbitrary civil offence on its own, and which on its own constitutes a breach of your Common Law rights, and is thus an invalid case against you.
HOWEVER: what actual evidence do they have that your behaviour constitutes any reckless endangerment?
- Did they test your driving skills?
- Did the do a mathematical calculation of trajectories?
- Did they do an on the spot forensic investigation of the road surface, your tyres, brakes, suspension & gearbox?
- Did they have video evidence of an actual road hazard which they could conclusively connect to all of the above, to argue the case that an accident was highly probable if not inevitable?
Of course not … because it has nothing to do with any of that, its revenue raising & nothing else in most cases.
Most importantly it’s unlawful and a breach of your rights.
Open Empire on Law:
Open Empire is inherently anarchic, so if the world was governed by its principles, the situation would be different though similar to the correct interpretation of law I’ve alluded to … but more accurately like this:
- There’s no laws;
- There’s no “authority”;
- There’s no police;
- BUT you are responsible for the consequences of your actions;
- THEREFORE if someone saw you behaving in a manner that constitutes reckless endangerment, they could gather evidence against you;
- People might choose to specialise in the investigation of such behaviour for the benefit of society;
- Such specialists could be presented with such evidence collected;
- Specialists would work with others to investigate such claims;
- False claims would unlikely be made, since there is no gain but potential loss;
- Mistaken claims may occur, but this happens already anyway;
- If evidence mounts, the response would be proportional to the consequences of failing to act;
- The burden of responsibility for the deleterious consequences of acting could be shared by the community affected;
- The benefit of responsibility for the beneficial consequences of acting could be shared by those who take action;
- Thus the community are motivated to take care of each other, and not allow anyone to get so psychologically fucked up that they become reckless & a danger to the community & themselves;
- But where such precautions fail, the specialists can investigate & clean up.
There exists no downside to the above hypothetical scenario which does not already occur under the status quo, but the reverse can not be said in defence of the status quo. Such a proposal removes the need for a corruptible police force, removes the corrupt revenue raising of local and state governments (aside from the fact they no longer exist) … AND arguably isn’t an issue in the first place, because Open Empire doesn’t encourage rampant consumerism or force people into indentured slavery (aka “work”), so there’d be less people on the roads in the first place, no one would be in a hurry, car quality would be universally better, and driving skills would be higher too.