The Summary of the Law is the Sine Qua Non of Society Per Se

The Summary of the Law is composed of two Great Commandments that both take the form “thou shalt:”

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

Notice then that in the Decalogue, there are only two commandments that are likewise prescriptive:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

Honour thy father and thy mother … (Exodus 20:12)

These four prescriptives are related. Those of Exodus are corollary elaborations of those given by Jesus as the foundation of all law. Thus:

  1. Love God, for he who is supreme deserves no less than your supreme loyalty; so, therefore: Keep holy and lively his Cult; preserve its doctrines and faithfully observe its observances, such as the sabbath, rituals, fasts and feasts, and so forth.
  2. Love your fellow as if he were a human being like you, or there’ll be hell to pay; so, therefore: Honor your parents; likewise ergo the things that they honor: keep and honor your kin, and your patrimony.

If you are not doing these things, you have no society. If you don’t agree about First Things, you’ll have a hell of a time reaching completely harmonious and pacific agreement about anything else, including how people ought to treat each other; and if you don’t agree about that, you won’t care about keeping a patrimonial tradition; so that you won’t have a perdurant culture, or therefore a robust and durable people. No cult, no culture; no culture, no nation.

These basic prescriptive commandments are then the fundamental ordinations undergirding any social order whatever. They are the *most* categorical commandments. Proscriptives of any sort must supervene upon them. One must after all do something or other in order then to do it defectively. One must do society in the first place in order then to have a shot at doing society well, or failing thereat. So the prescriptives subvene and logically precede the proscriptives.

If you are following these basic prescriptives, and so have a society, only then do you have even an opportunity to commit a crime against society: to bear false witness, covet, steal, and so forth. No society, no crime against society.

In the absence of society, lying, coveting, stealing, and the like are not crimes to begin with. They are, rather, prudent ways to survive in a Hobbesian war of all against all, that characterizes the maximum of the defect ↔ defect game phase. In defection, it is simply stupid to proceed other than by defecting at every turn.

Peoples that are falling into defection because they disagree about First Things or have lost or attenuated their familiar loyalties are ceasing to be social. They are what are called nowadays “low trust.” They are heading toward no trust.

As an agglomeration of people approaches the zero of society it is hard to know what to call them. They are not then much properly social, or political, but rather the antitheses of society and polity. In them, everyone is enemies with everyone else. They do not cohere coordinately; they are not groups.


Defect ↔ defect is robustly stable, for – except under conditions of pervasive cooperation wherein defections are severely penalized – defection is the lowest risk, least path. As the maximum of social entropy, it is the stablest thermodynamic equilibrium (death is of course stablest of all).

Pervasive defection is vulnerable to supersession by some greater degree of cooperation only in virtue of familiar relations, that are by Nature high trust and altruistic: profect ↔ profect. Families can be the seeds of a pervasive profection; are its foundation and last redoubt. Families have a shot at resisting invasion or perversion by an environment of defection, and at fostering profective communities that can grow.

Thus the crucial importance of honoring parents. Filial piety entails honoring siblings, and their spouses and children. It entails honoring all your kin. On that basis, only, can a generally profective society be built. Profection is an artifact of kinship. This then also demonstrates the crucial importance of the nation; which is to say, of a set of people bound to each other by blood; by shared genetic heritage. Within such a nation, profection can be superdurable, and such nations can be difficult to conquer.

Profective societies are however vulnerable to defection either by enemies or by psychopathologies. Defection is enormously profitable in a context of prevalent profection. To compensate for the risk posed by the hazard of that temptation, the penalty for defection in profective societies must be severe; it must be substantially greater than the profits available to defectors. So durable profection requires dire, ruthless, relentless law enforcement, and terrifyingly, famously lethal military capacity.

In profection, paying forward makes sense. Capital investment of any sort, deferral of gratification, savings, planning, study, science, history, scholarship, lawfulness, fair dealing, honesty, social welfare programs, charitable enterprises, disaster relief, insurance, forestry, industry, good husbandry, estates, trusts, endowments and inheritances, covenants and compacts, and all the other things that are needed for prosperity – these are all profective moves, and can pay off with good risk/return profiles only in profective societies. Ditto a fortiori for monogamous marriage and large, long term investment in children.

Coordination of large groups depends upon profection. Indeed, contracts as such rely upon profection, and on the preponderant enforcement of contracts by profective governors. So, then, does military effectiveness. The phalanx is an exercise of brotherhood, and of fealty. So likewise is the ship’s company, the chivalric order, the platoon, the army.

Writing is profective. Buildings are profective. Roads and walls are profective. These all are gifts to the people of the future, and wagers upon their virtues.

Hierarchy is profective, for authority is profectively granted to the noble by the base, and the relation thus engendered is of loyalty: of mutual trust. Defection tends to egality, and to a flattening of the social order; thus, to desuetude of loyalties.

Profection then typifies the familiar society, that is prevalently charitable and magnanimous. The Second Great Commandment – the Golden Rule – is a succinct, precise, and complete definition of the profective attitude.

Profection is a far from equilibrium strange attractor. It is highly ordered, and ordering. It progenerates civilization, and the compounding thereof in a virtuous feedback circuit. It is a local maximum of social order.

In defection, on the other hand, paying forward in any way is madness. In defection, it makes no sense to do favors, to accumulate assets, to build fences, to terrace and irrigate fields, to maintain forests, or to keep waters clean. In defection, there is no way to rely upon any future other than defection, or therefore to wager upon or invest in it.

The Marxist analysis of society as in every aspect a struggle for power makes sense only on the presupposition that society is fundamentally and incorrigibly defective. In defection, the struggle for power is all that remains. Defection is all that the defective mind can see. So the Marxian mind sees all profective moves as veiled defections. Only defective minds – minds themselves immured in the strategy of defection – could find this account of human life convincing.

This is why Social Justice Warriors always project, and why they then always lie. The egalitarian abhorrence of any concentrations of virtue, and the egalitarian attacks upon excellence or beauty of any sort, and the egalitarian promotion of ugliness, perversion and “transgression,” are defensive moves of defective minds against anticipated defection by those whom they can well see are more virtuous, ergo – so long as profection prevails – more successful and powerful. Defectors think everyone is a defector more or less like them, and thus incipiently dangerous; or else stupid chumps, deluded marks, fitting victims who deserve their comeuppances, ostracisms, persecutions. Seeing excellence, they see threats. So are they ever afraid, and angry, and convinced that they are themselves the persecuted.

Defection : profection :: r : K :: high time preference : low time preference.

There is coevolution of genes with culture. Defection selects for defection, and breeds defectors; profection selects for profection, and breeds profectors.

Defection is at war with profection, because it doesn’t iterate well in competition with profection. In prevalently profective societies, crime doesn’t pay. Tit for Tat makes defection zero sum, whereas it makes profection positive sum. So defection tries to undermine profective society. The more defective society becomes, the fewer the risks and costs of defection.

So defection takes particular aim at the family, which is the seed of the profective society, and wherein the profective strategy has the highest payoff; and at the patrimonial cult, that consecrates profective familiar relations, explains and teaches the familiar values.

In a profective society, defection arises from some psychopathology respecting either the family or the cult – one sort of psychopathology being highly correlated with the other.

Defectors are generally miserable.

Defection is the preferred strategy of those who cannot (tell how they might) gain much by profection, as compared with their adversaries. It is preferred by those who are, in a word, relatively speaking, losers: weak, or dim, or emotionally bent.

Profection is always under threat from defectors who imagine it threatens them, when in fact it is the host of their parasitism. As ordered animal bodies need immune systems, so maintenance and defence of profection therefore requires strict, stern, swift enforcement of moral and legal rules, and of borders, language, and culture. Sovereigns then must rule with an iron hand (howsoever velvety its glove) if they are long to reign. For the profective society, relaxation of rule or lassitude either moral or energetic on the part of the sovereign is death by a thousand cuts. It is suicide; policide. Politicians who fail to enforce Tit for Tat are themselves criminals; defectors; traitors to the patrimonial cult. They have lost the Mandate of Heaven, because they have either rejected Heaven outright, or else fallen short in their duty of strict observance of its rites.

When the captain cannot himself keep his head, the phalanx crumbles. Then, it is every man for himself, in no man’s land; and woe betide the women and children.


Hat tip: this post is the record and elaboration of a terrific brainstorm prompted by my participation in the comment thread of a post at Zippy’s site, and in particular by this comment by Zippy.


22 thoughts on “The Summary of the Law is the Sine Qua Non of Society Per Se

  1. Pingback: The Summary of the Law is the Sine Qua Non of Society Per Se | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: The Summary of the Law is the Sine Qua Non of Society Per Se | Reaction Times

  3. Excerpted from a comment at Zippy’s:

    Mallory Millet, former commie:

    It was 1969. Kate invited me to join her for a gathering at the home of her friend, Lila Karp. They called the assemblage a “consciousness-raising-group,” a typical communist exercise, something practiced in Maoist China. We gathered at a large table as the chairperson opened the meeting with a back-and-forth recitation, like a litany, a type of prayer done in Catholic Church. But now, it was Marxism, the Church of the Left, mimicking religious practice:

    “Why are we here today?” she asked.
    “To make revolution,” they answered.

    Universities are training grounds
    for the womens liberation movement.

    “What kind of revolution?” she replied.
    “The Cultural Revolution,” they chanted.
    “And how do we make Cultural Revolution?” she demanded.
    “By destroying the American family!” they answered.
    “How do we destroy the family?” she came back.
    “By destroying the American Patriarch,” they cried exuberantly.
    “And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?” she replied.
    “By taking away his power!”
    “How do we do that?”
    “By destroying monogamy!” they shouted.
    “How can we destroy monogamy?”

    Their answer left me dumbstruck, breathless, disbelieving my ears. Was I on planet earth? Who were these people?

    “By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution and homosexuality!” they resounded.

      • Solomon’s Book of Proverbs is a manual for the young, to instruct them in the ways of profection, that they may prosper; and in the ways of defection, so that they are forewarned, and may avoid disaster:

        6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, 7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, 8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, 9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:

        10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. 11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: 12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

        13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, 14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows. 15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. 16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. 17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves. 19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: 20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.

        21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. 22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; 23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.

        24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. 25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. 26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. 27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

        Proverbs 7:6-27

        The harlot signifies and exemplifies the spirit of defection.

  4. Pingback: The Government is Killing Us... - Rogue Male

  5. Re: Mallory Millet: And yet when you point this sort of thing out a certain type of person makes fun of you for being a conspiracy buff and crackpot.

  6. Pingback: Defection – quas lacrimas peperere minoribus nostris!

    • That’s a fun and provocative post you linked to, and there is something to it. There is indeed a sense in which institutions are systems devised to control untrustworthiness. But notice that institutions all run on fallible, never completely trustworthy men:

      • We have market capitalism because businesspeople can’t be trusted; but market capitalism runs on businessmen, who can generally trust each other because failure attends a reputation for dishonesty.
      • We have experimental science because neither truth intuitions nor scientists can be trusted; but science runs on scientists, who are interested in the pursuit of knowledge of truth, so that they are preponderantly honest.
      • We have constitutional republicanism because neither political leaders nor the citizenry can be trusted; but political orders run on political leaders and the citizenry.
      • We have freedom of conscience because priests can’t be trusted; but under ‘every man a priest,’ freedom of conscience runs on priests.
      • We have common law because neither legislators nor judges can be trusted; and the common law runs on legislators and judges, and on juries (who are amateur judges).
      • We have the blogosphere because the media can’t be trusted; the blogosphere is part of the media.
      • We have gold coins buried in the garden because bankers can’t be trusted; and gold coins are worth no more than what the market makers in gold – namely, the bankers du jour – are willing to pay for them.
      • We have basements packed with semi-automatic rifles because state law enforcement can’t be trusted; and if it wasn’t for state law enforcement, we’d be using them every day.

      You see the point. The situation is a little more complex than the linked article wants to recognize.

      Institutions are organized by profective societies in order to defend them against defection. In a state of maximal distrust – of perfect defection – there would be no institutions, because there would be no social order whatever.

      Institutions are artifacts of profective social order. That they are ordered to the control of the risk of defection (among other things) does not mean that they are throughly instantiations of distrust.

      Distrust presupposes the possibility of trust. If there is no possibility of trust to begin with – as would be the case in the maximally defective society, or in other words the zero of society – then there never gets to be any such thing as distrust.

      As sin is a defect of virtue, so distrust is a defect of trust.

      • market capitalism runs on businesses *competing* with each other, ideally ruthlessly (“trusts” are exactly where markets are *not* working), that is, with maximal defection. businessmen repudiate dishonesty because it’s a *strategical disadvantage*.

        the competition is prior to the cooperation in any of those systems, and it’s because those systems are so deeply competitive (and thus trustless) that any trust whatsoever can be even envisioned or produced.

        the same applies to all other systems: the moment competition wanes is the moment things start to stall.

      • In free market capitalism, competition is not defection, but rather a derivative aspect of the nature of the game. Defection in free market capitalism is *cheating* at competition. It transpires between the counterparties to a given deal – between buyer and seller (*not,* NB, between competing sellers) – in which one party deals with the other dishonestly. When there is no dishonesty between counterparties to a deal, the deal is profective – both parties benefit by their cooperation in the deal – or else it simply does not happen. The competition in free market capitalism that is working properly is over who generates the most profection. The agent that generates the most profection wins.

      • the incentive for producing profection comes from competition for survival. and, of course, amongst real competitors there’s no such thing as “cheating” (that’s the meaning of defection)

      • Where there is no such thing as cheating, there are no rules; i.e., no game. There is rather then the perfection of defection, which is the utterly ruthless Hobbesian war of all against all, with every man for himself. In that situation, you don’t ever get exchange, but only pillage, of each by each. This is the zero of society, which is the zero of fellowship.

        As the post points out, at the zero of society there are no crimes, because there are no rules.

        That zero never actually comes to pass, because no one can stand it – no one likes living that way, even sociopaths and narcissists (whose defective strategies, after all, supervene and depend upon society), everyone longs to belong – and because it forestalls reproduction. In practice, there are *always* families in which profection prevails, and which observe de minimis rules for proper treatment both of familiars and of strangers.

        In societies, the incentive for profection is not that you survive and all your fellows die – that way lies suicide – but rather that profection engenders greater payoffs for everyone involved. The incentive for profection is prosperity.

      • is there no rules to the war of all against all? then what decides who survives it?

        exchange arises as a strategic advantage within such war. so does everything else. the war (the zero) is fundamental, the rest is contingent on prevailing.

      • Yes: in the war of all against all, there are no rules. The decision criterion for survival then is survival itself. An offer of profective exchange is in it an offer to die at the hands of your ruthless counterparty. Profective exchange *cannot work* in the Hobbesian war. So there is none of it. In perfect defection, any move other than defection is lethal. So there is nothing but defection. This is what makes the Hobbesian war an equilibrium. It is next to the equilibrium of death.

        But this means that it is a mistake to take the Hobbesian war as basic to society. On the contrary: *society* is basic to society, and defection can possibly proceed only as *a defect from society.* Defection supervenes upon profection, and not vice versa.

        There is an argument that sex is the basic exchange, the basic, original profection of our species. Both the Biblical and the neo-Darwinian accounts take it as such. And sex engenders the profective milieu of familiar life, of kinship, clan, tribe, polis, nation.

        Sex has always been a factor of human life, obviously. This fact alone means that there has always been profection among humans, and so ergo that the Hobbesian war has never in fact been completely achieved. The zero of society can be approached asymptotically, but never reached.

  7. Pingback: More on Defection – The Orthosphere

  8. Pingback: Marriage IIa: Institutions and Values – quas lacrimas peperere minoribus nostris!


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.