When I was in my early twenties I started thinking a lot about the law, paying taxes, and how society functions. I had a lot of troubling thoughts about it, in fact. I remember thinking something along the lines of 'I am supposed to obey the law and pay my taxes. Before I became an adult, my parents were responsible for taking care of me, and they also had to obey the law and pay their taxes. Now I am adult. The responsibility is mine. But I don't remember asking for this responsibilty. I never signed up for anything. Neither did my parents, I suppose.'
I started reading about political philosophy, and then I learned about the concept of the social contract. After many years I've now begun to believe that this so called social contract is at least to some extent an illusion (or perhaps a delusion) that we keep ourself in. I feel that society may really be based on the threat of violence and incarceration. At least to a very large extent.
For example -- why do we do what the police tells us?
Its not always because we think they are right, for certain. For example -- some years ago some friends and I were having a party. A bunch of us were standing on the sidewalk outside the apartment, smoking. Then two police officers happened by. They told us to directly go inside because a few of us were holding beer cans. (It happens to be illegal to drink in the street in Sweden) One guy said 'yeah ok just let us finish our smokes' and the cops said no, extinguish your cigarettes and go inside now. There was a tense moment of silence. Then someone said 'why do you have to be like this? We're not bothering anyone.'
Then one of the police officers snatched the beer can out of my hand and poured its content out into the gutter. They then proceeded to do the same to the rest of my friends.
My first thought was not: 'Good. These good police officers are upholding the law. Without them society would be thrown into chaos.'
It was in fact 'Fucking cops. That law is stupid, and they know it. They're doing this just because they can. But I'm not going to do anything, because then I'll be forced to spend the night in jail, and then I'll probably have to pay a stiff fine, which I can't afford right now.'
So we all just stood there quietly and let ourselves be humiliated by those police officers.
I don't remember ever wanting such a law. I still do not believe it is a good law, really. And yet I have to obey it, or I will be punished.
I've begun to think its the same with a lot of things in society. In the end, I think we do what we have to mostly because we're affraid of what will happen if we don't. At the same time the sociopats of the 1% can almost get away with anything, because they do not respect the so-called social contract, and their influence and money makes them effectively above the law. To a very great extent, at least.
I'm grateful that my country has a reasonably well functioning society. But why do we have to kid ourselves into believing that it is based on some kind of voluntary agreement or truly democratic process?
Your first reaction was, 'Fucking cops. That law is stupid, and they know it. They're doing this just because they can. But I'm not going to do anything, because then I'll be forced to spend the night in jail, and then I'll probably have to pay a stiff fine, which I can't afford right now.' The Mexicans are said to have a saying that the first to anger loses. Assuming you did not think in anger, we have many laws on the books in the United States that I do not agree with. In Texas, for example, many laws make it impossible for a woman to control the fate of her body and her life by limiting accesss to both contraceptives and abortion. And although I do not in any measure agree with those laws, I am sworn to uphold them. Societal attitudes go ignored by the politician. While a plurality of Americans want federal legalization or at least decriminalization of our Draconian drug laws (weed is on the same prohibitive schedule as heroin), it's only being done on a patchwork basis, state to state, with the A-G's sword of damocles dangling outside ever buyer's club and clinic, retail outlet in several states. I believe marijuana should be legal. I am an alcoholic and know both substances personally. Few would go back to the can or bottle and forego the vaporizer or bong. Drunks fight. Stoners ask where the cookies are stashed.