By Samuel von Pufendorf
Critique by Punkerslut
In reading this relatively old book, one will discover many of the origins of common law concepts as well as the origin of trends in international law. While reading it, though, there is no doubt that the reader will feel they are holding something extremely archaic, perhaps ancient. At most, I'd like to consider this an observation of the practice and law by Samuel Von Pufendorf, with his own opinions and critiques on making the process more efficient at accomplishing its aim. When reading his work and offering my points of critique, it should be kept in mind that I am not only being critical of this one man, but I am being critical of the dark age to which he was an inhabitant. If it happens that Samuel Von Pufendorf's opinion supports child slavery (as it does), then I shall consider that not just indicative of his personal conscience, but also that of the people that raised him. It is, in fact, quite rare, that a people who love liberty and take grace in acts of humanity, should ever convert to barbaric practices, such as child slavery, or absolute power of government. "Our forefathers may have believed that, but we do not have to, we have humanized a great deal," will be the arguments of all who refuse child slavery, sexism, and a patriarchal view of family. With all of this said, I think my readership is enabled with the right mind to enter this critique.
God or the Social Order?
The argument here is that the idea of god is necessary for man to be good, to allow his will to express things just and fair. This presupposes that all of the natural inclinations of mankind are immoral, degenerate, and cruel. It makes me wonder: prior to the founding of the Christian religion, what was it that convinced mothers to treat their children gently? What was it that convinced men to aid each other in their social efforts? What was it that gave them a sense of goodness and a willingness to improve their lives? Pufendorf doesn't answer these, nor does he make any excuse for the men in his society that were without any religious affiliation, but still behaved rationally and humanely.
Too much importance has been placed on ordering our actions to be in concurrence with the will of god. There is no doubt to this. Many authors of the religious type have argued that we must listen to god. However, exactly what god wants has been up to debate. Pufendorf recognizes this, saying that we should have "rights views of god." This "right view of god" has varied so much, to killing of blasphemers and witches and heretics, to the setting up of torture committees and concentration camps. If there is a god and if he is a fair god, then we all have an equal ear before him; thus, I think it is fair to say that anyone's opinion of god's will is as equal as anyone else's. The best solution to this is that we regard each person's opinion on its own arguments, not with any appeal to an unseen spiritual entity.
I really can't say that there is anything humane, tolerant, or rational in the argument of Pufendorf here. Why should a man be forced to make excuses for the beliefs which he has decided to hold? Why should anyone be forced to speak to judges when it comes to matter of opinion, and above all, the sacred opinion. It is the opinion of the spiritual world, the origins of the universe, the way in which people relate to each other and to their conscience. Above all, it is this right of opinion which all have regarded most highly as just and in accordance with the general will of humanity. Furthermore, if there is an afterlife and if Pufendorf is still roaming around in the clouds in the sky, wondering if anyone can provide an argument of Atheism, I'm sure he's found one by now. In response to his idea that philosophers have proved the existence of god, by causal relationships, I must say that his defective reasoning here follows him throughout this entire book. If everything needs a cause, and therefore, god is the first cause, then that brings us to this obvious statement: since god did not need a first cause, then neither does anything else, nor would we have to think that anything does. But, if god needs no cause, if god can be "the uncaused effect," then why cannot the universe be, also? Samuel von Pufendorf might have been ultimately an ineffective political theorist, but he was a terrible theologian.
I cannot say that Pufendorf is making an invalid claim here. Yes, men in any type of surrounding, whether social or natural, are apt to make cruel and heartless decisions, based on their self-interest. But, many men do this, they believe, in accordance with the will of their god. Murder, rape, pillaging, all in the name of the lord. At least, that is what we discover when we look through the Old Testament. So, it's not necessarily being convinced of a god that makes any person a good man. In fact, it was the belief in god that convinced people they could be destructive and without humanity towards others -- on account, of course, of the discourses with god which they feel themselves private to.
We have seen, without a doubt, that religious men will suspend their humanity, their sense of justice, any possible ideals of a better world, in favor of their religious zealotry. According to religion's own precepts, the will of god is superior to any other will. It is this will that must be upheld, cherished, and obeyed before any other will. That is the religious doctrine. As, just as we realize that it is quite true that men will uphold god's words with greater passion than they uphold any human words, we also realize that men believe a variety of things on the matter of an almighty god. In the Christian faith alone, there are hundreds of sects; some believe that god wants us to murder homosexuals, while many others believe that god wants us to accept everyone for who they are. Some believe that a woman has the right to her body, while others support the bombing of clinics and assassination of physicians, no matter how many people they have helped. There is no doubt that the world leaders have always believed god to be on their side. Whether it is George Bush, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, the Queen of England, or the chief of a several million-member aboriginee tribe, everyone has gone to war on the premise that god gave them clearance. I could not imagine someone going to war with the idea that god wants them to lose; such an idea is simply unthinkable.
Above all else, the basic principle of every god-given mandate is this: mankind cannot, must not, and should not think the matter out for himself. Ethics, sociology, politics, philosophy. All scholarly and noble fields of humane studies should bow their heads to the sermons that priests and clergy give us. A Freethinker allows his own mind to be the judge -- he does not loan his intellectual integrity to spirits and unseen deities. The Freethinker weighs evidence, researches, and gathers information. When making a decision, he uses reason, logic, and rational discourse. Open-minded individuals who think for themselves become Freethinkers when they appreciate this fact. So, when we see that so many men have believed so much about god, from homicidal tendencies, to massive cult conspiracies, to more popular inhumanities, like supporting war, defending torture by the government, promoting laws that inhibit reproductive and sexual freedom. So, too, there is no doubt that many men of religion thought it was the will of god, to specifically take an oath to the almighty, and lie to the public. I have no difficulty believing that this happens on a regular basis. Men who think they are serving the ultimate will of the universe have been led to wars, to brutalizing and plundering innocent villages, to slaughtering men, women, and children, in a way not completely different than the way they slaughter animals (and, in fact, that is another cruel act that their religion allows). So, if men can be led to these things on account of religious conviction, then so too, they can also be led to lie and give a false oath, if they think it is the ruling of their god.
An Atheist, a Deist, or a peaceful spiritualist, men and women of Freethought, whose sole interest it is to advance the condition of all living (the greatest way of honoring those who are not) -- all of these people have no god to make oaths to. I must admit, sure, there may be no oath they can take that holds them back from lying. With the system of courts that have been erected, all of them bent on suppressing the natural will of men and subverting the innate passions of all humans, there is a great deal to lie under a court oath. Whether the state is interested in executing a man for involvement with liberationist political parties, or whether the prosecutors of the government are interested in releasing corporate criminals so that they can continue to contribute to world poverty and the soaring unemployment rate, there is a good reason to lie in court. But, then again, these are courts; they are made to serve the interests of the ruling, governing class. In public and private affairs, all good men are serving their oaths as humanitarians in telling the truth. Freethinkers especially, because we all have a great appreciation and value for truth; the entire philosophy of Atheism revolves around the idea that people have the right to know what the truth is, in matters political or social or economic, or in matters religious and philosophical.
I seriously doubt that any philosopher could truly support such a theory. If you were to ask any member of the British Island whether they believe that their current king and queen are god-appointed, they would laugh. If you were to take any man in the nation of Ireland, and ask him if he thinks that it is god will, that he has no right to vote, no right to determine his political status, and no right to combine with other men so that he might obtain a right to political self-determination, he would tell you that you are not talking about his god, but the god of a barbaric and inhuman class. If a man is so good as to love equity, to labor for the improvement of civilization, and honest enough to hope that god exists, then I imagine he would be hoping for the existence of a good god, a generous and just lord of creation. I cannot see men of good character upholding inhumane laws. It has been the repeated history of our heroes and idols of the past, that to break the law, is the greatest thing that can be done on behalf of advancing humane goals.
Aside from the moral atrocity that civil authority arises from the will of god, there is also the violation of rules of logic. If one nation has a government so cruel, bitter, and obsessed with the evil nature of mankind as to pass a law allowing slavery, and another nation has a government thoughtful and intelligent enough to ban it, then why would god allow such differences to exist? According to Pufendorf, it seems likely that all governments are the embodiment of the will of god. If this is true, then why is it that governments around the world have created different policies and different regulations for their people? Why is one government satisfied to grant their people no rights, to allow them no constitution, to grant them no courts to address their grievances? Why is another government so willing to compromise with the laboring class, so conscientious about raising their youth, so hopeful of the new era? I can hardly find any reason, why a god who has been described as anything but inconsistent, would allow such apparent and obvious differences in legal policy. Or, perhaps it's a matter of god being the follower of Racist ideology. One nation of men, the ultimate source of wisdom argues with himself, is less deserving of freedom, peace, and justice, than any nation of men; one race of humans is more deserving of fair treatment than the others. Either way, in any consideration of the matter, the Freethinker will read the words of Pufendorf here and find himself in complete disagreement.
The Process of Slavery
The tradition of slavery extends back thousands of years, to a time when Athens was the home to humble philosophers and the army of Sparta struck fear in to hearts. But, I suspect that it extends even further than that. So long as men have been quarreling with one another, using force instead of thought, allowing their greed and self-interest to determine their morals and ethics, as long as there have been wars, there will always be slavery. One is always the consequence of the other. When the ancient government of the Egyptians decided it was the will of god to expand their borders, they were not shy at all about declaring their new captives as slaves. When Rome sought out new provinces via conquest, they would find themselves pleased with numerous people, already in submission, to add to their slave camps. When Africans were brought to America that they might labor and toil for no compensation, to be treated as animals, they were the victims of conquest between African tribes. But today, when the United States government backs a conservative, ring-wing government in a third world country that does not support it, the end result is more slavery. These world leaders parade around the ideas of liberty and freedom, things they wish to give to the hard-working people of Cuba, of the Philippines, of Vietnam, of Iraq. Repeatedly, though, we find their interests were in cheap labor, in exploiting an economy that is full of sweatshop factories and maquiladoras. It is ironic, that few civil rights or anti-war groups have made these connections and applied them fully. And, it is unfortunate, that many turn a blind eye to the cruel procedures of United States Imperialism.
I am fortunate enough to be living in an era where all men and women are convinced of the arguments that attack slavery. Whenever we openly speak of that time in our country's history where the African slave trade flourished, we speak with a bit of hopelessness, that sad sentiment that no matter how much we grieve, there is nothing we can do for those victims of the past.
A Less Free View of Sexuality
The primary message that Pufendorf here delivers is this: sexuality, on its own attributes and description, is an evil. If ever appreciated for itself, the sex act is sinful, cruel, and indignant to god. Whether the relationship is, by nature, heterosexual or homosexual, to act in accordance to the lust desire is in itself a crime; it is a crime against god, as much as it is a crime against humanity. These are the claims of Samuel von Pufendorf. Again, I am thankful that the larger part of humanity disagree with these claims. For the most part, we have abandoned the precepts of those barbaric fathers of the Middle Ages. Not all have abandoned these tenets, though. Many Christians refuse to leave the past. "Tradition, heritage, religion!" That is the claim of many Fundamentalist Christians who oppose anything that might support freedom of sexuality. That means everything from abortion, to free distribution of condoms, to teaching sexual education in schools, to banning gay marches, to passing a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Christians have made themselves the bitter enemy of the most natural act of mankind. Not all Christians, either. In fact, the majority of Christians, to the dismay of their Fundamentalist brothers, practice free sexual relationships, some of them open. The idea that marriage is a necessary seal of approval on sex has waned, but not entirely. It is unfortunate to those Christians living today, peaceably and with an affection for progressive change, that their history and religious scripture is based on violence and cruelty towards other men. Should any of them seek spiritual guidance in their lives, they will be reading a book that speaks volumes of oppression and violence, or they will be listening to a priest who cares more for tradition than the actual needs of his parish.
The first claim of Pufendorf: sexuality, when expressed towards members of the opposite sex, is harmful to mankind. The only time that this practice can be condoned is when it has the sanction of marriage. The response of any Humanitarian author to something like this is simple. Sex is a form of pleasure. It can create happiness and security. It is a beautiful form of affection between two individuals. The sex act is not intrinsically altered by a marriage license. Both individuals act upon the same premises, the same lust, the same principal of reciprocity and mutual pleasure. Since man is pleasured by sex, since fornication creates happiness and spreads emotional health, it must be admitted as a benefit to mankind. It needs no sanction by authorities, religious or otherwise. The only thing the sex act needs as a sanction is the consent of all the partners involved, and nothing else. So, then, we come to the fact that freedom and acceptance of sexuality is positive to the civilized law of all established societies. By our very reasoning, from the logic of our arguments and understanding of these premises, we come to the conclusion that the law of man should reflect the sex act as good and in harmony with all concepts of justice. If it should be the law of man, then why would the law of god differ? After all, most religions concur that man was created by a superior authority. Why would god design men with a libido that would make them sexually active, and why would god give men minds, independent and open, sympathetic with the idea of a free sexuality? The only conclusion is this: god gave men these hormones and these brains so that he would be smart about their habits and willing to indulge his carnal nature. And since man is built in the design of god, god's nature must be equally sexual. That is something that many religions today have become wise enough to agree with.
The second argument of Pufendorf in this quote is this: for a man to engage in sexual activity with another man is harmful to justice, just as it is for a woman to engage in sexual activity with another woman. I think the arguments in defense of a free sexuality between a man and a woman equally apply here. The consensual acts of two adults that produce happiness, pleasure, and a better appreciation for human existence are a benefit to civilized society, not a hindrance. There have been thousands of suggestions, all made by the imperialist ruling classes and the clergy, that have urged people to believe otherwise. Homosexuals, they argue, are in some way different; their sexual behavior is cruel, it does not respect justice, it is an open enemy of all affection. But, again, as in the case of evolution, science acts as a liberator. The lust that a man feels for another man is motivated by the same hormones in the body as the lust that a man feels for another man. We are, essentially, all the same kinds of people. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves, sexually, emotionally, intellectual. There will always be these differences. And, the ultimate moral argument is this: we should encourage people to pursue a lifestyle that satisfies them the greatest. In literature, if a person cares for the Bible over Ingersoll, or Mark Twain over Charles Dickens, or Aquinas over Buddha, that is certainly their right. Christians have even opposed this. They are the apostles of book-burnings. But, as society has progressed, it has become more and more accepted that what a man fancies as literature, art, or music, is his own taste. It has taken several more centuries, but society has started to accept the idea that sexual freedom is equally important. And, finally, I believe society is on the verge of accepting Homosexuality as a valid form of sexual, emotional, and affectionate expression.
For all these reasons stated above, I think I can satisfactorily say that Homosexuality should be a respected act, just as respected as Heterosexuality. My ultimate argument has been this: by allowing Homosexuals to pursue the lifestyle they prefer in the field of sexuality, we are allowing happiness and freedom to blossom. It is not deterrence to the lifestyle that anyone else desires to lead. To accept Homosexuality is to defend the lifestyles of all people. As the ancient phrase goes, if anyone is oppressed then no one is freedom. There is no doubt that the greatest attacker of this practice is religion. The churches have never been the friend to any progressive movement. In the beginning, they taxed the people to support the large paychecks of bishops. But the people revolted. Then the church was only allowed as much authority as it can could gain in voluntary supporters. Its philosophy has been: "Accept the infinite love of the lord or be condemned to eternal damnation" (to quote Bill Hicks). Fear, insecurity, and emotional pain are the pillars of all religious foundation. Without them, the use of unseen gods and goddesses to control people becomes impotent. Besides, as I stated earlier, if it is the will of man to engage in peaceful, loving, and joyous activities, whether heterosexual or homosexual, then it must also be the will of god. If someone can truly advocate the elimination of a peaceful and satisfying practice, simply because they feel their god disapproves, then their god must be one of vengeance and cruelty; I'm more likely to believe that these churches have been taking orders from the devil than from the "king of compassion." And, on top of all that, I'll quote Voltaire: "Religion must conform to morality, and, like it, be universal." ["The Sermon of the Fifty," by Voltaire, translated by Joseph McCabe. Quoted from "A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays," Prometheus Books, 1994, page 96.] For these reasons, I must reject all religious offenses against the lifestyle of Homosexuals; I am a friend of human liberty. What people choose to do, so long as it harms no one, is their own business.
The last position of Pufendorf that I will attack is this: the claim that lusting after another species must be prohibited. Unlike the movement to convince people that sexual activity can be its own purpose, which has been largely successful, and unlike the movement to defend the right of people to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, which is showing great promise of acceptance -- unlike all of these movements, the movement to defend or promote inter-species sexuality has had no defenders. I have the unusual (or typical?) position of defending something here that is unpopular. My arguments, as I have stated and restated, are simple: I believe that those acts which create happiness, which alleviate misery, which produce feelings and sentiments of kindness and joy, are moral, and therefore, should be encouraged. But those acts which cause suffering, which prevent pleasure, those acts that produce nothing but trauma, unhappiness, and painful memories, these acts are immoral, and therefore, should be discouraged. Sure, at first glance, it might be conceived as an otherwise peace-loving philosophy which the great majority of the people accept. While this is true, getting from this primary philosophy to its application is slightly more difficult. It is easy enough to say we should encourage pleasure and discourage pain; but it has been difficult for a society of Puritans to use this principle to support freedom of sexuality and the right to homosexuality.
The greatest problem that prevents zoophilia, or sexual acts with animals, is the same problem that first deterred freedom of sexuality, and then freedom of homosexuality. It is misunderstood, misinterpreted, believed by everyone to be a sin that needs no justification against it to be considered wrong. Consider, for example, the average picture of zoophilia. It is considered usually to be farm boys on their animal ranches. Those who practice it are not its defenders. For the most part, they are victims of social standards. They feel that their acts make them cruel or without morality. They are shameful. Consider the first sexual acts in a Christian puritan society. Many of those individuals who engaged in premarital sex didn't find justification for it. They didn't seek arguments or defenses on their behalf. Rather, they fulfilled the position that the modern zoophile does. Shame. The same can be said of those individuals who submitted to their homosexual urges in the medieval century. In fact, there are many people today who feel that their instincts to homosexual behavior, no matter how natural they are to them, are intrinsically heartless, without respect for god, and a curse. Most Christians are satisfied to condemn things that they don't understand nor care about, whether it's members of other religions or practitioners of different sexualities. But, some Christians have responded in a rather unorthodox way to the wave of people coming out of the closet. Instead of condemnation, they claim that Homosexuality is a sickness that needs to be cured. In this, they do all that they can to make these perfectly noble and honest people feel shame for something they have all the right in the world to. But, I am digressing. The position that the zoophile today holds is the same as the position that was once held by the first lover of sexuality. There is no debate about the matter; just shame for the role that the person holds.
My defense of zoophilia, though, is the same as my defense for the other acts I have defended against Pufendorf's claims. It is a relationship that may produce happiness, security, a sense of well-being and a satisfaction with "the general order of the universe." Some people might argue, though, that it is harmful to the animal since there is no consent. Why, I ask these people, is it that an animal shows general affection for certain acts and general annoyance for other certain acts, yet it is automatically believed that an animal cannot show signs on how it feels sexually. Why is this so? An animal will let you know by whimpering that it detests being struck; it will let you know by excitement that it is glad to see you again; it will let you through its own signs, symbols, and means of communications that it is hungry, or needs to be let out. All animals, once domesticated, are generally capable of carrying out these actions on behalf of their partner (or "master"); they are letting their will be known. So, if this is true of all these other actions, whether an animal desires to play or desires to be fed, why is it difficult to believe that an animal can let its partner know that it wants to be sexually active? Sure, from this point of view, it seems considerably reasonable that there is no reason that a consenting relationship between man and animal should be prevented. (And to hell with all those weak arguments, on what is or is not natural, or what is or is not pure, or what serves to "degrade man's stature" or what is "going against the will of god." The only question we have of an act is, "Is it just, in that produces happiness and comfort while causing no misery?" To answer this question, we must say that Zoophilia is just.) I don't imagine that anyone has every defended this question openly and seriously. I know there are some attempted justifications for it, but they can sometimes fall short of their aim, not taking that extra step to befriend the probably already set-in prejudices of their reader. This might be the first.
Some people might ask about the awkwardness of this part of the argument. Pufendorf's study has been regarded by all as a study of politics and economy of the state. But, regardless, he has decided to make his opinions on sexuality known. For that reason, I had to openly critique those arguments that their listeners have a better mind. As a revolutionary, I am concerned about the condition of our social and economic relationships. I am concerned about the capitalists and investors using unethical treatment in obtaining their never-ending quest of wealth. I am concerned about police brutality, foreign sweatshop labor, and efforts by the government to reduce civil liberties and suspend civil rights in their never-ending quest of power. The reason, though, that I am a revolutionary and have concern for these aspects of society, is because I care about the current condition that the world is in. Poverty and suffering caused by Capitalism, prisoners tortured by corrupt military officers, etc., etc., are all things that distress me. There are other items of a less economic or political nature; things, for example, of a social nature. I am concerned about the laws that prohibit homosexuals from receiving their deserved civil rights; I am concerned about the laws that allow hunting and the selfish exploitation of nature. But, by the logic and argument that I have here developed, I must admit that there is nothing necessarily immoral or unethical about sexual relationships between men and animals. I know what I am saying here violates thousands upon thousands of social edicts. I don't care. The only thing I am concerned about is eliminating those things that cause suffering, whether they are barriers between men and their liberty and happiness, or whether it is the oppression on the people. It might be among the first defenses of Zoophilia. For those still skeptical, I ask them to remember how Vladimir Lenin was the first head of a government to defend the equality of women (put aside for the moment the fact that he wrongfully seized power from a people who opposed him). True, he may have had his less desirable qualities. But, he must have been the first ruler of a major nation, ever to declare that women should be given the same treatment and equality as men should have been. Everywhere else in the world at this time, rulers were of the same disposition: "Women are to be seen, and not heard." Lenin broke a very stable and constant moral rule of that day; and I also hope to be breaking a similar rule, only on the grounds that I hope for a better world.
Pufendorf here argues against what has been called in our modern era Polyamory or Free Love (either term being acceptable). They are relationships that deny monogamous partners. They are not based on deceit or cunning; rather, they are based on a mutual understanding of this fact. So, there is no deception. It is not the promise to stay with your partner, then to turn around and betray this promise. It is the promise that both partners are allowed to engage in sexual activity with other partners, and that this should not be considered shameful or harmful, but should be accepted for what it is. It should be accepted in a way that a person's preference for strawberries over bananas should be accepted, or in what a person likes to read or listen to or do, so long as they do not harm society. The argument is purely Libertarian. There are individuals who desire to cohabit with many members of the opposite sex and still engage in what humans were built for (talking, eating, and sex), and they should be let to do these things together if it gives them happiness and pleasure. There is nothing dirty, harmful, negative, or shameful of such lifestyles. They should be accepted in to the American society. With all this said, I shall move on.
My reader's first question will probably be this: why is it that I have lumped all of these quotes together to refute with a single argument? What is it that these quotes of Pufendorf have in common that the author will try to refute; what string is it that holds these together? I think the answer isn't so difficult to arrive at. All of these quotes are Sexist. In all of them, there is an attack on the idea that a woman should have the same rights, economically, socially, and politically, as any man. Whether it's a woman not having an equal right to her child, or an equal right to her own body, or the right of the husband to spy on his wife and the wife not being given this, in all of these, the woman's rights are compromised when it comes to the rights of the man. The one is the persecuted, the other the persecutor.
The bitter irony we see here is this: Pufendorf opposed the rights of individuals to engage the sexual activity and lifestyle that produced the greatest amount of happiness for individuals. In this sense, we can say without err that he is immoral and opposed to the ideals of a new world, where prevention methods are effective against most of the misery caused by social organization. Second, Pufendorf opposes the rights of women to fair, just relationships, where they feel respected and considered an equal. These unequal relationships are responsible for a great part of the misery in society. Just because women in the time of Pufendorf were successfully turned in to a obedient pets, trembling at the looming footsteps of a master who is equally arbitrary and unpredictable as he is vengeful and cruel. In an unfair relationship, he does not need justification to put any controls or any shackles on his wife, whether they are restrictions or physical shackles. From all personal experience, from all research, I am convinced more and more that those traits that have made individuals of the male gender so extraordinary, these traits can equally be found in many members of the female sex. With this understanding, I must conclude that women deserve rights equal to those of men. It produces the greatest happiness for society, and that can be our only method of deciding whether something is moral or immoral. By the laws of god, nature, or humanity, this is the only standard we can every use on social issues. (However, I must say that the deep-rooted ethics and logic of Morality, as far as it is a philosophical study, are much more complicated. The rules might not necessarily be this simple, but that is generally their trend.)
I take it only as a beautiful suggestion when I read something ancient like this and realize that it was once common for the whole mass of Europe to believe in the sanctity of marriage. It has been demonstrated over and over again by the corruption of the popes, that there is nothing sacred about it. To anyone who is willing to buy the next gold statue for the glory of Rome, any marriage can become nullified. It's almost a regular occurrence today. The fact that the church is now so open about becoming the ultimate profiteer on the will of god is now obvious to one and all. The acceptance of divorce in this country, if you ask anyone, is not due to the corruption of the people by their lust, nor is it due to the falling belief in humanity among our citizens. It is simply due to the fact that people are now finally accepting the scientific view of human sexuality. To crave, seek, or lust after another is not cruel or mean-spirited. It is a beautiful form of appreciating another person. For these reasons, if a person finds themselves incompatible with their partner, whether sexually or emotionally, then they have the right to end the relationship. It is widely accepted everywhere by everyone of all faiths today for one simple reason: the only alternative is to force two people who dislike each other to stay together, causing anger, pain, and suffering. And the humanitarian ethic is strong enough today, to convince people to allow divorces if necessary. I do know that there are millions of Christians who are still opposed to divorce, legally or otherwise. But, there are also millions of Christians today who still believe that a woman's role is to remain silent and without opinion. Sure, many Christians today are orthodox and interpret the Bible literally in all sections, whether it's beating children with rods or keeping slaves.
This is the last sexual taboo that Pufendorf reasserts in his work. Not only that, but it is still a most prevailing taboo. Few people will defend it, but unlike Zoophilia, there is at least some acceptance. The sexual activity is still between two people who are consenting. The basic Libertarian creed has always been, "So long as it is two consenting beings, so long as nobody is harmed in its process, then I must admit it." It is the same ethic, the same thought, that has been used by so many in the defense of all consensual sexual activity, whether it was monogamous, polyamorous, polygamous, or homosexual. Everyone has a right to the activity in life that satisfies their sexual instincts. By allowing everyone to pursue their own sexuality, without fear of shame or judgment or criticism, we are allowing for the development of a society where the independence of the individual is the philosophy of all social organization. What is the primary argument against Incest? Much like the arguments against any other taboo sexual activity, they are shallow and never enough to turn the heart of an intelligent person. But Incest has one further argument against it: the deformities and other birth defects that usually are associated with inbreeding. Most couples are capable of preventing birth by basic and inexpensive means: condoms, birth control pills, etc.. Thus, all birth can be prevented, and the primary argument against incestuous relationships disappears. Again, let me stress one point: the only reason that I am defending these taboo, seemingly awkward lifestyles, is not to make myself out to be more of a revolutionary, or "against the grain" even more. The only reason I am defending these lifestyles is because there are people in today's world that follow these lifestyles because they satisfy them the most as individuals and lovers. I am not, and have not, been trying to encourage people in this piece to change their lifestyle or live a different way sexually. My argument has always been for people to seek out the form of sexual expression that best fits them as an individual person, and then to have safe, protected sex with their partners, whether of the same sex or the species. And, the reason I am defending these unpopular lifestyles is because once they are accepted, and not vilified or ridiculed in public, only then will there be equity and happiness for all of the world's people.
Children, as a form of Property
In each of these excerpts of the work, Pufendorf makes an argument for the idea that children have few, if any rights, and should be treated as such. In all of these, he says that the child should obey his father, that his father's rule over his son should be considered as sacred and valid as the rule of god over mankind.
Of all the great and wondrous things that we have seen in the past, those beautiful moments we read of in history books and glorify in films, we are finding a similar pattern in all of them. They are the times when Abolitionists helped to free slaves, when men first organized in to unions in order to defeat the oppression of their rulers, when women were first granted the right to vote, when freedom of opinion was starting to become an issue in the hearts of men, all of these things. We read of the actions of our heroes, their bold defiance of the standing order and their willingness to die so that the condition of their fellows can be improved. Those are the rare moments of history, of the downtrodden rising up and striking his oppressor, that we revere the most. And in every one of these glorious moments, in every time that the good succeeded over evil, it was a condition of powers being stripped from an entity. The Abolitionist movement brought about the right to slavery being withheld from all; their argument was, "All shall be their own masters, and all shall be their own slaves. No man can or ever ought to own another man, the way that he owns a house, garments, or chattel." When it was decided several hundred years before that that no man has the right to kill his wife, even though she is his " -- when our ancient ancestors made this concession, they were stripping a right from the man. He no longer had the power to condemn his life to death. Less than a century ago, men lost the right to be completely dominant over woman and her life. And, in the condition of parents and their children, the parents have been losing powers. They have been losing the power to beat and attack their child; at least we have arrived at a fortunate enough condition in civilization, where it is illegal for the parents to sell their children like slaves.
We decide that the people should have freedom, because in a system where there is freedom and rights granted to the people, happiness, peace, and prosperity will be found apparent in all facets of society. It is by granting people these freedoms that we have made them satisfied with their existence. Why, then, should we not grant rights to children? By granting them the right not to be beaten, to pursue whichever career in their life that most satisfies their instincts, to associate with friends and comrades on account of their own judgment and not on account of the judgment of someone else, by granting children these rights, we are allowing such a greater flourishing of happiness. A great life is based on the foundation of a wonderful childhood. It will be these early years of the child that they rely upon later in life, on forming their ideas about society and how they will decide to interact with those people around them. So, in these early years of the child, should we fill him with fear of his father's belt, should we fill him with scorn for life because of forced labor or a cruel schoolmaster's might? Should we give him every reason to be attracted to vice, to see genuine virtue as weakness, to feel that human love is vain? We should foster in children, above all, a great love of freedom, a great admiration for the powers of art and intellect; we should give him reasons for being proud of human achievement. By using ineffective or unfair methods in raising a child, we create degenerated children, who will only become degenerated adults; they will respect the tyranny of the clock and the unjust social relationships, because they were taught to go along to get along.
Pufendorf argues that a father should be able to disown his own flesh and blood at any given moment. There is no check that needs to be done on this. There is no council that oversees parents who recklessly use their power. There is no check. This privilege has been granted with the right of the accused to no appeal. Of the most destructive things that can happen to a child early in life, it is to learn the idea that its creator, its flesh and blood father, has disowned it, has regretted his decision to create life, that the father now believes that what he created has turned against him. No child is ever brought in to this world according to their will. No child is ever given birth to or raised according to its standards instead of those of the world. The only thing that a humane world can do, on its defense in regenerating itself and refilling the slots of society, the only thing a humane world can do is to ask its children to make the best of its world, to do what they can according to their heart and mind, to live up to bold and rebellious expectations that would make their forefathers proud. And yet, for a father to disown this creature he brought about, and to completely neglect it in its wants and its desires, is to fail at the greatest duty that any of us can have. Because until we become parents, until we became the fathers and mothers of the next generation, we will never be obligated to another person by a sacred or meaningful bond, save for lovers; and even the relationships of lovers can vary from couple to couple. For a father to abandon a son is a great traumatic experience to that child; it is to give him the idea that he is was not wanted or desired by this world, that there is no place to him... it is to make him believe that existence is purely cold and unwanting.
I believe that perhaps some separations between father and son can be necessary. I know very well that separation between husband and wife has always been conceived as a destructive act. And, I also know, that society has a very different conception of this now than they have before. Divorce is considered as the undesirable result, and accepted only because its alternative (a prolonged misery) is unbelievably worse. Many of these couples stayed together for their children, forgetting that life's purpose is not to beget life, but also one's own independence, liberty, and happiness. However, in many cases, the position of the parents can only be offensive or otherwise harmful to the development and education of the child. The parent can have unforgiving ideas about love, an intolerable lack of understanding the interests of others around him, and a short temper with burning nerves. A father or mother may become abusive, physically or verbally or emotionally. Their only contribution to this child, would to prepare it for a life full of disappointment, worries, and pain. By forcing the parents and the child to stay together, we do nothing but educate a pain so as to inhibit his happiness and friendliness towards the world. The main question that comes to hand, though, is the means and method by which a decision is made on whether they should be separated. Naturally, it is usually the will of the parent that their son or daughter is made obedient towards them, that it is their will their child respects above and beyond anything else. And, whenever the state has assigned someone else to act as the arbiter in this situation, where this person has the right to take away the child should his judgment ever tell him that it is the correct decision, the parent has always disagreed with the ruling of the state's officials. There has always been conflict over the validity of the claims of the state officials. So, on what ground then, are we to decide whether a child would be better off without its parents?
I offer here a very simple idea. I think that the child should be the one who is to be given authority. Democracy is formed on the idea of eliminating tyranny by making every man a king as much as a subject. A person knows their own interests best. The same can be said of any child. It is the child, in fact, who is probably more knowing of the habits and methods of their parents than whatever criminal records might tell a judge. It was the child who lived in a home with these people. It must also then be the child who would most effectively be able to decide which parent it would rather be with. After all, a child is given responsibility in all of its other decisions. Parents, teachers, or instructors all demand that the child become responsible in one way or another. All of them test the senses of discipline, responsibility, duty, and obligation in a child. If a child has been encouraged all throughout his existence to be rational and thoughtful in all of his habits, to be kind and generous to a community in need, to be considerate of others. If a child has been raised with these principles, then a parent would have no need to fear his child rejecting him. So, when a child decides that the relationship with their parent does not satisfy them as an educational and developmental institution, then the child ought to have the right to abandon his parents. This process differs from a father disowning his child. A child should be supported by the earnings of his father. I have a reason to believe that the child deserves more rights than the parents here. The father and mother had a choice to bring this human in to the world. The child had no choice in the matter. It is therefore the obligation of the parents to do what they can to help their child develop and grow, and should they fall short of fostering a good child, the son or daughter has the right to secede and survive off of their parents or community's income (in a way that children are raised communally). Some might oppose this idea, saying it makes the parent almost helpless. Of course it takes powers away from the parent. The Tsar of Russia would never allow the people to have any power. The King of England wouldn't share his power with any citizen. Emperors and dictators have never been fans of civil rights. But, it is by creating a system of checks and balances, that allows abused and neglected children to escape their misery. When due process in law came about, it was so that citizens could confront the government or other parties that have harmed them. So, too, when children have the right to secede from their biological authors, it is so that they can express their grievances.
Consider another specific argument of Pufendorf. He argues that the income of the children ought to become the wealth of the parents. For the same reason that I oppose the previous claim of Pufendorf, I must also oppose this argument. If the parent should always be threatening to disown and abandon his son at every turn that his son disappoints him, then the child should only become emotionally deformed. If a child should lose his right to his own wealth, then his existence would become little more than that of a slave. At the command of his parent, he is forced to labor, to engage society as an economic unit, and in our Capitalist society, to become exploited and abused. It has not been uncommon for parents to send their children to the mills, working over ten hours a day, so that their income goes to the parents. In some cases this was necessary to the economic conditions, but a society ought to be built where existence does not require children laboring for the rich and idle. That is to say, to remedy this problem, a Socialist revolution is necessary. (That it carries with it some Democratic principles is of utmost importance.) I have heard the argument that children should contribute their share to their family's wealth, but in a Communist economy, a father would be completely capable of producing enough necessities to feed, clothe, and house ten families working full time; hence, of course, the natural course of action is to only work a couple to a few hours, to only get the necessities and some luxuries for your family. And, furthermore, it is necessary that the child be given the proper education and upbringing, so that he can become a creative citizen contributing to all social endeavors and a laborer who can add to the wealth of the population. It is necessary that the right avenues be made available to the child at an early age so that he can fulfill these roles.
As I stated earlier, I am very pleased that the general population of our world today opposes slavery and racism. This is not to say that there are no racists or fascists around; I know there are. There numbers are so low, though, that our culture seems to be very well defended against the cruelty of racism. We have to thank many ardent and dedicated heroes, reformers, and revolutionaries for this attribute of modernized society. It was the willingness of good men to be bold and break the law if necessary, that forced society to change. For these reasons, racism and slavery are considered among the most cruel of tortures. So, then, I imagine few will agree with Pufendorf. Nobody in today's society could justify the sale of a child because the parents are incapable of producing their wealth. The entire pictures reeks of social and economic injustice. First, if the father ever gets to a situation where he is that dire, that much in distress, that much in toil and misery and what just seems to be unending suffering, then the economic system is insufficient. I imagine that it would be a much more wild version of what exists today: megacorporate, ultra-wealthy, conservative powers working to keep the wages down, the costs up, and the government under their control. That is to say, a Capitalist system. The system needs to be abolished. Second, selling a child should never be an option for a parent, no matter how low funds get. In fair economic conditions, there would be a thousand alternatives. A child does not simply become the property of the parent. A child is its own being, existing for its own needs, for its own pleasures, and for its own enjoyment. The reason why people say they wish they could be children again, is because of this attitude; as people age in a hopeless system, they start to confess, that they are living for vanity, for social obligations, for desires and wants created by the system. For all of these reasons considered, we must unite in this one opinion: the slavery of children is never forgivable, whether it's racial slavery of children, or whether it's economic slavery of children.
There is the matter of the son always being obedient to the father. What if the will of the father is antisocial and detrimental to the well-being of other innocent humans? We are all well aware that some fathers give cruel discipline, that they command their children to be obnoxious and heartless, as traits to be admired in a society of individuals. We all know that children frequently follow in the footsteps of their fathers. In their heart, they are born with the commandment for a child to be obedient to his father. It is not something that must be taught, but just a natural instinct that must be inculcated. Some fathers resort to that task by forcing obedience upon their child. To these fathers, emotions like self-hate and self-abuse mingle too freely with emotions like care, responsibility, and hope. The result is a father creating a miserable existence for the child he is supposed to love, by making decisions for him as a student, as a worker, and as a citizen. We are Humanitarians; by this, we mean that we are moved by the suffering we have all endured during our lives. Many of us have been beaten down and attacked by police officers. Just as it was a crime in our eyes for these cops to do this, so it is also a crime in our eyes that they should ever do it to anyone else. Many of us have had abusive childhoods, and we must incorporate this somewhat in to our political views. It is not always good for a child to obey his father, and this conclusion comes from our direct experience and observation with the situation. Children can only grow and educate themselves if they are free to do so. Any coercion in these fields is only destructive of creating a positive, happy individual in society.
The final argument that Pufendorf asks is one commonly recited by all authority figures. The subject will become satisfied with the rule of their parent, governor, or police officer, once the authority figure makes a choice for them. That is always the argument of authority: that in this or that moment, the conscience of the individual in power is more informed and more just than all of the combined opinions of the people. That is their argument. But history has always taught us a different lesson. It was not by granting power to authority figures that civilization reached a great state of equity and social justice. The interests of the people become better satisfied when they are given a voice in the matters of the government. When the people are granted more powers, that means that the rulers are denied more privileges. The only reason that we overcame such obstacles such as child labor, slavery, and feudalism is because people were demanding the powers of their masters to be limited in some way. That is the primary aim of the self-described Libertarian, Socialist, and Progressivist parties. It is the trend of all great revolutions and reforms: to place more liberty and more power in to the hands of the people, so that their voice is the deciding factor in the social system. For these reasons, people are only coming closer to the idea of a social utopia, an organization of the economic and social forces that gives equality, justice, and prosperity to all the citizens. And the program of each of these parties has always been to support the interests and desires of the working class, to guide all government agents by the will of the people, for the law to reflect the opinion of the nation's people. When this has been the trend of political authority structures, why should we doubt its validity in the case of social authority? Why should a child expect that his or her wishes will change in the future and think that he she would want something else? It's inconceivable, and it is only consistent with the idea that discipline is the only principle of all real education; it is a debase and cruel idea.
I admit that it might seem unlikely to compare a liberal upraising with other revolutionary ideals. The revolutionaries of these economic and political liberty groups have supported higher minimum wages, placing all factories and mines in to the hands of the public, and laws that respect personal freedom of all citizens. Why, among these ideals, should we ever say something about a child being allowed to educate himself as a Freethinker, whether it's with the will of his parents or against it? It is not the first time reformers and revolutionaries have involved themselves in to the struggle for the rights of children. In the past, we were the social agitators who ended the twenty hour factory shifts for children who were barely eight years old. It was the social reformers, the muckrakers, the journalists and prophets of a new era who were responsible for ending all child labor. Today, we have a school system for the children, but the ideas of liberty and freedom of conscience seem long forgotten. Children do not study the wisdom of their forefathers; they are forced to swallow facts whole without questioning. The values, prejudices, heritages, and bigotry of the forefathers are grounded in to the hearts and the minds of these young children, when their intellect is most vulnerable, when their reasoning abilities need to be molded properly by their leaders. Do not misunderstand me -- I am completely for a system that allows for the next generation to become educated and to understand the knowledge of our best philosophers. I am not against the system of schooling; in fact, I am greatly in favor of such a system. I admire the society that teaches its children skills and knowledge that it will find necessary to social life, to making a living, and to satisfaction. As revolutionaries, we are concerned in altering the social system so that the greater part of man's misery is alleviated and the greater part of man's virtues are encouraged. There is no way to create an ideal people than by giving them a liberal, free education, where the children are given free reign over the topics they decided to study, over the matters they wished to become wise in, for personal and economic needs.
It is a simple and obvious truth: public education should not dictate a religious preference. Why have liberal scholars and progressive reformers accepted this truth? It's very simple. Ultimate truth is not something that can be genuinely obtained by indoctrination. A person can only discover their true religion, or their true philosophy of life, by their own personal explorations. Of all the fields of human wisdom, religion is the only one where nothing has been confirmed or disconfirmed. It is, for the most part, completely empty as a science; the only use of understanding purpose and meaning is for a personal use. All mandatory religious rites are naturally unjust. Whether it's a prayer or a sacrifice, including religion into an educational curriculum will naturally lead to corruption and apathy in to the morals of youth. Individuals become students to attend schooling so that they might become educated and knowledgeable -- to teach a subject which is admittedly empty and undetermined is the greatest sacrilege. No one can know the truth in this matter, so the only course is to let each person decide for themselves what is truth. If this right is denied, if students are not allowed to make decisions for themselves and learn on their own ambition, then the whole educational process has lost its meaning. There can be nothing so alienating and cruel as telling another person that they must accept and believe some awkward religion that they cannot understand. Combining church and school will not foster individuals who create culture and spread humanity; it only destroys any potential to help society evolve.
The other idea presented here, one which still thrives in the darker corners of our world's society, is that an education should be practical and directly related to the needs of society. Such a description of the intention of public schooling is slightly biased. Instead of talking about the needs of society, we might as well avoid the linguistic arguments and say "the needs of the established ruling authority." The state is a man-made beast, sustaining itself off of violence, coercion, and war. Patriotism is simply the religion of this dehumanizing machine. From its own point of view, education should never consist of anything beyond obedience. The school teachers of the Totalitarian regime will teach their students to follow orders, and nothing more. For there to be a genuine education, the teachers must push borders and open doors. The sole intent of the teacher must be to develop and encourage their students, so that one day their experience can speak to generations of the world to come. If truth and justice demand that we tear down the columns of culture, authority, and government, then we have an obligation to those principles more than to our leaders. Since the intent of a real education can be markedly different than the one provided by authority, the school system must be controlled by the public, not by government ordained officials.
Government as God
There are two primary ideals that Pufendorf is responsible for reinforcing in government theory (i.e. political theory). The first is the right of the governments of the world to absolute authority. The second is the right of these governments to disown all accountability for their actions. Of the first, he says...
It is a curious thought, to believe that any authority ought to be absolute. That is to say, the idea that a man should listen to and obey the rules of a superior, not on the merit of these rules, but simply on the merit of the person being a superior. Why should the ruling of an authority have any meaning in the heart of the average citizen? Pufendorf's response to this question is clear: because the governments of the world are their own argument for existence, and they ought to be obeyed regardless of the laws they pass. If the congress, the senate, and the president of the United States of America should ever be in favor of establishing slavery, enormous wars, tax increases, the draft, deregulating the food industry while keeping LSD illegal, tearing up the homes of their citizens to build a new industrial-size military airport, etc., etc., should our government ever try to pass such a law, according to Pufendorf, we should respect the government completely. Speaking out against the government, as a term of infection and disease which could spread ideas, shall be banned and threatened with prison. At first, the government is content to force upon the entire population a custom, an ideal, a theory, that is completely unnatural to them. Whether the people feel that it is cruel, heartless, or inhumane is of no concern to these legislators. The first step might have been the enactment of the "great plan to save civilization from itself," but the second step is always to nail shut the mouths of those who disagree. Iniquity is of little danger when considerate, good men see it and quickly alert the others, but when this "dangerous right of freedom of speech" is eliminated, the governments of the world have no one to stand in opposition to them as they try to gain power over the globe.
The wise and thoughtful men and women of the Enlightenment came to one idea that is still cherished among all today. It is the idea that, the more concentrated power is in the hands of one individual, the more likely it is apt to corruption, bribery, and the other vices that will only find their expression by creating poverty for the people. By creating a system of checks and balances, there is much less likely to be these occurrences which sap the will of humanity. "Spread the power out!" the philosophes said, "The less powerful certain individuals are, the less likely they will be capable of committing injustice upon the people." But, these were Jacobin political theorists. The best way to create a prosperous and free people is to imitate the principles of Democracy as best as possible. Since these philosophes and their intellectual scholars weren't willing to trust their living to the will of people, they rarely would ever advocate Democratic society as a philosophy and means for people to progress upon. However, they still had the interests of the people at hand to a lesser extent, and they were quite aware of the fact that people are capable of governing themselves. That is to say, a man is capable of governing himself a thousand times better than he is capable of governing another man, or he is capable of reaching a state of life that is a thousand times better than if he were governed by another man. The primary aim that these Enlightenment thinkers were striving for was to create a state of ecstasy and paradise, where the people were not exploited or forced to move at the hand of any authority. The philosophers that would come with the theory of Anarchism would finally break through and realize a theory that would envelope the interests of the working class.
Of the second idea that Pufendorf speaks of when it comes to political theory, that is, the idea that government should have no accountability, he writes...
The argument Pufendorf presents is this one: rulers may throw judgments at others, regulate behavior of his subjects, and give any aid or hindrance to whomever he wishes, without any other person in his kingdom capable of doing the same to him. Absolute power. It was a very revolutionary era when philosophers like Rousseau and Paine started to defend the idea of limited power in government, based on the idea of government as a necessary evil. While the political battles of the Enlightenment may have focused around power and people, aristocracy and elected government, the new political struggles of society would take on a more economic nature. The Leftist movement, which has always been anti-power machine, also developed in to a Pro-Labor movement, attempting to put legislation in to effect that would help the common working man at the cost of the idle capitalists. There has always been the constant debate about political authority and government for and by the people. This has been the primary argument of many revolutionary groups, but few groups maintained the idea of completely abolishing all authority and all government. The Anarchists appeared right at the moment that revolutionary ideas spread like wildfire, where the people organized against the government through militias, unions, strikes, and protests. Why are people now horrified of the idea of absolute authority? Why is it that all people, of every class and every social group, understand that authority must have certain limitations? Excepting perhaps one or two extremist neo-philosophers, I don't see anyone today supporting the idea of absolute authority.
Of course, the people have been humanized and denationalized over the years. Their minds and hearts have been cured of some prejudices, treated of some bigotries, but not all. The ideas of justice in the political and economic struggle are still just blossoming. Why have all good and wise people accepted the idea that absolute authority is a menace to justice, peace, and democracy? Perhaps the most bitter of ironies here is that Pufendorf is not only in support of granting the governments all rights, but he is in support of granting the governments no responsibility. Today, the battle cry of the conservative political and economic theorist is this: "Rights, but only with responsibility." Pufendorf is a bit more regressive: complete authority to enact law and, at the same time, to be exempt from it. Far from being the type of government that the people of our world would favor, Pufendorf's state is a nightmare. With this power designated to authority, the only result can be an oppressed society, a nation where the citizens are little more than slaves.
Governments, their representatives, and their officials being accountable for the actions they perform while in office is the only check that has prevented Republican governments from turning in to cruel dictatorships; it is the only thing to put a harness on the amount of damage and destruction a king or prince could wreak upon his own people. We are Humanitarians and Rationalists. We know full well that the governments of the world are based on oppression and exploitation. They may or may not have the word of god on their side. The mysterious cloud-floating subject of at least ten thousand volumes has yet to make a public appearance to tell us what he thinks about these matters. Unlike the author Pufendorf, I do not claim to be a representative of god's legions. I only claim what I can know: that I am a human being in a society of human beings, and I am responding to activity of society in the best manner that I can. Of all the observations that came so candidly and perfectly to me in my liberal upbringing of the United States, I've come to this conclusion: authority is a repressive idea, it works to distort the consciences of men, in to making them think that people are perfect and that ideas are flawed. Authority has only one conclusive end: it convinces people that their own conscience must be ultimately flawed because they are in conflict with the will of superiors and authoritarian intellectuals. These rulers might have no affinity with the ruled. Frequently, they don't, and that is the one American heritage that seems to always find a way of escaping our patriotic songs.
The reason why we grant rights and powers to the people, all of us as philosophers, is because those rights and powers are the most effective means of life and liberty that will grant happiness to everyone. In times past and gone, philosophers thought they were just, when they said a king could override his own laws, execute any citizen without due process, and generally act and behave with as much brutality and cruelty as he wanted. All representative councils or congresses of the people, these old philosophers asserted, would simply distort the will of the people and create an ineffective, insecure system, that would allow the plundering and murder of all good citizens. All evils that are thought to incur from this system of absolute monarchical authority are much smaller than the evils that would come from a more free system. In a Republic or Democracy, or heaven forbid a leaderless community, then there would be nothing to stop one man from murdering and pillaging his neighbor. For every system where the power of a ruler is sustained, where it is preached that civil liberties are enemies of the seeking hand of justice, in all of these systems, fear is their motive. From these ideologies, from these systems of government and national organization, men have written and rewritten the opinion that man is of a debased nature. He is inherently and innately cruel. His heart is black, his mind is shallow, and all motives that he has are for his greed, jealousy, and lust. Carnal in every respect, man expresses the worst vices and the most debilitating habits; he must be controlled. And it was this ideology that these men used, to conclude that a cruel man must become the obedient slave of a cruel master; that men who are innately savaged must be governed by men who are just as innately savaged. In this system, justice would be served.
Anarchism, Socialism, and Communism are systems that operate on different principles. Socialism and Communism at least say that man is good enough, that he can be given responsibility, he deserves a chance to prove himself worthy of liberty. Freedom of the press, of opinion, of assembly, of association, all of these must be granted to the general people. If they are allowed to do these things, we should never fear that they will want to violate other laws and seek to do other things; we should not fear that literature alone is enough to make them be cruel and detest the spirit of mankind; we should not fear that all associations are combined on a principle of self-interest, power-hunger, and ill-will towards the people. We feel that the arts of the people would reflect their tones, those unexpressed sighs of daily existence, the continual struggle against ourselves and our conception of god. This might result in hatred, between classes and races, just as much as this might result in a hatred and loathing of the government's practices. It might result in an artistic reformation or an enormous shift in religious opinion. Predict whatever you want about the cruel acts of men and women; see them in as dark a light as you want. But every time a group of men, united around the belief that mankind is bitter towards all that he should love and will always hate the good, these men who are convinced of this terrible creed will always inflict unnecessary slaveries upon the people, and will always erect prisons and torture rooms to "protect" the innocent.
Anarchism at least comes to this conclusion, "If men are good, why do they need to be ruled, since this will irritate and annoy them? And if men are cruel, why should they be allowed to rule me, when it will only hinder and destroy my activities?" The exact nature of man is universal. There will be rulers of one nature as much as there will be rulers of another nature. It always seems, throughout the history of our civilization, that there have been good rulers and bad rulers. And it was never the great rights and privileges of our good rulers that made them good. If must admire an ancient lawmaker, an ancient king who led his people to peace and prosperity, we admire him because he was strong in the face of defiance and because he succeeded in bettering the lives of his people; we never love him because he had the right to execute any citizen without trial, or that his soldiers were cruel and violent in oppressing their own people. When we look back and we see rulers who were bitter, men convinced that their own people constantly plotted against them and made plans to disrupt all order, when we see these rulers, we always question. "Why did the people think that these men were good enough to have the right to condemn any person to death? Why did people think that a ruler should ever have a life term as a monarch, not subject to the rule of the people in any way?" We ask these questions, because it was the privileges of rulers that allowed them to become despoiled as enemies of the people, and it was the rulers who abstained from such cruelty that we adore and pay respect to. So, Anarchism follows a long historical line in its theory: it arises from the will that everyone has to govern their own affairs and let his neighbor be, and finally develops in to a theoretical structure for society where all men are granted equal freedom, equal rights, and equal responsibility in the production of the goods of society; and, the mutual organization of the people, so that no citizen will ever have power to oppress another.
The views of Pufendorf I have here criticized are these: religion, slavery, sexuality, children, government, and finally, education. I can only hope that my reader found my commentary on Pufendorf as effective, thoughtful, and evidenced by reason and logic. My opinion here is offered as an Anarchist-Communist. There is no doubt that many readers might look at this as the basic views of some ultra-radical leftist, in so many social and political issues. That's not necessarily untrue. But, I have only presented my opinion here as best as I can, and in accordance with the evidence that we have at hand.
The conservatives and right wing intellectuals will tell all of us that these are the rules of our parents, these are the traditions and heritages of our ancestors; and, as such, they ought to be respected and honored highest. There is not much I can claim to know of our ancestors. Samuel von Pufendorf, his brothers, sisters, mother, father, relatives, or fellow members of his society, whether any of these people were prudent, or humane, or gentle with those they cared for, or affectionate with those they loved, whether any of these things are true, I cannot say. However, evident in the words of this book, we have a great many number of reasons to believe that they were not humane, nor were they rational. The dictates of their social order were commanded by a person nobody has ever seen! And for the reasons, of this god of mercy, whom is the source of all love, if a father wishes it, he may sell his children in to slavery! Fortunately, to all of us in our modern world, conservative thinkers have somewhat progressed passed child slavery. While it is no longer fashionable for them to put their own children in to shackles and force them to labor, it is remarkably popular (Nike, Adidas, etc.) to force the children of foreign nations in to shackles and force them to labor.
Whether our forefathers and foremothers were good and decent people, is something that I may never know the answer to. The conservative political parties will constantly argue that it is the will of our forefathers, their laws, customs, and beliefs, that we should respect above all. I may not know what burned in the hearts of these people, or what fearful nightmares visited them in the darkness of night. I cannot claim to know these things with absolutely certainty. But, I do know one thing. Our forefathers believed that they had established a system of social existence where the happiness of all was maximized, where justice and equity were plentiful and available to all. Reason and evidence will tell us that they were wrong. It may have been their intention to create a social system in which the rights of all were respected and justice was the mode of all. When asked how such a society should be created, the answer they gave was simply unsatisfactory. I cannot live the way Samuel von Pufendorf asks me to; and no one, but the most indecent of mind, could ever possibly live according to such barbaric and disgusting codes of ethics.
When reading the words of Pufendorf, I start to think that he was not necessarily justifying anything, but that he was simply giving a bird's eye view of the political spectrum of his time. In many ways, he was progressive, no doubt. He believed that the slavery of children should be seasonal, that parents should be given a chance to buy back their offspring (for whom it was their duty to educate and teach good values -- with the shackle and the whip?). He noted that many civilizations killed their children, but to do such would be wrong. I commend him. After getting this far in the book, I wouldn't be surprised to hear him say, without doubt or skepticism, "If a parent so decides, they shall be granted the right to end the life of a child. And the child, who has received this sentence, shall take it gracefully, without revolt or rebellion." But, somewhere, two hundred or three hundred years before Pufendorf, we will be hearing just that argument. I do know one thing about my relatives, my ancestors who professed the creeds of Pufendorf. I do know that they were capable of emotion, that their actions were sometimes infused with passions, sometimes with love and sometimes with hate. And, I know, that they believed their ideal of society was flawed for so many reasons. They wanted to create a utopia through authoritarian bullying, in every social relationship. If the spirits of these kind dead are still listening to the conversations of our day, if they are now a thousand times wiser from witnessing the occurrences of society, then I truly suspect that they are hoping for us to change. Our ancestors wanted to create a better world, and they failed. If I know anything, I can only know that it is the greatest form of respect to acknowledge the mistakes they've made, and to correct those errors. There is a way to create a better world. And this book is the last place to look.
Maybe Pufendorf was really just explaining the social situation at hand. I doubt it, though. He made too many references to god when justifying his claims. At best, I leave this book, On the Duty of Man and Citizen, as a relic of barbarism, as a vestige in time where cruelty and inhumanity governed all relationships. Read the pages, if you like. I do not think that my readership will find much in there that does not horrify all kind sentiments.