Love, Fear, and the Law of Good Intentions
Max Weber, citing Leon Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk, bluntly stated that “every state is founded on violence.” The imaginative theories that have been at times employed to justify the state violence do not fall under the scope of this article. What is analyzed here is the orderly way in which the state elites have jointly prepared the ground to dominate individuals in the fourth technological revolution.
Law and War
Pursuant to the standard definition of German sociologist Max Weber in “Politics as a Vocation” (1918), the state is “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” In other words, a state is nothing more than a narrow group of people (i.e., the government) who manage to exert violence on larger groups (i.e., the subjects) in a certain place (i.e., the territory).
When state violence is directed against common individuals, it is called law, while when it is directed against other officials, it is called war or a coup / civil war. A self-destructive war among state officials provides an opening for the liberation of the common people, as Mao Zedong noted during the Cultural Revolution: “The world is in great chaos; the situation is excellent” (天下大乱，形势大好). If only chairman Mao and his peers did not use commoners as disposable weapons in their fights! To the contrary, the sacrifice of people in the interests of the state elites is not easily justifiable and risks awakening the subjects.
For this reason, following the shocking aftermath of World War II, governments resorted to the legal shelter of international law, under the motto of international peace, to maintain their privileges.
War and Peace
In light of the atrocities committed by state officials during World War II, it was obvious that legal positivism and the social contract theories could not easily survive in the new era. The most awkward period for the victorious state officials was the Nuremberg trials. On one hand, the plaintiffs themselves had committed the same crimes; on the other hand, the prosecuting agents found it difficult to support the charges, simply because the Nazis had abided by the Nazi laws and the Nazi laws were perfectly legal pursuant to the statist maximum of legal positivism.
Facing such an embarrassing situation, state officials put forward a then neglected apparatus—international law. They enforced a corpus of internationally applied laws promising peace, or at least to avoid unproductive fights between them, in exchange for immunity and authority. The international law was not truly intended to relieve the subjects. The common people remained subjects of sovereign officers instead of being recognized as sovereign subjects of a universal law. The case law of the intergovernmental courts of human rights, wherever established, merely proved that the governors did not seriously mean to submit their powers to any law.
Although it is true that for a half century international law offered relief to the common people, this happened only to the extent that bureaucrats reduced their scuffles. With more peace, the people were subjected only to the violence of their officials without suffering from wars among regimes. However, at the end of the twentieth century, the state officials’ poor capacity to bind themselves to any peaceful principle led them to more wars exposing anew their true violent nature.
Thus, it became evident that governments needed a new narrative in order to maintain their status. For this reason, they called on love.
Love and Fear
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the significance of a shared national territory faded due to technological progress. In this context, national territory started being conceived as a fluid space formed by a combination of substantial areas and insubstantial “metaverses” and that could not easily be monitored. To the contrary, what remained tangible and, thus more subject to regulation, were the individuals, who could simultaneously interact in several territories.
In this context, Western state officials ended up with a group of subjects acting in multiple spaces, the metaverses included, where individuals could escape state violence and assume full self-ownership and sovereignty. In the West, an abrupt return to the traditional territorial state would have sounded like an arbitrary request to use horses instead of cars. Thus, Western officers needed a justification for their violent interception of individuals’ progression toward full self-ownership.
To this end, the state elites substituted love for peace, resorting to the most vague and authoritarian law, the good intentions law—an emergency law that allows constant governmental interference with human liberty out of fear of harm, provided that everything is well intended.
From the Nonaggression Principle to the Good Intentions Principle
The rising universal emergency law of good intentions is distinguished by the following characteristics:
- Universal as opposed to international. The old international law had been designed for tangible spaces, while the state elites now needed a law which could apply universally. Indeed, the new law can regulate certain individuals in uncertain "verses;" e.g., offline, online, metaverse, universe, multiverse, alterverse, megaverse, etc.
- A permanent state of emergency. In the increasingly interconnected digital environments, governments present every issue as an urgent situation that needs to be immediately regulated. On this occasion, the state officials show up to regulate subjects’ behavior by leaps and bounds, out of an alleged fear of an imminent collective hazard.
- Law as violence. Violence is the foundation of the state officials’ authoritarian privilege; under the new law, the state has an upgraded authority to arbitrarily regulate the body, the mind, and the morals of the subjects.
- Good intentions as opposed to nonaggression. The passive nonaggression principle is not only rejected, but it rather qualifies as immoral. Pursuant to the active good intentions principle, state officials have declared themselves restless fighters for an abstract Western collective virtue. For this reason, they are allowed to constantly interfere with every aspect of life while inviting the subjects to cooperate (i.e., to passively obey). Possible bad consequences are excused due to officers’ good intentions. If some subjects dissent, they obviously do not share the progressive social and moral values and must be ostracized (canceled, in the digital slang) or otherwise sanctioned.
In the West, the political ideologies of the last two centuries have long been replaced by a collective raving love and fear delirium orchestrated by the privileged bureaucrats. In the center of it, there is a muddle of regulations regarding identity issues, climate change, energy efficiency, health and social threats, safeguard of democracy, etc. The subjects must follow all legislation religiously, not for its doubtful results (external) but to prove their moral alignment (internal) with the state in its fight against a vague emergency. The emergency, as if it were religious dogma, cannot be questioned by any commoner, while the political elites, as if they were clergy, are allowed to be authoritarian as long as they have good intentions.