Friday, May 13, 2011

The fictional citizen

What a strange title for a blog post, no?  What is a fictional citizen?  Why do they exist?  And are they better or worse than being a real citizen?

So many concepts that go with fiction, aren't there?  But there are very real fictional citizens and, no, they aren't hiding in shadows or scurrying across borders or any of that sort of thing.  These are ones that have been known for ages, and tend to be despised by the modern Left for the 'power' they wield.  Ah, the criticisms: that a carte blanche is given to these fictional citizens and that they run roughshod over everyone!  Day in and day out I hear the complaints of the Left about these fictional citizens and yet, for all the moaning, griping and complaining, no one ever bothers to find out exactly what the actual, real problem is with them and how they might be dealt with.  So, as a person used to reading fiction and even trying my hand at some derivative fiction, plus running role playing universes in which I get to run the rest of the universe while players play at being people in such universes, I will give that a shot.

In this instance the fictional citizen is made by law and is thusly a legal fiction.

We call these legal fictions by a few names: companies and corporations.

Hitting on the word corporation it hints at how we get the 'citizen' part attached to these legal functions.  You are a corporeal citizen, that is an independent individual that has flesh and blood attached to you.  However one of the words we use when individuals die is to 'discorporate', that is you are no longer attached to your corporeal form any longer.  You are not incorporated into it, in other words.

When a legal fiction is incorporated, that is all the necessary legal papers are drafted to create the corporation, it then becomes a 'corporate citizen', a concept I am quite sure most have heard of at some point in their lives.  Now these fictional citizens have somewhat different constraints on them being merely legal incorporations and not individuals incorporated with a body, which is corporeal existence.  Legal fictions can hold property, then can hold funds and goods, they can be owned by one or millions of people, they get their own special tax code, they get all sorts of things we don't leverage upon real citizens because they are fictional constructs that we create to do business.

There are things they can't do, in general, like get up and walk around.  Their headquarters may move, yes, but that is done via a different process than you, as an individual, getting up from your chair and walking around.  Corporations may process air through air handlers for their offices, but they cannot breathe.  Only by allowance from Congress can they keep and bear arms in combat, although they can make armaments that is only for sale not for corporate use.  Corporations cannot vote in elections, another area of difference between you, as an individual, and a corporation as a fictional entity.  While they may exchange funds or goods with another company and found a new company, that is not the same as having sex and giving birth to a child, which is biological in its origin, not created by forms filled out and slips of paper passed around to be signed and counter-signed.

Some similarities are striking, however, in the way we see corporate citizens.  They have the right to freedom of speech, which the Left moans about greatly, but they are also beholden to the same limits on speech for slander and libel.  They have freedom of worship, as there are religious based incorporated entities often associated with charities.  They can petition government, which is another problem the Left has with corporations, that and their ability to contribute to political campaigns.  A search warrant is required to search a corporations' properties, and they are protected from unlawful search and seizure of their property and goods.

Then there are the ways that these incorporated citizens are actually superior to corporeal citizens.  They have no life expectancy, and can (in theory) live forever.  As they exist as incorporated entities, they can change their place of corporation and gain corporate citizen rights in other countries without being seen as having a dual allegiance problem.  Individual corporations can gain much power and money, over time, and generally wield influence when petitioning a government beyond the ability of a normal citizen to do, which is the nub of the grief from the Left on this topic, I believe.  And they can be scofflaws and still exist, which is a major bonus for a company that makes enough profit to shrug off fines and lose individuals who do wrong for the company's benefit.

The major problems and grief that associate the Left on their problems with corporations tends to be the power accumulation bit, along with the making money from wrong-doing part.

Do they ever address these problems?


Not a hint of how to solve the problems, just complaints.  Lots of complaints.

To help out the faint of heart I will suggest a couple of things to 'reform' our concept of legal fictions while still keeping them as a viable option.

As almost everything the Left complains about revolves around power and undo influence of corporations, the question must be asked: how do they get so much of them?

The answer is astonishing: they can exist forever and remain free even after wrong is done for them by individuals.

Can these be addressed without losing the concept of the 'corporation' as a viable social tool?

Yes, they can.

First is a 'Three Strikes and You're Out' law.  We do this for repeat offenders that are actual people, so why not apply it to corporate citizens as well?  Any company that accumulates three felonies (federal, State and they are cumulative) then gets immediately discorporated so as to never reform again.  It gets broken down and sold piecemeal at auction, its intellectual property is put in the public domain, its records are kept by the State for review, and the company vanishes from the marketplace.  After its debt is paid off then the remains are divided amongst the shareholders as cash. It doesn't matter if its a local mom and pop store that was dealing drugs on the side or some huge behemoth.  Transnational companies will find that after they have lost their corporate holding in America, they can't get back into the country as a company: their overseas goods can still be sold here, but they cannot return from the dead.  And as the 'Strikes' penalty accrue to the parent company, that means any organization that they have any role in operating would be barred from starting up in the US, and the requirement for third parties that are separate entities would be the only way for such companies to sell their goods and services in the US market.  Americans could still purchase from overseas suppliers, of course, and take on that third party role for themselves as citizens, not corporations.

Yes a corporate death penalty, simple, isn't it?  Now lets extend this concept one more step.

Second is a life expectancy for a corporation set by law.  Between your entering majority and leaving this life is in the neighborhood of 60 years, of which a good part of that is spent accumulating the necessary goods and wealth to have a good life, perhaps raise a family, and generally ensure your continued existence via your use of liberty and freedom.  Thus the prime time of your life is about 40 to 50 years long.  Why should a corporation last longer than that?  If you want to pass some goods and cash to your children you can have a corporations made at your death to do so, and they get that as a great start to their lives!  Isn't 40-50 years long enough to actually do something with a company?  And wouldn't it be a benefit to the marketplace to have no long-term giants standing around, but to have them finally die off after a given period of time?  The time span must be one that is set in a way so as to make it something that the average physical citizen can understand as a concept: forever doesn't seem right due to the accumulation of wealth and power of such entities, but 20 years is way too short.  By setting a definite expiration date for a company much good can be done for markets and society, while allowing corporations to do what they were made to do, achieve that and then end with that achievement as something that can be pointed to and understood... without the company still hanging around.

Like your death the company does get to give away its assets after its debt is paid off.  Those are the physical assets, only, and intellectual property goes into the public domain.  Intellectual works originated in a company and held by a company only last as long as the company does, even if sold or traded away, they go the way of their originator.  This will, finally, get rid of companies lobbying to have copyright extended past a person's death which one or two powerful companies with great influence on this topic have done to distort the original intent of 'limited time' for materials under copyright.

Together these two concepts start to 'level the playing field' of competition in the marketplace as incumbent corporations in a field have a definite life span so that the worries about a monopoly are addressed and anti-trust law can be taken off the books as by the time a company gets enough sway in a market to try and act as a monopoly, it is also tending to be past the early part of its life and has a ticking clock against it.  Those seeking the benefit of creative destruction in the marketplace to churn it, now will have a maximum beat of that churn: the life of a given company.

Enacting the second would require giving a period of time to existing companies: say the half-life of the new life expectancy or the life expectancy minus the amount of time they have been around, whichever is greater.

The Three Strikes law would be a clean slate, but be enforced immediately upon its becoming law, so that any ongoing cases will count against corporation, while past ones would not.

Thirdly is in the area of speech, particularly political speech.  We, for some reason, see fit to limit donations from corporeal citizens.  The concept is to apply those limitations to incorporated citizens, exactly as they are to actual citizens, save that it would apply to all parts and segments of a company.  In principle there should be no reason to see the speech rights of a company as different from that of an individual in any venue.

These three concepts dealing with corporation life span and speech would do much to address the abuses of companies over the long-term.  Bad corporate actors like Enron will still be made, that is a part of the human condition, nothing can change that save better accounting requirements for public disclosure.  These are the main three that would address the problems of the Left and bring corporations to be something that we don't expect to be around as continued beings.  Remember, you can still have one made on your death date to help your children along for a period of time, but at some point that, too, will go away.

By these changes a major shock would be given to the US economy: businesses that are huge (Boeing, Ford, Fannie, Freddie, the Federal Reserve, IBM, GM, GE) would have expiration dates coming around in a couple of decades.  Things we don't think of as corporations, but are legal fictions as entities would also face this: private libraries, hospitals, private universities, charitable organizations, political parties, advocacy groups, PACs.  What this means is a major re-thinking of how we run our society and addressing our own temporary existence by first having to deal with the expiration of companies.  Within two decades major institutions, good and bad, would evaporate off the landscape leaving vast market areas open for new entrants. 

The requirement to discorporate fully, pay off debts and give any remains to shareholders or those that own the company, means that those institutions have to be re-made, re-purposed, re-designed, re-configured and, generally, require people to ask if they really WANT a replacement for it or can get support to make a new version of it.  I am sure that some long-lasting niches would find themselves barren of incorporated individuals as they have actually served their purpose and it isn't worth trying to re-make them.  Others, like the entire venue of education, would be re-made by totally new start-ups willing to compete on the playing field of providing value for the money in the way of a good education.  Banking would have a huge turn-over, and the financial system of the US would break down... not in the 'collapse' sense, but in the 'break down into smaller, more agile pieces' sense.  With the end of large banking institutions and other financial institutions, there would be major upheaval in those markets, yet where needs are vital there would be new entrants ready to step into and step up to the challenge.

Political parties would find that they had to re-start afresh, that old parties used to doing things one way would be gone from the landscape and new successors would be formed by the people to take their place.  Gone would be the certainty of Red and Blue, Left and Right, This or That: the two-party system exists solely due to the incumbent parties able to keep new entrants out, thus politics has stagnated in America and power has concentrated into the hands of the few and that has depressed electorate turnout to 50% or less in the Congressional election cycles.  In a couple of decades there would be no Republicans, no Democrats, no Socialists, no Communists, no Greens, and even the smaller parties that have been around for decades would soon find a death date approaching.  I am sure that some would try to continue on the parties under a different name, but they would have to be totally re-situated, get people to enroll in them, get support, find candidates... and compete at the local level with anyone else trying to start a party.

* * *

The above are ways to creatively address problems and offer solutions that do not 'break' the capitalist system nor make it into a crony system of preferred companies getting rewards while those that are not preferred getting penalized by government.  Are they good methods to employ?  I cannot say for certain, but they certainly are much further along in addressing 'problems' in the political landscape and should wipe the very reason for those problems to exist right off the map while retaining all the good features of the capitalist system and penalizing the bad actors immediately and removing the accumulation of wealth and power via a regularized form of known and understood methods that will cause churn in the marketplace without being upsetting to the market as a whole.

Attempts to tinker capitalism into 'playing nice' has meant high government overhead in the form of regulations, and those very regulations tend to be in favor of large corporations able to lobby government over a number of legislators and legislative sessions.  Smaller companies have a major problem with regulations that impose pre-conditions at size levels as being anti-small business and a barrier to entry to becoming larger.  This is not only a penalty but a non-market based pressure imposed upon the marketplace so as to reward larger entities over small ones by securing the larger entities from competition.  Soon they become 'too big to fail', and yet they do fail due to size and lack of competition to cause innovation in such large organizations.  By placing a known, exact life span on all companies, big and small, the carpet protecting big companies is pulled out from under them and all new entrants to becoming large must face up with the barriers erected to protect large companies, thus leveling that playing field for all players as the cost of becoming large is a set, known quantity.

The 'Three Strikes' system is perhaps the easiest of all parts of this to do as it is something that is known and understood by all of us: recidivists need a major penalty applied to them, and since these are not flesh and blood entities the ultimate price can be paid more easily to stop these actors from ever acting again.  A company with a single 'Strike' against it finds that their ability to expand is only slightly hampered as expansion requires a trained workforce able to uphold corporate ethics with regards to the law.  Yet a company can continue on past that in a relatively easy fashion, although parts that it attempts to shed have the 'Strike' attached to them, also.  There is no way to cleanse an organization of that save via discorporation and breakdown: death is the final end for such problems.  So selling off portions of a company as subsidiaries means that those parts have a separate load of burden upon them.  Remember if this is done without a final expiration date, then that portion could continue on forever with that single 'Strike'.  A company purchasing it, however, is faced with the moral dilemma of having to purchase that company and either keep it wholly separate, or accept its 'Strike' by fully incorporating it during any reorganization that dissolves the company into the larger structure.  This would be a new category of business ethics and how to deal with bad actors in the marketplace, and yet it would only be a major hamper on a business that already has two 'Strikes' against it as they could never reorganize the smaller unit into the larger one.

While this sort of system may seem to advantage the adversaries of companies, that is activist groups pushing lawsuits, it must be remembered that those organizations, themselves, fall into the same category of law for the 'Three Strikes' provisions and that 'targeted' companies can run themselves in an ethical and law abiding fashion and escape a 'Strike' by turning in bad actors before they are found by outsiders and reimbursing those that have suffered due to the actions of that individual from the corporation.  Self-policing and turning oneself in to authorities with an admitted misdeed has always gotten lower penalties as the individual involved recognized their culpability and is seeking to make amends and restitution to society and to those they harmed by the action of turning themselves in.  That behavior MUST be rewarded by lowering penalties and seeing that the company does not and will not allow itself to benefit by the actions of the few bad actors within it.  Corporate ethics go from being a joke and 'its all about money' to not only a worthwhile pursuit but something that companies will seek to enforce in a meaningful way by turning such bad actors in when they are found.  An outside organization cannot inflict harm where a company polices its own actions well enough to find bad actors before 'activists' or law enforcement.  This is what is known as being a 'Good Corporate Citizen'.

In some ways the first two concepts can be seen as an either/or situation, as they both begin to address bad corporate actors with the ultimate end to corporations: the first against the bad actors and rewarding those that act in an ethical manner by lowering penalties to the company (not the individual) and the second by putting a life span on all companies.  If both were put in play there might be some trend to companies willing to do wrong as they don't expect to be around that long.  We already have that problem as we can see the Enrons and Madoff's of the world are more than willing to throw ethics overboard in search of pure gain.  Nothing can be done to stop such actors in life, save to penalize them harshly.  That is part and parcel of being human and no set of laws made on this Earth can address them from doing such things, only set into place a system that discovers them, faster. 

Companies nearing the end of their natural life might be inclined to behave in an irresponsible fashion as they don't have much time left.  Yet for their corporate history they have avoided 'Three Strikes' in total and will either have a good set of corporate ethics (to be admired and upheld to all corporations as 'how to do it') or they will be in the precarious position of one or two 'Strikes' bringing their sudden demise.  If the ethics of a company go so rapidly downhill so as to cause those, then they will be unlikely to remain around for long as their ethics suck to begin with and they won't be around long enough to lose all touch with their founder's ethics, as that founder just might still be around to run the show or criticize it from the outside if he or she has sold it off.  That would be a major warning sign and red flag in the business community that the corporation is losing touch with its initial purpose and should be scrutinized.

In many ways these are self-reinforcing laws that put upon companies the same requirements as individuals have in corporeal life: people who lead good lives don't tend to go bad when they get older and set in their ways, and those with bad intents tend to run into problems sooner rather than later.  There will always be people like Bernie Madoff, and only good corporate accounting standards can help to show Ponzi Schemes up for what they are, there is nothing to stop those who wish to 'cook books' from doing so.  What can be done is to make the penalties steep, very steep, for such actions and the effects of them cumulative.

The final part, of speech, is one that helps to extend our ideas of exactly what being a 'citizen' is all about in the way of exercising our liberties and freedom.  If the 'threat' to society, as the Left would have it, is from corporations being big and overwhelming with speech and money, then the problem is not with the speech or the money, but the means to accumulate same.  Money is not speech: it costs nothing to go out on the sidewalk and rant.  Similarly it costs very little for a company to hawk its wares on the sidewalk with a bullhorn or to get a name space on the Internet to set up shop: your overhead is minimal for such, too, so that is a level playing field with minor barriers to entry.  Money spent to get a message out doesn't help if the message is muted on television, the ads blocked by software, or just 'tuned out' by the recipient audience. 

Newspapers make money not through subscriptions, but through circulation of advertisements, and a few new entrants to newspaper markets that are not subscription based are becoming major competitors by having circulation of news to entice people to pick up the papers on their way to work.  If you don't pick up the paper, you don't help the company, if you do pick it up you help them: the choice is up to you if you want to get an advertising vehicle at your own cost or for free.  Free does not guarantee that people will actually read the ads, just that they will be in a media in the hands of individuals in which it might be presented before them.  Money doesn't get you access, and even if it does get widespread distribution, that doesn't mean that people will actually pay attention to it or LIKE the message.  No one is forcing individuals to GET THE MESSAGE no matter HOW MUCH you pay to distribute it.  Money is not speech, nor speech money, although some after-dinner speakers can command a hefty sum, needless to say, but they are effective speakers which is a both a gift and a job that one can study for.

At the end of this I find the parallels between how we treat legal fictions as citizens and real citizens to be an interesting one.  If the concept is extended to something like 'income' then could we replace all corporate taxes with a single, flat income tax?  The question of 'what is income?' then moves from an academic question to a real world one.  Is it just being paid by an employer?  If so then it is not a 'sales tax', and would be leveraged on any contracts that have set payment amounts on a regular basis to a company to provide a good or service: the company is working for someone, it is being employed by them. 

Thus not all contracts would be 'employer-employee' basis as something like a contract to provide an indefinite quantity of an item over time could not guarantee that any would be purchased, therefore the risk is on the 'employee' not the 'employer'.  Goods made for sale with no pre-existing contract are then not made for anyone specific but made for society, in general, and available for individuals to buy.  That is certainly not an employer-employee relationship.  Nor are items that do not meet up to a contract set of standards for sale, but are generally safe, useful and functional for general sale.  A contract to supply security services at a home or business would be an such a relationship between employer (those procuring the long-term services) and the employee (those supplying such services).  Hiring someone to do something on other than the purely short-term (less than a week, say) creates that relationship necessary to define 'income'.   From that sales of items are not, of necessity, employee-employer relationships, and most fit into the indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery type of contract where the amounts and timing can only be generally defined and, therefore, revenues are not a guaranteed constant.  Employing a roofer for a few days isn't a long-term contract, employing people to keep your lawn up over a year is.  Temps while 'employed' are only temporary or go through a third party for a longer-term relationship, so the direct actor is the Temp Agency, not the one needing the services.

So if we look to extend an 'income tax' idea it would have some ramifications on how we do business with businesses, as service contracts to the home (for cable TV, telephone, Internet, power, lighting, water, sewage, etc.) ARE long term contract types of this sort.  You are employing an entity (private or public) to provide long term services in a very real sense.  You are the boss.  That might make your take on why a public utility should have a monopoly change, greatly, as such things as education for children are ALSO employee-employer relationships especially when specific and identifiable taxes for same based on school districts or other direct tax funding are utilized.  Government acts as the intermediary, but the service is a monopoly one and you, as the boss, should have some say on if you want a monopoly service, or not... that is done via this thing known as 'elections' to change 'laws'.  But once you see yourself as the employer (and have the headaches of employing someone befall you) then you begin to take a different look on exactly what 'income' is and how it is garnered, and what overhead we place upon it in regards to the viability of such work.

The concept of creating more 'real' citizens and accountability has limits when dealing with fictional entities.  The lack of actual questioning of what those limits are and what they mean to us, as individuals, shakes up how we view ourselves, how we utilize our liberty as individuals and with other individuals to form fictional entities, and what the actual driving ideas behind such concepts are.  While the original complaints from the Left are those of the Harpy, the underlying concepts are vital ones that we take for granted and, by doing so, lose sight of what it is we do in life and why we structure certain things the way we do as individuals and a society.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

On the Duties of Man - To Man

This post is a continuation of the examination of Samuel Pufendorf's On the Duty of Man and Citizen (1682).  This post follows the previous section I've looked at On the Duties of Man - To God plus the overview of why this is important in Three Realms of Law.  This work by Pufendorf is, itself, an overview of a multi-volume work he had generated and thought that a primer on that work, suitable for students, would be a vital part of a teaching curricula examining Natural Law.  I will continue to do the overview of his logic and keep my usual commentary in abeyance as much as possible so as to follow Pufendorf's line of reasoning so that the outline of it is plain to see.

In the post-Westphalia tradition of Europe (and America) the concept of the 'Separation of Church and State' is one that is done for the benefit of the Church which had become a key part in State power.  The 30 Years War revolved around the question of which religion was to hold sway over Europe and the Nobles and States of that era followed differing religious beliefs and then imposed those on the people of their holdings or States.  When a realm went from Roman Catholic to Protestant, there would follow the forced change in religious outlook from the top - down.  This would include grabbing the material wealth of the religious doctrine that was in disfavor and the persecution, and often execution, of those who would not convert over to the State's new religious outlook.  With 15% of Europe dead by the end of the conflict, the Great Peace of Westphalia would impose restrictions, agreed to by treaty, upon all those taking part in the Treaty.  While the Roman Catholic Church via the Vatican did not take official part in the Treaty, Roman Catholics could and did help the formulation of it.  This treaty would break apart the links of State and Church so that States could not repress or suppress any of the three forms of Christianity then extant in Europe: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Calvinism.

During that conflict two major writers put forward their different conceptions of how they saw the work of Nation States and religion: Thomas Hobbes and Hugo Grotius.  Samuel Pufendorf examined their works (and many others, needless to say) and would then be the first writer in the post-Westphalian world to blend the outlooks of both Hobbes and Grotius while taking into account the Treaty which would forever change the course of Europe.  Many of the ideas formulated by Pufendorf have resonance with prior works in the Greek and Latin world, and also with those in the Anglo-Saxon tradition like Bracton on the Laws and Customs of England. From the philosophical basis of reasoned examination dating back to Plato and Socrates, then putting in the Latin and Church traditions plus those of the Protestants, and blending in examinations of laws, states and religion, Samuel Pufendorf would be one of the first to present what we would call a 'liberal' view of the world by positing that God is not enough, nor is having a State and that there is a third realm which is Creation in which we must all exist that is separate from both God's moral law and the law we create via the State.  This is Natural Law which is ever present in our mortal life, restricts us in our views, and otherwise shows the physical instantiation of God's Will.  Being part of that Creation we must take it into account as it speaks of God's Will in a way that is not contained by Scripture nor can it be dictated to by the State.  When we examine our Duties as Man and Citizen we cannot leave out this thing called Natural Law as it is a vital part of what allows us to have States so as to be Citizens.

With that, I now proceed on to our Duties to Man.


The duty of Man to oneself starts with the very simple and self-evident truth that self-love is something that we are born with.  We use our natural gifts and talents from the Creator to our own good and self-interest, thusly we care about ourselves and love ourselves to do those necessary things.  If we did not have that self-love we would assuredly perish.  There is no need to impress obligation of self-love from any other venue: you have it as a given at birth.

From the Creator also comes the self-evident truth that you do not wish your natural gifts to perish and that they must be used so as to contribute to human Society so as to seek the preservation of such gifts over time.  Having such gifts and not recognizing that you have them is your shame and loss, but when taught that you have them those doing the teaching are right to punish the pupil for not recognizing their own gifts and utilizing them  It is one thing to neglect one's gifts through ignorance, another to purposely ignore them when those willing to show the vital use of them are at hand.

We do this because we, as individuals, have two parts to us - the soul [anima] which drives and controls the physical body via the intermediary of the mind [animus] which is our direct government of our body.  It is the mind which must encompass Society, not only look after the needs of the body, and it is to that part of us that our ability to become a contributing and vital part of society is held.  Our soul directs, the mind then does the work of following those orders as best as possible within the realm of what can be done via the body.  All morals and ethics are decided upon by the mind, in accordance with the soul so as to give the body the greatest chance to survive and prosper.  With that said our physical needs cannot dictate to us as that then creates gluttony, sloth and the creation of passions not directed clearly towards our self-betterment and may actually be contrary to it and our contact with Society.  A strong spirit resists such temptations so as to become a better man, and those who give into them become less of themselves as they do not recognize the true direction of their self-evident obligations to themselves and Society.

Your life is given from the Creator and you are set for your time in life until the Creator requires you to leave it.  A man can choose a course in life that will shorten it, in doing hard labors and constantly tiring himself to the benefit of himself and Society a shorter life may ensue.  A citizen may willingly risk his life for others, so long as there is benefit to that and is not just adding to a general slaughter to no good ends.  With your life in your hands you must weigh and balance those times when sacrifice, even the ultimate sacrifice, on your part is of benefit to your Society which is the holder of those things which you have given to it in the way of yourself.  There is no obligation for such sacrifice, no words saying that you must give up your life for your fellow man, no one can decide that for you: only you can do that for yourself.

To throw away one's life is a violation of Natural Law in all instances.  It does not matter if it be due to personal misfortune, pain and suffering, throwing oneself into a lost battle to die or putting forward an empty show of faith, they are all the same.  No one profits from your death and Society mourns the loss of skills and fortitude necessary to continue on your life for its allotted time on Earth.  We can learn fortitude and strength from the suffering of others, that it is possible to confront such pain and anguish and survive and even come out the other side of it a better man.  For those with illnesses that will have no end, their example to us of how to live with such things is far, far more important than taking the easy way out for if they can suffer and cling to life until its bitter end, then that demonstrates the power of that life and our own life can benefit from that so as to steel ourselves for lesser travails than theirs.  As horrific as suffering is, and it wouldn't be suffering if it wasn't horrific, it does have a larger context in life and as a demonstration to others of the value of such life within the context of Society.  The greatest gift of the suffering isn't to die, but to live and show us how to lead with perseverance through all lesser times in our own lives.

From this, when the acts of another man put our lives in danger we have the obligation and natural right of self-defense to put ourselves out of danger while seeking to do as little harm to those who attack us as possible.  Self-defense when another takes a risky course of action to attack us or threaten us then invokes our duty, obligation and right to life, and there is no misdeed in carrying through with such self-defense.

Exercising self-defense has the negative effect of injury or death upon your attacker, yourself or both, and this cannot be denied.  While all life is to be cherished and protected, the concept of reciprocity of civility is a requirement for social discourse.  That is that a peaceful and friendly manner is to be reciprocated between people so as to have a civil environment.  As your safety as an individual is part of that sociality, there is no law that prevents one from defending himself from harm.  When one seeks to do harm to another or harm is being perpetrated upon you, the right to self-defense becomes a bulwark of civil discourse by upholding civil standards.  To not do so is to put at peril the good things provided by nature or industry and leave them open to despoliation.  Any attempt to remove the means of self-protection of individuals would be the death of the human race.

With those things said it must always be sought to mitigate the use of force via defensive action, by securing oneself so that an attacker's fury will have had a chance to wane.  Along with this is the prudence of not taking umbrage to minor slights so as to cause them to escalate into provocation and this is to be done if at all possible.

Defense of self includes defense of one's property as any who would violate one's property have already demonstrated no restraint on their actions.  To those ends defense of your property with violent means is allowable in the natural state and in the civil state for immediate purposes.  It is also allowable to chase those who have violated your property in the immediate extent.  In the natural setting you can do so until you have tracked down the individual, while in the civil setting this requires the recourse of the Magistrate and seeking the civil means of law to track such people down.  In the natural setting you can find change of heart and repentance from the individual who has done harm to your property, and you may accept that.  In the civil instance this is for the process of law to decide guilt or innocence.  In either instance it is mandatory to take away the tools available to such individuals to do harm again: that is either on the civil or natural state, it is mandatory that those who are judged guilty or who have repented of their ways have the tools of their ways removed from them.

The right of self-defense is against both those things done by malice and those done by error, thusly there is no right to kill another and submit to being killed due to error.  If you are mistaken for another and harm comes your way, your right to defend yourself is paramount, no matter the cause of the infliction of harm.

To defend oneself from harm by putting up innocent safeguards that will protect you from harm is part of your natural duties towards yourself against your fellow man.  Arming oneself, forming alliances, erecting fences and walls to protect yourself are all parts of what nature bids us to do in our self-defense and there is no wrong in doing them.  These works cannot be used to justify attacking another to conquer them and despoil their goods by force.  This is true no matter how powerful a neighbor is.

Upon seeing that a third party intends harm against another, your first duty is to yourself, save if you have treaty with another to protect him.  Again this is man in the natural state, not the Nation State with civil government and law that is being talked about.  Still, a powerful third party that seeks to conquer or subdue a neighbor can rightly be suspected of wishing to cause you harm after subduing your neighbor.  When you see that plans are laid for violence against you by a third party, you have the right of self-defense by force and seizing the initiative before such plans come to fruition so long as there is no hope of friendly warning dissuading him from such plans.  Defense is not merely avoiding blows, avoiding harm, nor evading your capture as the right of attack in your own defense before being attacked when the plans against you are clear then allows you to stop such plans by force.

In our civil states it is not allowable to attack a government when it is planning to do harm to a third party that plans harm against a fellow citizen.  It is always to be sought to bring such potential assailant before a common Magistrate so as to have his plans addressed in common.  You are not allowed the pre-emptive attack against a third party as a citizen in the civil state, and only once attacked is your right of self-defense to be called upon.  When such violence is visited upon one in the civil state it is your self-defense that allows you to take any measures, up to killing another, to protect yourself.  When such threat is neutralized by being driven off, by the death of the assailant or by you finding safe haven, you are not to continue the engagement but to get the office of civil government involved so as to address the matter.

There is no obligation to always seek the milder form of self-defense as, when one is attacked, the mental turmoil that ensues will change the evaluations of what is, exactly, to be done.  One might leave a place of safety to confront an attacker, one might not run when they are in open sight of an aggressor as to turn and flee is to invite falling or being attacked in the back.  Thus, even if there is relative safety with neighbors nearby, the mental state may not allow that to be an option.  One may also appear in public when they know that they are at risk of attack, the right of self-defense still holds in that case as well.  In the case of duels, however, there is no safe haven to self-defense as it is a purposeful event chosen by the individuals involved, thus the innocence of self-defense cannot be brought into play.

In defense of his limbs a man is allowed the same as in defending his life.

In addition female virtue is also guaranteed the same capability as self-defense.  No greater offense against a woman can be imagined than to take her against her will and force her to raise the child of her own blood for an enemy.

As property is a necessary part of living, those who attack our property are attacking our life in a very real sense.  We cannot preserve our life without our worldly goods, and those seeking to deprive you of them are attacking your life.  In the state of nature we can repel and hunt down such people, while in the civil state we appeal to the civil government for help of recovery but retain the right of self-defense against burglars and robbers of all sorts.

To move on from self-defense are those who have attacked others.  They are barred from self-defense until critical conditions are first met.  He must be repent of the harm he has caused others and give guarantee that he shall do no future harm to others.  That being offered such repentance if he shows savagery in his heart by refusing such and obtaining vengeance at his own hand.

Self-preservation is so high a natural duty that is seen as exempt from the common laws. 'Necessity knows no laws'.  There is no power, no authority, not God nor civil government that can impose an edict so strict upon us as to compel us to face death for them.  Because of this we give exception to laws that have put individuals in danger by following them and recognize that there is no compelling reason for a man to follow a law, no matter how well intentioned, that forces him not to obey self-preservation.

As examples a man may sacrifice an infected limb to save his life.

-On a lifeboat we draw lots if there is not enough food to go around, and those that will not abide by this are tossed overboard instead of letting common fate decide the ends of each.

-If thrown into a hole with deep water and you can swim and the other cannot, and he clings to you and drags you down, then you are within the right of self-defense to release yourself from his grasp.

-If shipwrecked and you find a plank or means to save yourself, but not another, and proceed to do so, and the other swims out to you threatening your survival, you may repel him.

-If an enemy chases two with intent to kill both and the only means of escape requires destroying the means to get to you, even if that means the other is killed, then you are to do so as your life would be forfeit otherwise.

It is also permissible by necessity to cause injury to another to escape death.  If pursued by a stronger man intent on harming you, and you flee down a confined alleyway and another person, innocent of the conflict, blocks the way, you are allowed to knock them down if they do not take the warning of your action or words as proof of your necessity.  You may very well cause harm to this person, but necessity allows such to save your own.  If that person blocking your way was an innocent or cripple, then at least the pursuer would  have the necessity of jumping over them and exposing himself, briefly, to the pursued.  And if the blocker is doing so wilfully, then he may be knocked down and flattened directly as they have courted their own disaster.

The poorest beggar, who has nothing left to sell, cannot sell his works or be hired, who gets no recompense from begging nor friends to succor him may seek to gain sustenance from those who have an overabundance without committing the crime of robbery, so long as there is intent to pay back such sustenance to those it is taken from.  From that it follows that the wealthy are by the limits of humanity, to help the poor and destitute as they are his fellow man.  Still a man is to try all other ways so as to sustain himself then falls under not only necessity but the perfection of obligation of doing no harm.  It can only be done to those not liable to fall into similar dire straits due to that loss and the obligation to make amends via full restitution is perfect and must be done.  If they cannot make a free gift of aid due to their circumstances, then your obligation is not to put them into the same peril you are now in.

Finally the necessity of destroying the property of others to save our own may only be done if there is no way to save the other's property and its value, to the other, is less than the value of your property to you.  In attempting to move or otherwise find means to save the property of another due to the imminent destruction of your own, when that loss is made you are to seek to give restitution to the one who has lost property.  If both properties are at risk and sacrificing some of another's will save yours from perishing, then the loss you are to make up is pro rata as you have saved both from ultimate harm by doing injury to another's property.  That is the basis of maritime law, and it serves on land as well as at sea for such events.

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As with the previous section, I will not be commenting upon this section, save to say that the basis of what we understand our obligation to ourselves to be from natural law, and then under civil law, is something that is obvious and cannot be denied.  This is not due to the nature of civil society, but due to the nature of man, and as man is a being of Natural Law, and always will be no matter where we are in this mortal realm we are within the mortal realm and thus not transcendent of it.

After this comes the duty of every man to every man.