How to Make a Lawless Society
Article — March 3, 2017 — organization, language, trust
Last month, as previously mentioned, I led a sociocratic meeting to help a small ecovillage manage electricity better. It was a big success, and I want to explore what I think was the main reason why.
Usually, in any form of governance,Sociocracy, democracy, monarchy, whatever. the idea is to make rules, so that we can bind ourselves or others to them. Sociocracy allows an extremely gentle version of this behavior: we are only bound to the rules we make ourselves. That isn’t exactly what I did, though.
I composed a documentYou can see it here, if it hasn’t changed. that closely resembles a book of law, consisting of things like “we turn the lights off when not needed”.
However, these aren’t rules.To be honest, I don’t think everyone understood that, so there might be problems later. They’re statements.
A statement can serve the same function, in giving order to society, as a rule. There are a few differences, and these differences need to be understood to make the magic work.
People are being bad. Maybe we need a hammer? (source) The most important thing is: there is no punishment for making a statement untrue. Punishment motivates people to hide their bad behavior, which is exactly what you don’t want, in a healthy society.
The statement exists only to provide information. It’s entirely the choice of the reader what to do with that information.
My idea to make a society work without laws is to reverse the consequences. When someone breaks a rule, some correction is applied to the one who broke it. The rule stays the same.
Correction: we cannot actually fly. Another successful experiment! (source) When a statement is broken, conversely, it’s only the statement itself that needs correction, to become true again.
The best thing, to my thinking, would be to have a meeting like this regularly. The first step is to agree on statements we want to be true, and the second step is to bring in reports of events that contradict the statements from before, so that we can correct them to reflect what’s actually happening.
The result is a living document that shows the state of the society as it is, rather than showing what it wishes it were.
The reason this can perform the same function as rules of law, as I see it, is that human beings are innately social.
Ladies like a confident man. Ergo: be a shameless asshat. (source) When that’s recognized, people naturally tend to behave as well as they know how to. The limiting factor is only ever ignorance, never malice.
On the other hand, if you assume people are innately selfish, and you treat them with mistrust because of that, they’ll tend to return that mistrust.
Both of these phenomena are expressions of the very same innate sociality. In the absence of any outside incentive or enforcement, we act selfishly when we’re expected to act selfishly, and altruistically when we’re expected to act altruistically. When we know what society expects from us, that’s generally what we do.
And don’t forget to show us what you expect. (source) So expect the best of people. Expect that we want to do good.
Expect that we’ll do anything to benefit the Earth, if only we know how.
Expect that, if we have access to true information, we’ll use it to improve our society and ourselves.
Expect heaven to manifest by itself, through the actions that come naturally to us, as soon as we’re set free.