Good Things About The State of Nature

Cato the Elder
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The state of nature has always been characterised as something barbarous, undesirable and damaging to human beings. This is because Hobbes and Locke both posited that the state of nature was so terrible as to require the formation of a state. But I can also see that some aspects of the state of nature would have been positive.

My reasons for why the state of nature would have positive elements are different to those of Rousseau (a philosopher that I happen to despise). Rousseau believed that the state of nature was composed of solitary individuals living in blissful ignorance, and that this arrangement was superior to what emerged when societies and thereafter civilised communities formed, as it led to precisely what Hobbes and Locke said arose from the state of nature: envy, greed, antagonism and all manner of negative emotions. I actually believe that the state of nature was closer to what Hobbes and Locke describe it as being. Things like envy and greed and violence, I believe, are hard-wired into man and not foisted upon him by society. So I reject the concept of natural goodness as posited by Rousseau. But I can certainly see why the state of nature would have had good aspects for man in a number of ways.

With no state, there was no centralised criminal justice system. With no centralised criminal justice system, individuals had to seek justice for themselves. With the concept of deferred justice not having been invented, it was common for blood feuds to carry on between individuals and families for years, even for generations, as can be seen in Anglo-Saxon society. Gradually the idea of monetary compensation (wergild) for injustices came to the fore. The fact that individuals were forced to seek justice for themselves, without recourse to the courts, and take matters into their own hands, encouraged masculine virtues of assertiveness, pride and self-respect. Those who were manly and brave enough to stand up for themselves and for their interests against their fellow men would thrive, and beta male cucks who always shrank from confrontation and conflict would be easily dominated by the stronger men around them. An honour culture was encouraged which emphasised avenging slights and demanding a minimum of respect from one's fellow men. Individual self-reliance was promoted.

The lack of a state led to a Hobbesian war of all against all, but this had positive aspects because it allowed heroic warriors to rise to prominence. It was these men which were the creators of the first empires, and who dominated their fellow men and placed them under subjection, creating mighty realms built around themselves and their glorious image. It meant that the weak were crushed and the strong rose to the top. However, once the state came into being and settled and orderly life was made possible by a centralised criminal justice system, all this changed. Suddenly, human beings became accustomed to a life of peace and plenty. They grew soft and weak and effeminate. This is behind the decline of all great civilisations, including the Roman Empire.

The ideal society should preserve the masculine warrior virtues of the state of nature whilst also accommodating some sense of order. Though I fear that this will not be entirely possible, as our modern, egalitarian society strongly looks down upon masculinity and heroic, violent struggle. Perhaps we shall simply have to wait for a new state of nature to develop, as looks increasingly likely due to the anarchic nature of the Internet. Modern technology might herald a new, lawless, orderless age, in which heroic warriors will force their values upon weaker peoples.

I look forward to that age. I find it exciting and refreshing.

My ideas are inspired by the philosophers Nietzsche, Carlyle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Hegel.

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