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Reviving Hammurabi’s Code: Different Laws For Different Castes

There was once a king of Ancient Babylon who made a law code and had it written down for perhaps the first time in history.  Fundamental to this code was the assumption that the ranks of humanity are not equal and therefore given different treatment under the law.
In Hammurabi’s time, this meant lighter punishments if the victim of a crime was lower in rank.

It sounds unjust to us now, but if we think about it, one of the great perversities of our present system is that there are still protected castes in our society, it just can’t be written or spoken.
The human experience shows us if we do not explicitly codify rank, parasites implicitly become the most-protected.  Equality is hypocrisy because to espouse it is to defy the timeless lessons of human nature.

Every human society organizes into hierarchies and in a healthy society, people are ranked as they contribute to the society’s survival.  Higher status people, being more valuable, are given greater powers and protections.
The ranks of humanity tend to stratify into breeds based on temperament and ability for abstract thinking.
Therefore, the incentives and deterrants that work for one caste do not work for another.

An underlying problem of our present system is that everyone from professionals to the underclass are subjected to the same laws.
In practice, this means the underclasses are threatened with punishments that deter people with families and careers reasonably well, but give hardened gangsters little pause.

Unable to admit that society can’t deal with its underclass, over 2 million people are locked up in America with millions more on probation or parole.  Rather than being truly punished, society prefers to neutralize them.  Then feeding, clothing, housing these captive consumers, like students or soldiers, becomes an industry of Keynesian broken windows.

Underclass troublemakers tend to have high testosterone, low IQ,  and short life histories. The strategy for their niche is to take big risks with drugs and violence that get them killed young, but also get a few women pregnant.  They don’t really think far ahead.
They’d very much like to stay out of a jail cell, but it doesn’t come with the same stigma it does in polite society.  It might even increase their status and get them more women when they get out again.

For thousands of years the solution for dealing with underclass aggression across the world has been pretty similar.  Either beat the crap out of them with nightsticks or, if they can’t be trusted to contribute to society again, just have them shot.
An egalitarian system is forced to try to harden the laws against its underclass, but as it does so it ends up dumping a steaming load of feces on normal people going about their business.

We end up with nice professionals bewildered by “militarized” police who treat them like dangerous animals at a routine traffic stop and it ends up making even ordinary workers suspicious and frightened of the police.  The quality of life falls dramatically for everyone and the morale of the tribe is damaged.

The irony of making a law for everyone is no one gets dealt with properly or proportionally.  
Unable to simply beat down underclass thugs and unable to admit they require more attention from the law, a phony “war on drugs” gets invented.

At the same time, the cooperative classes do not get the friendly benefit of the doubt their lower risk profile would merit, causing fear and resentment.
Inevitably some get caught and ruined by the indirect dragnets meant to catch the underclass.  To cap it off, those who have jobs and earn a wage by the rules have to feed and house a small country worth of prisoners.  What is a struggling worker to think when they cannot afford to see a doctor and the prisoner gets to see one for free?

A legal system that cannot properly punish low-level dysfunction ends up punishing cooperators instead.  In the long term, this dangerously undermines trust in the legitimacy of the rulers and makes people question the good and worthiness of the society itself.

A society correctly aligned with the Divine Justice punishes low-consciousness defectors with the negative reinforcement of raw force that even animals can understand.

Those who work jobs, and can behave so long as they are given structure can be threatened with humiliation and damage to their reputations.  Just a few hours of being pilloried in the public square being posted to social media would make most hesitate before breaking the law.  
Those who become repeat offenders and no longer care about their public image can be demoted to underclass and treated accordingly when they commit their next transgression.

Those of high agency have greater understanding of their actions in the context of society as a whole so they are mainly punished for crimes they know full well can puncture the lifeboat everyone relies on.
Demotion to the job classes, temporary or permanent, would be one of the simplest penalties.  For people of active awareness, a 9-5 job scraping for money is little different than a prison sentence.

Those who betray high responsibility over wealth and culture must bear the greatest punishments.  An underclass murderer might be quickly dispatched with a bullet.  Reckless speculators and embezzlers who crash the economy are destroyed in every respect with elaborate ceremony as befits fallen angels.

For all classes incarceration ought to be a last resort, where it would potentially do actual good, not indulged in as a net-negative industry.  Already, most other countries imprison a tiny fraction of their people compared to the USA.

Above all, societies are not charities.  Every tribe exists in tough competition with its neighbors.  If it does not run a tight ship, it is conquered and subsumed.  Life is already hard enough for people who faithfully spend their lives helping the group.  It must be relentlessly reinforced: the fruits of society are always for cooperators first. 

There must be severe limits on patience with takers.  A criminal, whatever their class, is put to death or exiled when society can no longer trust them to participate in the mission of the tribe.
Come to think of it, the United States could send thousands of its criminals to Cuba as they once did to the US.  If a tribe finds a neighbor weak and stupid enough to take in their unwanted exiles, why not use it against them?  Then, even the worst become useful as shock troops.
Or just have an actual island or an entire walled-off province where the exiles get a real second chance to build something.

The unprecedented abundance of the industrial revolution has led to such splendid rot that we house and feed people when they go on killing sprees and pat down our worker bees.  
The quick gains of the last two centuries are taken now and societies everywhere are reaching the point of saturation.  Where there is less insulation against reality provided by accumulated wealth, criminals and drug dealers are again being put to death rather than nicely hidden away from the common life.

Only Young Societies Are Egalitarian

A quick glance at the USA tells me it takes about 3-400 years for a brand new society of frontiersmen and settlers to settle down into a civilization at equilibrium.

Every mass society that’s been around for any length of time has set traditions and customs, stratified social classes, and the vast majority living close to subsistence with a ruling class and its functionaries controlling most wealth.

This truth began to dawn on me when I first moved from the American West where “everyone is middle class” to the East Coast.
To my amazement I soon encountered a highly structured caste system.  Each stratum of society lived entirely separate from the others even if they existed in close proximity.  For each caste there were clear codes of dress, of speech, of behavior.
Working low status jobs that required uniforms or heavy duty work clothes, I quickly came to understand that white collar types, the perpetually harried and anxious middle classers, would refuse to acknowledge my existence, even trying to walk right through me as if I weren’t there.  Talking to them was out of the question.
Sure enough, when I went out in nicer clothing, I had no trouble getting their attention and talking to them.  I was amazed.

Lower proles often wore black shoes and gray baggy clothes that allowed them to blend into walls and not be seen as they hauled dollies loaded with goods in and out of shops or cleaned up the streets.   These people I saw were the local class of untouchables, ashamed even to be noticed.

There were aristocrats who walked about in elegant earth tones with a satisfied smug expression on their faces.  Just beneath them were their upper middle class followers, whose attempt to imitate their masters’ smile looked more like a petulant sneer.

In the West where I had been raised, athleticism, fitness, and outdoor activity had been counted as virtues.
In the East, the physical was clearly seen as a vice, fit only for proles.
Men prided themselves on being stick thin, emphasizing their gaunt figures with tight clothes.  For women, gentle Yoga in indoor studios, well away from the sun, was the most vigorous activity they permitted themselves.  They seemed to me very like Chinese mandarins who grew their nails long to show beyond all doubt that they never had to perform lowly physical labor.

It was not just the social systems of the East that made me think at once of China and India, but also the sheer density of people.
For the first time in my life, there were endless crowds everywhere I went.  Public restrooms were scarce, the few available, mobbed by hundreds of people and filthy.  Any public resource at all in such an environment was sure to be quickly exhausted in a true tragedy of the commons.  There were few places to sit, even fountains were designed to make it difficult for people to snatch up the coins dropped in them.    The spaces shown as “parks” on the maps were just islands in the middle of intersections, a ring of benches around a statue, most of them occupied by sleeping homeless people.

On reflection, I understood the East coast of the US, unlike the West, had existed for awhile under the rule of England and inherited its customs and institutions.  But mainly, it has simply been there longer.
All available resources and social positions are taken, everyone is caught in competition for an unchanging quantity of scarce resources.

I realized that the Western USA with its relatively informal egalitarian culture is an aberration.  It’s simply too new to have settled into a more normal system.  The West is still a frontier.
Once there’s no more frontier, people have to live together in the same society.
Within a few generations, people assort roughly into classes based on their ability to control wealth and exert power.  Then each class largely breeds with its own until each caste is practically a distinct genetic breed.
Once the process is complete, you have the classic mature social structure that’s indistinguishable from Ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia.

It is important to make this observation because many of humanity’s best accomplishments come from exuberant new cultures over short periods of time, while ancient empires more often plod on for milennia in a senile daze, living on borrowed inertia, unable to adapt or change, with millions of striving laborers, not one of them producing a new idea.

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