a coworker, learning the ropes, commented the other day that he would do anything he was told, as long as it wasn't against the law. when i heard this it started a few wheels turning about common misconceptions about "law and order".
now, he could have meant a couple of things by that statement. he could have meant, "i'll do anything except break the law because i'm afraid of the consequences". though hardly admirable, that's very understandable. because we all fear "consequences", we can't really criticize too much those of us who are very afraid. after all, we all have different limits; some have very low limits, some very high. what he could have meant - what i suspect he meant - is that statutory law, law created and enforced by the state, is, in and of itself, something that should be revered and obeyed out of a dedication to the ideal of an "orderly" society.
this idea is born and sustained by propaganda alone. one has to understand that statutory law is not handed down to men from God. it is made up of merely the arbitrary dictates of those whom arrogate to themselves the right to rule over others. law does not determine morality, nor does it truly define criminality. it is so easy to swallow this "law abiding" kool-aid because, in fact, there is a certain kind of symmetry derived from law. if a thief breaks into your house at night, ties you up and throws you in a closet, allowing you out only to use the bathroom, at which occasion you are held at gunpoint; the thief living in your home as if it were his own in the meantime, produces a type of symmetry. it is neither orderly, nor chaotic. there is a type of symmetry in any instance where one person or group of people exploits another person or group through the use of force. the question is whether or not that type of symmetry can be construed as "order" and if it is constructive or destructive to civilization.
most people would agree that it is destructive to civilization to have a criminal class aggressing against the person and property of peaceful or non-aggressive people. but this is exactly what statutory law is all about. one group of people (government), setting, according their own agendas, the rules and regulations by which the victims of their crimes must live or face the consequences. the vast majority of these rules are nothing more than the written framework for the fleecing and domination of legitimate society by the criminal class. those laws have nothing to do with protection and restitution of victims whose person or property has been damaged, but in initiating such aggression. for example, the u.s. has more people in prison than any other country in the world (despite being far less populated than many further down the list like russia and china), a majority of those are held captive for non-crimes, like drug possession or trafficking. people have the right to trade and use drugs if they want to, as long as no one's person or property is violated in the process. but, because it has been dictated by the those claiming to rule over others that such things are "illegal", the guns of the state are used to violate the rights of those attempting to interact in that way. so, not only are those people's rights violated through law enforcement, but they are then kidnapped ("arrested") by the state and locked away ("jailed") as the remainder of society is stolen from ("taxed") in order to house these victims in prisons. it's a multi-level violation of rights. it isn't just drug laws, but many others, including DUI, various licensing schemes, underage anything, traffic violations, etc that are used to crush rights.
yes, there is a certain type of symmetry here. the symmetry of systematic destruction of civilized society in the interest of government power. one should be careful not to equate this destructive symmetry with "order", which can only exist in the absence of aggression. it is a testament to the natural cohesion of society, ordered in and of itself through the division of labor, to be able to exist and function under such a destructive influence.
in itself, law, per se, is unnecessary. there is no other need than to avoid the violation of person and property. the only question that need be asked is, has the action in question directly resulted in the violation of the person or property of another? if the answer is yes, then actions to correct the violation need be taken. there are no specific laws that need be made to that end.
like the myth of "democracy and freedom", one must choose between two opposing ideas conflated through propaganda. there is no such thing as democracy and freedom, only democracy or freedom. the same is true for "law and order". there can be no law and order, but only law or order; coercive government or free association.