Morality makes stupid.– Custom represents the experiences of men of earlier times as to what they supposed useful and harmful – but the sense for custom (morality) applies, not to these experiences as such, but to the age, the sanctity, the indiscussability of the custom. And so this feeling is a hindrance to the acquisition of new experiences and the correction of customs: that is to say, morality is a hindrance to the development of new and better customs: it makes stupid.
Friedrich Nietzsche in “Daybreak”
Rules and limitations have a far firmer grip on our lives than we often realize. We may be lucky enough to live in the “Free World”, but we are dominated in every aspect of our lives by etiquette, manners, conventions, laws, decrees and other regulations to which we subject ourselves. They are part of a vicious cycle, for we need these customs in order to maintain the balance in our society, but every custom we implement diminishes our innate trust of our instincts.
As Nietzsche points out, the very existence of law (and perhaps more so the social embargo on challenging law) keeps us from objective critical thought on the subject it covers. Under the guise of maintaining social order, the principle of law was devised to disrupt natural order, with the single goal of implementing and maintaining artificial power structures. Law is limitation, the antithesis of freedom. This is why all law must be distrusted.
Social convention enables those in power to embed their preferences in the public opinion, to hold down who they choose to hold down. It is on the foundations of social convention and religious rule that the fear and hatred of homosexuality is built – even today rulers of some nations and religions denounce this as deviance, disease and a danger to the very core of society and they leave their followers blind to the absence of any evidence to support their statements.
It is on the basis of social convention and religious rule that women were long considered inferior. The rule was for women to be subservient, and those who refused were labeled hysterical. Even (medical) science was long unable to surpass the custom of the day and it became a tool of the elite to keep women from actively participating in society for centuries. It’s not about keeping the playing field uneven, but rather about keeping groups of people from participating in the game altogether.
Law is the result of people attempting to assert dominance and superiority over others. In extreme cases this leads to the systematic degrading of parts of the population, clearing the way for the others to threaten or attack the “inferiors”. This is what is happening nowadays in Russia where violence against gays has quickly become the norm since Putin passed his “family values” laws; it happened in pre-WW2 Germany when the Nazi’s dehumanized the Jews to the point that the majority of Germans accepted the mass-deportation and ultimately murder of millions. The same mechanisms were at work when Europeans first sailed out to Africa and the America’s, came across fellow human beings of different color and decided to enslave or massacre them.
Another point made by Nietzsche on morality is that “it is not the ferocity of the beast of prey that requires a moral disguise but the herd animal with its profound mediocrity, timidity, and boredom with itself.” Ultimately, right and wrong are not static concepts which can be defined in universally applicable laws. Do we need politicians to tell us stealing is wrong? Do we need religion to tell us to treat each other right? Or do we hope for our fellow human beings to respect our freedoms and thereby know how to treat others as well? We should trust ourselves to do the right thing when we think for ourselves for it is only in absolute freedom that we will grow and develop, while a society that is dependent on writing into law everything its people can and cannot do has only the semblance of civilization.