In the developed world with western economies such as the USA, Europe and the UK there are a never-ending plethora of new laws being passed by government day in day out.

Some like the now infamous European Union approved Article 11 and Article 13 both of which are clearly designed to benefit some people or entities (such as corporations) at the expense of all others.

I found a real Gem the other day when reading the Ethical Fragments of Hierocles, (a 2nd century AD stoic philosopher) who said:

“I therefore commend Zaleucus, the Locrian legislator who ordained, that he who intended to introduce a new law, should do it with a rope about his neck, in order that he might be immediately strangled, unless he could change the ancient constitution of the polity, to the very great advantage of the community.”

Hierocles, Ethical Fragments

In other words, anyone who proposed a new law or alteration of one already existing had to appear before the Citizen’s Council with a rope around his neck. If the council voted against the proposal the proposer was immediately strangled.

Clearly the people of Locri (a Greek colony in southern Italy circa 7th Century BC) took a dim view on the introduction of frivolous laws that benefited the few at the expense of the many, and probably with good reason, as the corruption of government and the decay of the rule of law has always preceded societal collapse. History clearly shows that if you play fast and lose with the law, to the point that it protects the unjust over the just, the bad over the good, the corrupt over the virtuous, the selfish over the selfless, then ‘the end of days’ is just around the corner.

This is why the virtuous man always obeys the law, as in the case of Socrates, who willingly drank the hemlock after being unjustly convicted on charges of impiety and corrupting the youth of Athens, after having had the opportunity to escape, he remained and faced the penalty that was due him, because he understood that to escape and ‘break the law,’ would serve to undermine the state even further which was something that Socrates was not prepared to do.

“Now you depart in innocence, a sufferer and not a doer of evil; a victim, not of the laws, but of men.’

Plato – Crito or The Duty of a Citizen

In conclusion wouldn’t it be wonderful if our modern day legislators had to put their head in a noose prior to a vote? Indeed it’s worth noting that in other sources it’s specifically mentioned that the people of Locri had only passed one new law in 200 years…

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