It may seem at first that law is about hard power. Hard power is not without it’s merits. Namely it brings all people together under the lowest common denominator. Force. It seems that all animals that are capable of inference can comply behaviorally with Kolhbergs entire conventional stage. That law, enforced by hard power brings stability and in turn inferred morality. Yet while animals can display sympathy (relating to experience.) no animal society is considered even transitionally post conventional. The simplest conclusion is that while at a glance advanced animal society may appear to respect freedom, that reversion to opportunism and alliance is inevitable.
Animals display many favorable efficient behaviors, even sometimes in large and complex groups. But those come at a cost. Constant vigilance. Hard power must be ready to bare or golden opportunities will be exploited and the order upset. This is the rule of law without symbolic codification.
Is codification what sets human beings apart? Psychopaths can not only comprehend codification but can enjoy material success as professionals in law. Psychopaths who share social behaviors with the animal kingdom can not ascend beyond the conventional stage. To do so requires imagination, specifically empathy, which by definition they do not possess. It seems as if the the rule of law it’s self it in place to protect us from psychopaths who consistently seek power as it’s own end. Conventional law and order is a referendum on the psychopathic mind with hard power as best understood barrier.
In humans codification allows law at a distance where vigilance is at it’s weakest. Why does it not fail catastrophically like with animals? The virtue of law in any particular case is embedded in an individual’s risk assessment. As discussed at length here, the conscience is a risk assessment engine. So while law at a distance is aimed at restraining hard power obsessed psychopaths, it is more often followed by those able to assess risk the best, the empaths.
This difference in behavior is the source of corruption. It increases with societal scope as distance causes the effect of vigilance to fade but conscionable people react to their own emotional state in the same way. Even worse corruption is codified and becomes part of the rule of law. Further, the corruption increases by another factor as psychopaths breed faster than empaths and their percentages increase. The bigger the legal scope, and the higher the percentage of psychopaths, the more law works against the conscionable. Valued for protection from the very people increasingly exploiting it. Restraining only their not the psychopaths activity.
This is why the rule of law becomes the law of the jungle. It continuously falls further short of morality as it’s society grows in size and age. The civilization gene the mutation of superior risk assessment compared to mere jealousy allows people to live in relative harmony. For a while at least. Not because law is vigilant, but because intelligent beings with a conscience are.