Guest Post: Positively Wrong: Positivism, That Is

Tyler Durden's picture

The next in a continuing series (most recently The Natural Law of Civil Society)

Submitted by Free Radical

Positively Wrong: Positivism, That Is

Law is a negative concept. – Frederic Bastiat

As an element of nature, gold is what it is, no matter what form. The same cannot be said of the golden rule, however, for no matter how natural the social process out of which it evolved, the golden rule is a human construct and therefore its application can be decidedly different that of its elemental namesake.

After all, it is one thing to say, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others” and quite another to say, “What you want done to yourself, do to others.” For although both are reciprocal, the first rule merely requires restraint, while the second requires intervention. That is, the first says that if John doesn’t want Joe to hit him, then John must refrain from hitting Joe, while the second says that if John wants Joe to feed him, then John must feed Joe.

As religions have differed in this regard, we note, for example, that as with Confucianism,  Judaism holds to the negative rule, saying, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men,” adding an emphatic, “that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof.” Christianity, on the other hand, adopts the positive rule, saying, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them,”  while Islam adopts both, including, “Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.”

Insofar as the positive golden rule is adopted on a purely voluntary basis, it is perfectly acceptable in society. When the positive rule is commanded, however, then insofar as that society would be free, it is not, and therefore insofar as that society would be civil, it is not. For when the members of society are prevented, beyond the constraints of the negative golden rule, from acting freely and of their own accord and are instead forced to obey this or that positive rule, they are being required to do unto others what they might not want to do and/or be done unto as they might not want to be done. 

To one degree or another, then, involuntary servitude must be the inevitable result of this form of positive rule. And as involuntary servitude is the very definition of slavery, it follows that the members of such a society are accordingly enslaved, the golden rule be-ing effectively turned into lead due to the fact that it is applied via “the substitution of coercion for voluntary actions.” To such coercion we therefore give the name positivism, this being the already established term as it relates to the so-called severability thesis, which posits that law is not derived from morality, asserting on the contrary that “law and morality are conceptually distinct.”

Furthermore, we use the term positivism regardless of whether it manifests itself on a religious or a secular basis. Thus is Marxist positivism – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” – no different than the positivism of Christian the-ocracies of the past or Muslim theocracies of the present. And while it might be assumed that today’s presumably democratic societies are not positivistic, it will be seen upon ex-amination that they are, and thoroughly so, as we address next in “Money and the State,” followed by “Law and the State.”




1) John 13:3-14 and, in the same vein, Mathew 5:39-42.

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djsmps's picture

Treat everyone with honor and respect - Joseph Bonnano

benburnyanki's picture

Joe "Bananas" only respected one thing. .45 calibur ACP's shootin' out of tommy guns.

Damn religion to hell. I am Buddhist and we don't need no stinkin' badges.

The entire world is a Jew Mafia rigged deck that only the mob and their puppet lawyers they pay to get elected know where the 'face' cards are located in the deck.

Besides Jew Mafia, like Joe Bananas use the "Street Golden Rulebook" which states that the man with the gold makes the rules fools.

 You better realize the banking Jew Mafia branch (not to be confused with their Jew Mafia Branches in Hollywood, Wall Street (Madoff was one), FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, DHS, EPA, FDA, FCC, and Treasury, Bush's Cabinet Mafia, Banana Republic Obama Jamma Cabinet Mafia and all the others really run America.

Mayer Lansky Jew Mob Boss ran america, not the Sicialian Mafia folks.

All the crazy b**ches that had babies in a world run by the Mafia are Mafia Dona Pigs who only care about what goes in and what comes out of their little fat *sses.

Having babies around Mafia like smokin' cigarettes in gunpowder factory!

Now repeat after me: this is my r*fle this is my gun, this one's fer mafia, this one's for c*nt.

Ben Burnyankee say: "We wacked Jesus & JFK for Bank Bustin' and walked, and have a 40 foot container of Gringo Bar-B-Q sauce"

Read Best Bank Book "None Dare Call It Conspiracy":

See NSA and CIA drug dealin' in USA:


pan-the-ist's picture

I know nothing of this Jew Mafia you speak of.

Rastadamus's picture

Babylon is falling....

Temporalist's picture

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men,
they create for themselves,
in the course of time,
a legal system that authorizes it,
and a moral code that glorifies it.”

– Political economist Frederic Bastiat, The Law [1850]

Dick Buttkiss's picture

"Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter -- by peaceful or revolutionary means -- into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it."

Until there's nothing left to plunder.

Or as Frank Gifford now asks, "Are you READY?"

ebworthen's picture

Makes me think of "compulsory volunteer experiences" for some high school education programs; they can't graduate unless they do "volunteer service" which means it isn't volunteer and is a form of indentured servitude to the state.

Reminds me also of this verse from the Bible:


Mathew 6: 1-4

6:1  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.





SilverBaron's picture


"compulsory volunteer"

Two words combined that can't make sense. 

TDoS's picture

Sounds like IRS speak.  Filing a tax return is to be done under "voluntary compliance."

strannick's picture

When the golden rule is seen as a human construct, it becomes an all-too-human construct.

The problem with the 'its all good' theory of comparative relgion, is that, despite the soothing platitudes of enlightened academics, the differences between religions are real, and those differences influence the socities that evolve from the various religious tradtions. As Huston Smith said in the 50s..

'How seriously and fully have the various faiths of mankind been enterred into before their judgement was reached? How fully has the proponent tried and succeeded in understanding Christianity's claim that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, or the Mulim's claim that Muhammed is the Seal of the Prophets, or the Jews' sense of being God's chosen people? How does he propose to reconcile Hindusim's conviction that this will always remain a middle world, with Judaism's promethean faith that it can decidedly be improved? How does Buddha's anatta doctrine of no soul square with Christianity's belief in man's individual destiny in eternity? How does Buddhism's rejection of every form of personal God find echo in Christ's declaration of relationship to His heavenly Father? How does the Indian view of Nirguna Brahman, the God who stands completely aloof from time and history, fitr with the Biblical view that the very essence of God is contained in his historical acts?'

Then, before going on to imagine the wonderful religionless world of John and Yoko, recall recent historys murdered millions who were sacrificed for the improvement of mankind according to the dictates of non-religious, God-free ideologies.

downrodeo's picture

"When the golden rule is seen as a human construct, it becomes an all-too-human construct."


I can't not agree with what you're saying here.

Maybe there is no golden rule. Maybe there is no unifying theory. Would you say it is a waste of time to even look?  

It seems to me that, one constant within all* religions is that they entirely lose any actual or perceived utility when the killing begins (*I am unaware of any Buddhist holy wars). At one point or another, the killing always begins.

I can't even imagine holding a belief (which is, in a sense, a sort of absence of anything certain or factual) so strongly that it would cause me to desire to extinguish another human life. It's inconceivable.   

trav7777's picture

this article is just a buncha junk

jakethesnake76's picture

No sir you are wrong Mr. Free Radical 

The golden rule is one given to men who would be free and driven from within . That is not what Marxism is it is the Opposite, Marxism is being driven from Without, and coercion among other things .   The of Lost and enslaved men is from coercion from pressure from without not the inner light as Jesus or Gandhi taught .

pan-the-ist's picture

So the goal of Christianity in spreading Christianity (that is the goal, isn't it) isn't to drive the golden rule from without?

The problem, as we've concluded here in the past, is not high falutin' moral concepts, whether it be Marxism or Christism, but 1. people who have no conscience, and 2. people who wake up from the delusion they fend for themselves by ability and merit and take what the state has to give or become criminals.

lynnybee's picture

Love & caring are never a bunch of junk.    We're going to need it. 

Dan Duncan's picture

I think

Therefore I am...

An uninteresing, unoriginal, uninspired philosophy major trying too hard.


Bearster's picture

I prefer Ayn Rand's Trader Principle: value in exchange for value, nothing in exchange for nothing.  If you have something I want and I have something you want, then we can do business.  If not, then I wish you well but please don't try to get into my way and I really really don't want you to sic the government on me!

Steven Covey called this kind of deal "win-win".

pan-the-ist's picture

Was there ever a place for street crime in Ayn's ivory tower?  I know Covey has never dealt honestly with cheats.  Both pretend they don't exist.

moneymutt's picture

Free radical, what the heck?

There is one is only one reason to not want to live by the golden rule, selfishness. Sure, living by the golden rule does not mean others will, but all we can ever do is our part, control what is in our power. And the golden rule is good as a goal, standard that there is. To reject it, is to say you want to be morally excused from being your brothers keeper. You may selfishly choose to not be your brother's keeper, that's your choice to make, but don't fool yourself into thinking you are making the better choice.

I don't know who you are or what you have been posting but based on your name, I'm assuming you are about liberty.

Liberty to be selfish no doubt.

I profoundly believe in live and let live, respecting peoples free will if they are not harming others but I also believe the essence of human morality is the golden rule, there is no better, more universal guide.

So how about a little thought expirement, consider a world where everyone lives by golden rule and a world where everyone simply does not harm, negatively effect others. Which is a better world? Certainly just people stopping harming others would practically make the world a paradise but I personally feel we should always try for better. 

Some of the greatest kindnesses I have recieved in life have been those I didn't even know I needed or wanted, or that I had not expressed any need to anyone. Rather someone saw me, my situation and figured out what I needed and came to my aid. As simple as opening a door for me or a big as protecting me against deathly harm, or giving me an important, wise warning that would likely not be well-recieved by me.

But who is it exactly you think is enforcing people live by the golden rule? If someone is, I missed it. I don't even see people promoting the golden rule as a moral code. Its not a part of typical US discussions, instead, much of what is said on media seems pretty mean spirited to me but not judged as such by our culture rather kindness is often protrayed as negative, a weakness.

Finally this talking about negative and positive golden rule is a bunch of BS semantics in my mind, to let selfish people justifying keep on being selfish. If you are living by golden rule, you don't impose your idea of what is good on others, you leave people to their free will, unless they are harming others, and you try to understand what would truly help the other person. The golden rule doesn't mean my Norwegian grandmother brings stinky fish Lutefisk to an Italian funeral reception, instead it means not only feeding someone that needs food, but trying to bring them something the would like. If you are talkative extrovert, it means having the compassion and understanding that an introvert may just want a quite presence while they grieve. That is what I would want others to do to me: to aid me in ways that are helpful to me, while always respecting my free will. Since that is what I want, that is what I should give to others.

People that try to legalistically make the golden rule look like a bad idea, in my opinion are simply chafing at and rejecting the difficult task of living up to the golden rule.

Selfishness is our worlds biggest problem and the living by the golden rule is the best solution offered to us. We can let it collect dust or nitpick it with academic rationalizations to discredit it, but we do this at our own peril.

poorold's picture

"Selfishness is our worlds biggest problem and the living by the golden rule is the best solution offered to us. We can let it collect dust or nitpick it with academic rationalizations to discredit it, but we do this at our own peril."


excuse me, but some define selfishness as americans driving cars, living it big houses, not just consuming a lot of unnecessary resources, but destroying resources needlessly.


oh yeah, you worked for it and were justly rewarded on this it's okay for you to have it.


well, they're coming for it in your lifetime.




the other tribe.'s picture

Selfishness is our worlds biggest problem

If self holds no importance why have you bothered to express your viewpoint? An unselfish man would have simply listened to what his neighbors said and moved along quietly.

DaveyJones's picture

If I had one wish, I'd wish for a dish of selfishly selfless shellfish.

moneymutt's picture

making the argument that we should be kind and compassionate and should not reject the golden rule is inherently, automatically selfish?

I'm just a regular person of average morals, and my reasons for posting may be all or mostly selfish....but to take your logic to its extreme: unselfish spiritual teachers, saints, gurus and the like, they should have never discussed ideas or given their opinion on something? just go on about feeding hungry, healing people but don't give the Sermon on the Mount etc...

I didn't even bring up the topic, nor did I suddenly go off evangelically about my beliefs in a forum not on that topic, rather, I reacted to someone with lots of smarts trying to trash the golden rule, and to me those are fighting words. I was hoping I could give a alternative way to consider this for those that were interested in this topic.

Again, to take your logic to the extreme, I trust most folks would speak up, not out of selfishness, if someone was advocating for slavery or child abuse and they would counter it simply becuase they thought the idea was a bad idea, they did not want it to gain traction, and this would not necessarily been seen as selfish, and could be unselfish act depending how discussion received by others.


Man, having a free will discussion of ideas is now automatically considered selfish and being mute is automatically a virtue?....generally I feel people should only express their beliefs when asked by some other person that is interested, or do so in way that is simply available to someone that seeks it out (an article, a book)  but when a public discussion is held, and some one says something you disagree with profoundly, are we always to ge quiet as the most unselfish act?

poorold's picture

why make everything so complicated and gussy it up with big words?

humans are tribal.  always have been, always will be.  leaders of tribes come and go and over time, power structures within and between tribes changes.

pick a side, any side.

Paul Bogdanich's picture

All this is rather amusing.  The privlidged classes arguing amongst themselves about their responsibilities to the serfs (while drawing no corolaries to the similar support given to the large institutions [banks]) while their Republic has been usurped the rule of habeus corpus nullified and the Magna Carta effectively shredded.  Yet as they debate they remain secure in the knowledge (so they believe) that none of these expanded powers will be used against them as they are special.  Great stuff.  Just like the Weimar Republic.  Oh one last thing, republic are not self restoring.  We won't get back to it without major problems between here and there.     

Don Levit's picture

The reason that the Golden Rule in judaism is stated in the negative, "What is Hateful to you, Do Not Do Unto Others," is that there is more general agreement on what is hateful, rather than what is good or beneficial.

The Torah, our guidebook for living, is often referred to as a fence."

The fence is there to protect uis , to allow us to live up yo the fence, to help regulate ourselves, by not trespassing the fence. For many times we are our worst enemies.  Of fthe 613 commandments, the majority are negative.

The reason for this, is that man needs to be regulated, domesticated.

This is because, according to Chasidic Jews, our evil inclination, the yetzer hara, is stronger than the good inclination, the yetzer tov, of which we are born with both from birth.


Don Levit

pan-the-ist's picture

It should be no surprise to the unwashed that our religion should treat the goy differently as they are not bound by our 613 commandments.

We cannot trust the goy to behave as we do, so we might as well assume they are all dogs and treat them as such.

doolittlegeorge's picture


Dick Buttkiss's picture

May you sleep, then, lest you intrude upon reality with your consciousness. Or your lack thereof.

brown_hornet's picture

dlg- You need a nap.

pan-the-ist's picture

He's walking on thin ice.  If he keeps that up they will have him committed instead of jailed, which would likely be worse.

downrodeo's picture

Wow.... that guy has got some nuts...


If only the average American was able to hold as much respect for themselves, we might actually have something here. Inspiring to say the least.


Lord Koos's picture

Over-thinking one of the more benign human concepts... Merry christmas.

TDoS's picture

All he is suggesting is that you don't try to legislate goodness into people.  As long as we can all clearly see the difference between people and corporations, then we're gravy.

Zapinho's picture

Judaism is the basis for both, 3300 years ago:

1) Leviticus 19:18  Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.


2) “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men,” adding an emphatic, “that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof.”


moneymutt's picture

thanks, good pt...and there are other ancient religions that have same positive golden rule...

bob resurrected's picture

Free Radical- If you are going to quote CS Lewis you should cite the source, "Mere Christianity." And, looks like you are headed to "The Abolition of Man."


But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody


downrodeo's picture

+1000 This is more true than death and taxes!

this was my gf's favorite song when she used to be a waitress.

I love Dylan, the guy is a damn Genius.