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Civil Theory

Updated: Aug 28, 2022

Civil Theory

By Mark Shubert

First Draft

The State of Nature

All things are in nature, if we intend on living we need to be secure in nature. This security is civility, the less secure we are the less civil we are. In the state of nature, which is the absence of civility, each individual does what they deem they should and would use whatever power they have to do so despite the livelihood of others. This is their natural rights, mainly the right to all things. They may seize, build, destroy, say, or do anything. Just as they do what they may, everyone else can do the same. This mutual aggression or the persistent threat of war causes individuals to live a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short life. Individuals strive to live a long and happy life which is not ensured in nature.


Due to this, individuals collaborate with others to become more secure since the power one has in nature is exponentially increased with collaboration. These are the first societies, the family. In order for this kind of collaboration to occur and remain its constituents must develop trust that its other members will not exercise their natural rights which would violate their lives and happiness.

The development of this trust requires the relinquishment of natural rights that threaten the union. The rights that remain are their civil rights and all relinquished rights are granted to a trust or governing body however organized. This is where the government receives its power or right to govern, from the governed. Some of these relinquished rights can be abrogated or abolished completely. These abrogated rights should be rights that threaten the trust the people have of the government or themselves. These are rights or powers that make the government ineffective, unusual, or cruel. If the government uses an abrogated right or misuses a granted right then it fails and sends itself along with its members back into a state of nature where conflict is inevitable even between the members of society.

In the family, one or few members could embody the identity of the whole. A de-facto governing body who holds more power or rights than its other members since they hold not only their individual civil rights but also the granted rights. This head of the family, however organized, must secure its constituents from nature and cannot violate the domestic trust or else they lose their mandate of civility or their consent to govern. The loss of trust encourages two actions from the people affected. The first action is the succession of another head, preferably one that would restore trust in the family. The second action is secession of some members to form a separate family, preferably one that would not violate trust.

To prevent the overreach of the head or the loss of trust the governing body must organize itself in such a manner that keeps the family secure from nature. It must govern itself to ensure that it has the right knowledge and energy to do this which requires specialization of statecraft. The government must also govern over the people and provide the knowledge and energy for them to remain civil. Individuals must govern themselves and the government. They govern themselves to make sure that they do not assume and exercise a relinquished right which would violate the trust and return them into a state of nature. Falling back into a state of nature allows for society to do whatever it wants to the errant or violator since, after all, the state of nature is where everyone can do anything.This is where law gets its authority and why it is necessary to follow it. It is also why the government is justified in apprehending errants since these criminals forfeit their membership in society and become yet another threat in nature.

However, the laws themselves must be acts consented by the people and which secure its constituents, not acts that violate its constituents which is an errant government or despotism that puts the government into a state of nature where individuals can do what they want to it. This is why the people must govern the government, to ensure that the authority they consent to is an authority that will actually secure them in nature instead of violating their trust; this is also where the people have their right to rebel since the despotic government is yet another threat in nature, and anyone can do anything in the state of nature. Another restriction on law enforcement is that the more people there are in a society the greater the potential security is and a civil society would be the most secure it can be, due to this it is not civil to just kill off errants but instead to bring them back into a state of civility. Rehabilitation is the most civil enforcement as it corrects errant behavior while also not decreasing the population which would needlessly decrease the potential security of the society. There are reasons to execute individuals for example if they simply cannot be rehabilitated and they are a threat to society, at that point it is justified because those individuals will perpetually be in a state of nature which is a threat to civility.

To reiterate the past few concepts, the government must govern itself in order to maintain consent and it must govern the people to maintain safety and happiness; while the people must govern themselves in order to stay in society and govern the government to maintain an effective body that will keep them out of a state of nature. Mutual governance. If an individual who is entrusted with governing violates that trust they are a tyrant, if the people violate that trust they are errants, and both of these societal failures are types of despotism.

A single individual cannot take care of themselves for long in the state of nature and therefore it is unreasonable to assume they are able to take care of others all by themselves. Due to this reality, society requires and becomes more efficient with specialization. The less time someone has to spend doing something they are not good at is more time they could spend doing something they are good at. This specialization is important because it increases the efficiency of the society, in this case the family but could be applied to larger and more complex societies. These specialties or roles in society allow for innovation as more people can now spend time and effort exercising new roles or discovering better ways to do old roles. The best person at hunting should hunt so that the best person at cleaning can clean which would in turn allow the hunter to hunt more without needing to spend time cleaning. If they do their jobs well enough there may be extra time in the day to do something else like build a better home or leisure or do another activity that will increase their standard of living.

People are pattern seekers and so the more time we spend observing an issue the more clear that issue becomes and the easier it is to find a solution. The longer a hunter hunts the more likely they will be able to see patterns in the behavior of their prey which would allow them to invent traps and techniques to hunt more efficiently. The more efficiently the hunter hunts, the less time is needed in hunting which provides more time for innovation. Since individuals do not live long they are not able to learn much on their own, but families and other forms of societies can live, theoretically, forever and accumulate generational information beneficial to their posterity. This knowledge passed down is education and it gives freedom to people since they do not have to relearn information the way their ancestors had to, but can continue from where they left off and spend more time learning new information; that is why, as I understand it, the root for freedom and books in latin are the same, libertas & libri.

Efficiency is necessary but it is not the only thing required, happiness or satisfaction is also needed. The best hunter might dislike hunting so should they be forced to hunt? Keep in mind that consent is requisite in a civil society so enforcement of roles against the will of the individual is a violation of that consent. Either find civil ways to encourage the best hunter to hunt or allow him to exercise the role they are most happy with.


Eventually multiple families realized that if they collaborated they would be more secure in nature. This is the formation of tribes. This realization, however, is not always, if ever, consensual as one family may subjugate others and still be able to form a tribe. This uncivil union is cause for discontent which raises conflict as families will try to succeed to the top or secede to be the top of a separate tribe. This uncivil formation of a society could be reconciled with the introduction of consent of the governed but sadly throughout history those in charge value control more than civility. To counter discontent, the ruling family or individual may invent and use culture.

Culture may use positive or negative reinforcement but either way it is attempting to make its members feel a sense of belonging which cools aggression. It is more difficult for people to rebel against society which shares their culture than a society that does not since people do not wish to undo most of what they are conditioned or accustomed to. Culture is a tool of control to prevent immediate tension which can prolong a society by being stable but could also be the cause of downfall since it stifles necessary change making society ill prepared for when the demand for change becomes greater than the controlling effects of culture. The more people who practice culture, especially dogmatically, have less time addressing problems or even feel apathetic towards societal issues till it is too late.

This is why there are cycles of calm and conflict. Out of conflict comes resolutions and a culture to prevent conflict from occurring in the short run, which is calmness with little reform; the lack of reform or a redress of grievances causes discontent and tension which eventually leads back to conflict. Culture must be well regulated and cannot stifle societal progress. Culture could be a good thing by cooling people in the short run but if the culture takes too much of the people’s time and efforts away from reform then it is detrimental.

A family who usurps the identity of the tribe, much like a tyrant, is a dynasty. They may assume power with force alone but in the long run they need to maintain consent of the other families. Why would members of a family value the members of a different family above their own? The answer is culture. This kind of culture is propaganda that convinces people to support something they would not naturally support. Tyrants and dynasties and other forms of despotism use culture to condition or normalize their positions in society, even though in reality they are not the best ones for their positions or that their powers should be abrogated in the first place. A free people would be able to look past culture to understand this fraud. Take the ruling dynasty in England, why should the Queen and her family be protected and honored above every other family, above your own family; in nature they wouldn’t be, and in a civil society they wouldn’t be, it is a form of despotism that has adopted to the modern world in order to justify itself and garner support when their adherents shouldn’t support them in the first place.


Eventually, tribes began to realize that collaboration better secures them in nature which led to the formation of city-states. The same principles apply to city-states as to subordinate forms of society. If one tribe positions themselves above the others, with force and culture, then they are an oligarchy. The reason why I use the term oligarchy is because the rich and powerful marry each other and form a tribe of sorts. This kind of tribe may extend past the physical borders of a city-state but it is still a tribe nonetheless; a tribe organized by material possessions where they try to maintain their status in the stratification of class. A civil society would have each individual equal to every other individual, each family equal to every other family, each tribe to every other tribe, each city to every other city, all the up to a universal state. What this equality means is that in society there would not be any arbitrary hierarchies of stratification if they could be abolished with civil means. Just a note, tribes in the modern world like the United States would be what we call the local government, just to clear up any confusion.

This equality does not mean everyone does the exact same thing. Remember the importance of specialization. Equality in a civil society would mean that despite specialization which might materially benefit some over others, the society as a whole would continue to treat and view everyone and every subordinate society the same. The farmer would not have more political authority than a manufacturer, a man would not have any more authority than a woman, a white would not have any more authority than a nonwhite, a family would not have any more authority than other families, etc.

Non Political Entities

At this point there needs to be a mention of entities that are non political but act in a similar manner to the societies mentioned earlier. What is political are the ones mentioned before such as families, tribes, cities, and I will go into nations and the universal state with a mention of civilization states later in the essay. There are organizations of people that do not fit this neat stratification. These miscellaneous collectives are what I consider to be non-political which means they do not deserve to exist in any formal or respected manner, informally yes they can exist as long as they do not attempt to make themselves formal institutions and as long as they do not violate civility. These consist of identities such as culture, religion, race, ethnicity, class, etc. I mentioned culture and class in short earlier but I should go into detail as to why these are non-political, meaning that these identities should not be politicized and would not be in a civil government but they could be in a despotic one either from an errant government or an errant people.

The reason why these identities should not be political is because of their lack of structure, lack of universality, lack of their necessity, or their harm to civility due to them being non-complementary to the formal institutions of society.

Culture has little structure since it changes all the time, which is ironic given how culture is usually looked at as the development of traditions and conditioned behaviors. The parts of culture that don't change quickly usually benefit a specific group of people instead of the whole body of individuals. Some cultures are harmful to society, especially those that perpetuate violations of individuals and trust. There is also the decreasing necessity of culture in more civil societies. Remember culture is a tool to cool aggression in an uncivil society; as society becomes more civil there are less problems people have and the more satisfied people are the easier it is to be granted their consent, which means that culture, a tool to garner consent, is required less and less.

This is not to say that culture is bad or completely unnecessary, only that culture, especially cultures invented in less civil times, is becoming obsolete. There can be, and we see this now, new cultures forming in more civil societies that are created around self-actualization and not like traditional cultures which were created around a sense of duty or role in society. Those old cultures conditioned people to do what they didn’t want to do but what society at the time demanded that they do. Because of progress in productivity and technology there is less of a demand for people to do what they don’t want to do and this gives them the freedom to pursue self-actualization. Just a note, there is currently no civil societies, since there is no society that has completely received the consent of its constituents, completely protects its constituents from nature, and completely removes despotism in the people or the government; there will never be a civil society, only societies that are more civil than others.

Religion has a little more structure than culture, but not enough to be stable. We see the history of all religions includes many fracturing events that divide adherents even of the same religion. Christianity used to be one uniform identity but split into Catholics and Orthodox, then again between Catholics and Protestants, and I cannot even mention all the denominations Protestantism has split into.

Civil theory understands religion as an individual behavior not as a collectivist entity, therefore religion should be free to practice and not respected as an establishment or formal institution that has authority over anyone. These are the concepts of freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Freedom of religion means you have the right to practice your religion. Freedom from religion means that you are protected from another religion imposing itself onto you. Freedom of religion is not absolute because if your religion violates the trust in civil society then it enters into a state of nature and therefore can be restricted. An example would be if your religion calls for human sacrifice of any kind.

Proper religion is the conscience of an individual not an identity of a collective. Such an evangelized collective with any power or privilege will seek more of it till it tears us asunder with factionalism and special interests not concurrent with the general happiness and freedom; like how a tyrant, dynasty, oligarchy, or any other form of despot may seize society for themselves. A reason why religion ought to be seen and treated as an individual behavior and not a collective is because not everyone holds the same spirituality; even two people of the same exact religion may differ on theology. All of this is tied up with the bow of reality since none of it is real and dogmatism should never regulate civility. Even if you are someone who holds a religious faith, that means you still believe that most religious beliefs are false. This makes religion unnecessary and detrimental to society. Again, even if you have a particular faith this means that you do not support the dominance of another religion over you and you should in turn not support your religion dominating over the lives of others. Do not be hypocritical and no you do not know for sure that your faith is the one true faith cause that is literally what all religions say about theirs so there a ton of people lying even if one religion just so happens to be true.

Race is another such identity. What is whiteness? If it is just the pigmentation of skin then it is just an observable characteristic that means nothing. If whiteness is a set of behaviors then what happens when an observably white person does not behave in that manner, are they not white? If it is behavioral then why have it attached to a non-behavioral characteristic such as skin color? Race is obviously not universal since we are not all of one skin color. Race isn’t even a good unifier. Looking at the history of wars in Europe we see that the greatest threat to white people are other white people. There has never been a mass genocide of white people done by another race, certainly no where near as much of a genocide that white people have committed against other whites. Who decides what being white is? The Anglos tried to control what being white is and they based whiteness on how Anglo someone was. The Germans tried to decide what whiteness was and believed themselves to be it. Other groups, usually ethnic groups, try to seize the identity of the race with themselves on top.

Ethnicity is similar to race although it is more granular and is still a common divider amongst people today. There are still wars being fought between people of the same race who claim to be of different ethnicities. Now, there are many uses of the term ethnicity which is inconsistent most of the time and obviously not universal, and is certainly not a unifier in any way.

Gender, which includes masculine and feminine roles and attributes is also not that helpful since a lot of men don’t naturally fit in with strong masculine expectations, so how can strong masculine expectations claim to be the natural male disposition when most males do not naturally form to those expectations? It seems to be the case that those expectations are prescriptive, not descriptive, or aspirational, as in they are asserting what a man ought to be, not what a man actually is. The ideal tough male American, might be chicken-shit compared to the tough male Mongolian. So these expectations don’t seem to fit in any objective usage today so gender can be lumped in with culture and should not be politicized. People on the Right should stop trying to enforce their version of masculine or feminine expectations while people on the Left should stop trying to receive recognition and subsidies for their gender.

Culture, again. I want to summate on culture and these nonpolitical ideals. There are two types of culture, one that is propagandistic and originates from a power above the individual with the intent of conditioning and controlling people, and there is natural culture which arises from the individual that is not enforced from a power above the individual. The former is less consensual than the latter; remember the importance of consent in a civil society. So the propagandistic and top down approach of culture is not civil and therefore ought not be political. Then you have the natural and individual approach to culture which can never be enforced by a power above the individual with policies, lest it becomes propagandistic, and if something cannot be enforced by policy then it cannot be political. This means that one approach to culture is uncivil and the other is natural making its enforcement also uncivil.

Class is the last nonpolitical identity that I will go into detail about. Class is understood as differences in material possession; yes there can be religious classes and that would go under religion, but even societies like India, that have religious class systems, also have a class system based on material ownership/standard of living. When it comes to material ownership there are two ways this can come about. The first is inheritance and the second is meritoriousness. Remember specialization from before. Someone could specialize in a lucrative industry and earn money for their merit and productivity, assuming no funny business. Then there is inheritance which can start out as the transference of wealth from a meritorious laborer to an unmerited brat. This inheritor could then become meritorious but sadly the usual case is that they stay a brat and spend the money on speculation and other people’s labor which they reap excess rewards they did not deserve by effort. Some squander their inheritance with no effort and their predecessor’s efforts were for nothing, which is the usual case given how many wealthy families rise and fall over time, but the class system remains the same.

The reason why this should not be political, meaning classes should not be subsidized, bailed out, or receive any kind of benefits or social admiration is because those who are meritorious will earn their wealth themselves and would not require aid while those who are bratty inheritors don’t deserve aid.

These entities, collectives, and identities act like political societies do but that does not mean that they are; similarly a virus acts like life does and yet isn't life itself. These societal viruses must be kept in check and should never dictate the structure or sovereignty of governance.

Nation States

When multiple city states discovered the power they had when they collaborated, they formed the first nation state. Remember all of the principles that have applied thus far because they all continue in nations. When one city state seizes the identity of the nation for themselves and places itself above all others they form an empire. Rome was an empire when it was still a republic because the city of Roma is what branched out and conquered other cities to subjugate them into their nation. When a family seized power for themselves, Rome became a dynasty as the city of Roma lost influence and was no longer the center of Rome especially after Constantine. The republic itself could be considered as an oligarchy instead of the republic. So Rome went from a dynasty under the Tarquins, to an oligarchy with some reforms, to an oligarchic empire when the city started to expand, to a dynastic empire when Augustus became emperor, to just a dynasty when the city lost its significance. Keep in mind how I am using these terms cause this is not how they are usually used. An empire is when a city state embodies the identity of the nation and puts other city states beneath it. When a tribe does that, they are an oligarchy. When a family does that they are a dynasty. When an individual does that they are a tyrant. Just a note, these different levels i.e. individual, family, tribe, city, nation etc. are what I call levels of sovereignty and a civil society would not let one level become despotic and seize the other levels.

The main issue Rome’s government had, other than constant civil war, was that the government was designed to run a city, and it kept that design even after becoming more than a city. The consulship that existed after the fall of the Tarquins was the same consulship that Julius Caesar was a part of over four hundred years later. The Romans did not understand that their level of sovereignty had changed dramatically and therefore they could not make the necessary reforms to organize being a nation which is why most people today don’t consider Rome to be a nation even though it was larger and even wealthier than a lot of nations today.

Some political thinkers at the time and place of Rome did start to discuss this problem albeit not as directly as I am now. Cicero comes to mind and especially two of his works called The Laws and On the Republic.

A proper nation, as all proper societies, would not allow any subordinate level of society to become despotic and this requires a well regulated system of governance. When the city state was the sovereign level it had sovereign power but when the nation was formed it was no longer the sovereign meaning that sovereign power needed to be granted to the new sovereign, the nation. Just as the individual is sovereign in nature and has to relinquish its natural rights or sovereignty that could violate the trust of society, so too does each level of society when they are no longer the sovereign. The city state must give up any rights it has that would violate the trust in the nation.

One of these rights, although despotic, is the right to violate individual rights. Now in a civil society a city state would not have this right since it would have been abrogated, but there never has been nor ever will be a civil society and so we are left to deal with despotic societies in varying degrees. Take slavery, the clearest example of despotism, which many states allowed and even enforced to protect their economic interests. A civil state would have abrogated slavery so according to civil theory those states did not have the right to protect slavery. Since those states did not have the right to protect slavery, when the federal government stepped in to end slavery, the federal government was not violating state’s rights, because those states did not have that right in the first place. Same thing with racial discrimination; when the federal government stepped into state’s affairs, it was not violating state’s rights because those states did not have the right to violate individual rights on the basis of race.

A proper civil society would know and keep the civil rights of individuals safe from any despot, know and keep the granted rights of a family, know and keep the granted rights of a tribe (local), know and keep the granted rights of a city state (state), and know and keep the granted rights of the nation state (federal), while at the same time figuring out which rights should be abrogated. This theory and praxis is called statecraft. This should use the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and analysis to help us understand social science. Perhaps the current laws around families are flawed and we should reform them, perhaps the specific division of powers is flawed and they need amending, perhaps some rights need to be abrogated entirely. Amending America is attempting to be a place for public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations on these issues.

Civilization State

The nation state is currently the highest level of sovereignty, but there are talks about civilization states which some seem to be in the fetal stage of development. Some say that there already are civilization states. A potential civilization state would be the European Union, if it develops a continental sovereign which right now does not exist. If an individual nation seizes the identity of the civilization where that one nation is superior to its fellow nations then that is called a hegemony. All of the principles mentioned thus far apply to this scenario.

Universal State

The formation of civilized states may or may not happen, but what is inevitable is the creation of the universal state. Societies throughout human history are developing larger, more complex, systems of governance. These transitions from one level of sovereignty to the next might take centuries or millennia but they have taken place and so what is this development heading towards? The universal state would encompass all civil creatures, right now that is just people since no other creature can participate in statecraft. We can see this occurring right now, the UN, as basic and inefficient as it is now, is just the fetal stage of development for future collaboration. Remember, the reason for collaboration that led to all of the other levels of society is that people became more secure in nature. Well, the UN, the collaboration of all nations, would make all people more secure since people would no longer have to fear nations fighting which makes them more secure in nature. This is inevitable, but there is no guarantee that the current UN is structured in such a manner to realize the universal state. We must use statecraft, and in turn look towards the development of subordinate societies to see what common trends have occurred for their development that may be in effect for the development of the universal state. If civilization states occur first, and if one of those seizes the identity of the universal state then that would be a dominion.

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