Would you rather live under bad laws or under no laws of all? Why? State your preference and support it with facts and reasoning.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Except in the most extreme circumstances, I would rather live under bad laws than under no laws at all.  The reason for this is that I am more likely to have basic security under bad laws than I am in a situation where there are no laws at all.

When we speak of a situation in which there are bad laws, we are generally speaking of laws that allow the government to infringe on some of our basic rights.  As an example of this, we might say that China has bad laws because their laws allow their government to tightly censor the expression of their opinions.  For instance, their government does not allow them to engage in any public observation of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square.  It is undoubtedly bad to live in a situation in which basic rights such as the freedom of speech are so severely curtailed.

However, this is not nearly as bad as living in a situation where there are no laws at all.  If there are no laws at all, your property and your very life are in danger at all times.  If there are no laws at all, any person can come and take my property unless I am strong enough to keep them from doing so.  If someone comes to take my property, they might kill me if they are able to do so.  While bad laws like those in China are oppressive and wrong, at least they only take away rights.  They do not cause me to be completely insecure.  They do not create a situation in which I must constantly worry that I might be robbed or killed.

Of course, there are some circumstances in which bad laws are worse than no laws.  This includes cases in which the bad laws are directly aimed at me.  The clearest example of this is the laws of Nazi Germany.  For Jews and other despised groups, a complete lack of laws would have been better than Nazi laws.  Nazi laws specifically targeted them and allowed them to be killed without just cause by officials of the government.  They would have been better off if there had been no laws.

Thus, I would argue that bad laws are better than no laws except in the worst cases.  It is only preferable to have no laws if the laws are so bad that they put your property and your life in constant danger from the state.

robyn-bird96 | Student

I'll play the devil's advocate and would actually prefer no laws.  Even though there are no laws dictated by the government, which everyone else has argued it would be characterized by chaos and high crime rates, I actually believe that it would be the opposite.  Rousseau wrote in the Social Contract,  “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.”  This is in reference to:

Humans are essentially free, and were free in the State of Nature, but the ‘progress’ of civilization has substituted subservience to others for that freedom, through dependence, economic and social inequalities, and the extent to which we judge ourselves through comparisons with others.

This means that humans were free in a State of Nature, where there were no laws governing them.  He, along with Locke and Hobbes, argued that humans established a social contract by giving up certain rights in order to establish a government to ensure that our other rights are protected.  

Although Hobbes and Rousseau argued for a more rigid government, Locke believed that there should be a balance between the strength of the government and the rights of the people.  Locke argued that if a government fails to protect the rights of the people, then it should be overthrown.  A government with a set of bad laws ought to be overthrown.

And I believe that a return to a State of Nature wouldn't be as terrible as everyone makes it.  According to Locke, humans are naturally good, and I believe that stands.  If there are no laws, then people would establish unwritten laws among themselves that ensure there own safety.  Of course, there will always be people who would steal and kill others, but I believe that the majority of the population will forge their own alliances and give up rights to each other in order to stay safe.

rachellopez | Student

I would rather live under bad laws than no laws at all. If there were no laws at all set by the government the world would be chaos. Crimes rates would definitely rise because there would be no way to control what people do. For example, we have traffic laws to ensure safety on our roads, even though some are ignored, and without them there would be a lot more accidents out on the streets and more injuries to our people. We have laws for businesses to make sure a business does not get to powerful and become a monopoly, controlling everyone and everything. We have laws about voting, housing, money, and much more. Even if some "bad" laws may restrict our rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the long run our country is much more in control than it would be with no rules.

clyoon | Student

What kind of bad laws are you thinking about? I'd first like to know what the definition of your "bad laws" is. 

But no matter what, I prefer to live under bad laws than no laws. An anarchy is a very scary thing, and living under any kind of laws implies that a government exists. Living under no laws gives complete, assured freedom and one cannot trust all of humanity to abide by good deeds. One can expect more crimes to occur. More murders. More wars. More stealing. More abuse. More drugs and addictions. More damage. People who live impulsively can become threats to others when no laws exist to stop them from taking certain actions. Peoples' emotions can be expressed in any way and can threaten others' security and livelihood. Bad laws would still somehow prevent the potential of these threats and prevent such occurrences. These horrible things still happen. But the bad laws would just decrease their potentials and assure a little more security.

mchandrea | Student

In questions like this, it is always expected to choose a side and strongly support it. Allow me to explain both and then choose a stand.

Living under bad laws would mean that there is still a government. This would be extremely bad for the majority of the people but good for those on top of the government pyramid. These people who benefit from these bad laws would use their power to control small people and do everything to stay on top. For the average person like myself, I would be under laws that I do not like and that I would potentially break eventually. 

Living without laws at all, would result in anarchy. This world would be very chaotic and everything would literally be in shambles. Each person would do what they want regardless of anything. Nothing else will matter except for what each person wants. For example, if I hated someone so much, it would not be illegal to kill them. Everyone will just end up hurting each other.

So for me, I would rather live with bad laws, than with no laws at all. The human person could change these bad laws into good ones but a conceited mind without rules could have endless potentials.

parama9000 | Student

Bad laws are ambiguous, but even so, I believe that it is better to live under no laws.

Bad laws is defined to range from government's self-interest in maintaining power etc., to unreasonably harsh laws, then to laws that take away one's right. It could also mean a flawed legal system

In any of these cases, if you view the law to be "bad", it could also inherently mean that such laws can be twisted or manipulated- in which case would living under no laws not be better, in that life is less complicated? Life with no laws would also force people to make a decision based on morals, ethics etc. instead of stretching the boundaries of the law.

Lastly, a sordid point of view. Since there are no laws, Darwinism comes into play, and only the fittest of the human race will survive; one may thus argue that having no laws is better.

Ada Sison | Student

Given a choice, I would rather live under bad laws rather than live without law.

"No laws at all" or rather anarchy, would not be good at all. In anarchy there is no public authority or state. This would encourage lawlessness, crime, and basically degrading of human society. Examples of countries that have been under anarchy (usually during a civil war/revolution) would be Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Bad laws" would most likely mean that the government has laws that are not good for the people living in the nation (freedoms, social movement) but are good for the government/state. Examples of this could be communist nations such as North Korea or China. I would choose living under bad laws, it would also imply that there is a model for good laws and therefore room to eventually improve the situation.

summerdayz | Student

I would rather live in a nation with bad rules than one with none simply because if you have no rules to follow at all, it will be hard to survive. Crime that isnt actually crime because there are no laws against it is the main horror in many many movies these days. 

jess1999 | Student

I would rather live under bad laws than no laws. Imagine having no laws at all, where anyone can do whatever they want. Things such as murder, rape, and drugs that are illegal today would be legal if there were no laws. People will start fearing for their safety since anything can happen. Envision walking around on the street, and not knowing if you'll make it home safely.

Although bad laws would probably restrict our freedom, at least everything will be organized. We might not be able to have freedom of speech or our rights anymore, but at least we are able to know that we and our family members would be safe.

I would rather live with laws, rather then live with no laws at all, because if there were laws, even really bad ones, they would be useful in maintaining some aspect of society, whereas without laws, humans would go bezerk, knowing everything they couldn't do before, they can now do it and get away with it. We would be madmen, and i believe that the scenario would depict something similar to the purge. 

CaitlynnReeves | Student

I would rather live under anarchy than bad laws. While I would be forfeiting some measure of protection at least I wouldn't be giving up any liberties. Bad laws will never stand in the long run but anarchy is temporary as well. Society has a way of creeping in and organizing things even in the abscence of formal government. Modern humans are spoiled to organization and I have faith that eventually a general code of conduct would be adopted. Living under no laws seems like a win/win: keep all your liberties and civilization presses on (albeit with a slight detour, but still).