Not everyone is master of his own affairs. Chiefs and leaders who are masters of the affairs of men are few in comparison with the rest. As a rule, man must by necessity be dominated by someone else. If the domination is kind and just and the people under it are not oppressed by its laws and restrictions, they are guided by the courage or cowardice that they possess in themselves. They are satisfied with the absence of any restraining power. Self-reliance eventually becomes a quality natural to them. They would not know anything else. If, however,the domination with its laws is one of brute force and intimidation, it breaks their fortitude and deprives them of their power of resistance as a result of the inertness that develops in the souls of the oppressed, as we shall explain.
When laws are (enforced) by means of punishment, they completely destroy fortitude, because. the use of punishment against someone who cannot defend himself generates in that person a feeling of humiliation that, no doubt, must break his fortitude. When laws are (intended to serve the purposes of) education and instruction and are applied from childhood on, they have to some degree the same effect,because people then grow up in fear and docility and consequently do not rely on their own fortitude.
For this (reason), greater fortitude is found among the savage Arab Bedouins than among people who are subject to laws. Furthermore, those who rely on laws and are dominated by them from the very beginning of their education and instruction in the crafts, sciences, and religious matters, are thereby deprived of much of their own fortitude. They can scarcely defend themselves at all against hostile acts. This is the case with students, whose occupation it is to study and to learn from teachers and religious leaders, and who constantly apply themselves to instruction and education in very dignified gatherings. This situation and the fact that it destroys the power of resistance and fortitude must be understood.
It is no argument against the (statement just made) that the men around Muhammad observed the religious laws, and yet did not experience any diminution of their fortitude, but possessed the greatest possible fortitude. When the Muslims got their religion from the Lawgiver (Muhammad), the restraining influence came from themselves, as a result of the encouragement and discouragement he gave them in the Qur'an. It was not a result of technical instruction or scientific education. (The laws) were the laws and precepts of the religion, which they received orally and which their firmly rooted (belief in) the truth of the articles of faith caused them to observe. Their fortitude remained unabated, and it was not corroded by education or authority. 'Umar said, "Those who are not educated(disciplined) by the religious law are not educated (disciplined) by God." (This statement expresses) 'Umar's desire that everyone should have his restraining influence in himself. It also expresses his certainty that the Lawgiver (Muhammad) knew best what is good for mankind.
(The influence of) religion, then, decreased among men, and they came to use restraining laws. The religious law became a branch of learning and a craft to be acquired through instruction and education. People turned to sedentary life and assumed the character trait of submissiveness to law. This led to a decrease in their fortitude.
It has thus become clear that governmental and educational laws destroy fortitude, because their restraining influence is something that comes from outside.The religious laws, on the other hand, do not destroy fortitude, because their restraining influence is something inherent. Therefore, governmental and educational laws influence sedentary people, in that they weaken their souls and diminish their stamina, because they have to suffer (their authority) both as children and as adults. The Bedouins, on the other hand, are not in the same position,because they live far away from the laws of government, instruction, and education.'--Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, Chapter 2, Section 6. (Translated by Franz Rosenthal.)
According to Ibn Khaldun (recall) the institution of justice, which he thinks in its origin co-extensive with properly functioning royal authority, originates only after the division of labor has generated some surplus worth fighting over; it follows from the need to prevent people from harming each other in virtue of our innate aggressiveness and tendency toward mutual harm. Aggressiveness is not all bad; the properly cultivated version (when royal authority is "kind and just") is a form of spirited-ness (akin to the greek thumos) or courage, which he calls fortitude.
Before I continue, I must clarify that Ibn Khaldun, like his great successors (Hume, Smith, Marx) identifies (at least three) major stages of of economic and social development: (i) the necessary civilizations of nomadic tribes (who live near starvation levels); (ii) sedentary agricultural societies, which generate sufficient surplus to live comfortably; and (iii) commercial cities (which can double as seats of royal power) where, when taxes are kept low, the arts and sciences can flourish amidst luxury goods. Originally this scheme characterizes a historical-logical, even teleological development from (i) to (iii), but in practice the three forms of society can live alongside each other at the same time and have complex modes of interaction (which can be captured in familiar patterns of development).
Not unlike the Roman historians and their great admirer, Rousseau, Ibn Khaldun treats luxury as a source of corruption. (The story is more complicated than that sentence allows because he also recognizes that a society with arts and sciences has definite advantages, including military ones.) But what is especially notable is that Ibn Khaldun treats the effects of civilization as a form of domestication. And that is because, according to Ibn Khaldun, it is constitutive of advanced civilization that it is characterized by a great number of influential social institutions which impose the rule of, what we may call, external law upon its subjects; these institutions shape the inhabitants of wealthy places into the compliant character types needed by the advanced division of labor. They do so with a great deal of force and generate docile population types. The force is not recognized as such because, unlike the tyrant's brutality and willful unpredictability, it is continuous and (to introduce a touch of anachronism) rule following.
If one rejects civilization and tyranny, one may think one is left with anarchism. And indeed, ordinarily, Bedouin life is characterized by an anarchic "freedom from authority" without "subservience to authority." (Chapter 2, section 25) Again anticipating Rousseau and Adam Smith, Ibn Khaldun associates some of the noblest qualities with this kind of anarchic, savage character who is free and equal to his peers and who can endure seemingly limitless hardship.
The main problem with such anarchic freedom is that it is a barrier to joint action. To make joint action possible another species of law is needed; freely accepted religion helps solve coordination problems and supplies a shared end worth dying for. For, as Ibn Khaldun points out not all forms of law extinguish fortitude. A self-imposed law, which is the product of belief in the truth of its principles, can enhance naturally existing fortitude. When it coincides with what Ibn Khaldun elsewhere calls group feeling (mutual sympathy/co-affectation), groups animated by freely, self-imposed laws become invincible on the battlefield.* With this in place, Ibn Khaldun can explain how economically backward Bedouin Arab tribes, could defeat two ancient and numerically superior superpowers in an extraordinary short period.+
The point here is not just the non-trivial understanding -- recently popular thanks to Foucault's domestication and application of Nietzschean ideas -- of the embrace of civilization as a form of self-domestication and open-ended indoctrination into servitude (which gets mislabeled as 'education'). There is a more surprising and salient point lurking here; while civilized man is in chains, the (savage's) free embrace of a law that one takes to be true just is constitutive of autonomy. And so prophecy is a prerequisite for the very possibility of autonomy.