The Rule of Law
edited by Robert Paul Wolff

Essays about the legitimacy of law. Howard Zinn's essay "The Conspiracy of Law" is excellent. He shows that the legal system serves special, vested interests.

Edgar Friedenberg's essay "The Side Effects of the Legal Process" takes a realistic view of the legal system in the USA and how unsuited it is for producing just decisions.

Wolff's "Violence and the Law" takes the anarchist position that the state has no legitimate authority and that when it enacts unjust laws, a moral individual should evade the law and (unlike a conscience objector) evade the punishment too, if possible. This essay is flawed by comments that equate the use of money with the use of force as immoral means of attaining ends.

Stanley Diamond's "The Rule of Law versus the Order of Custom" takes an anti-state, pro-primitive kinship society view of the development of legal systems. It has some good stuff.

Richard Barnett's "Twilight of the Nation State" is really an attack on American foreign policy and the effect the policy has on Americans' belief in the legitimacy of the administration. This essay is out of place and dated. It was written during the heat of protest against the Vietnam war.

The remaining essays are long-winded and boring.

Year Read: 1985


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