THE RULE OF LAW by Robert Paul--Ed. Wolff


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Though it rarely casts about for cheap ""relevance,"" this is a supremely pertinent anthology, as well as a rigorous and penetrating one. The first two essays, by Howard Zinn and Edgar Friedenberg, anatomize the systematic injustices in our legal system, going beyond courts-hurt-the-poor rhetoric to examine how laws serve the status quo. Wolff makes a strong case for his views that the very concepts of ""violence"" and ""nonviolence"" are philosophically incoherent, and that questions like ""When is violence permissible?"" function as ideological screens or highlights for conflicting political positions. In a group of ""diagnostic"" articles, Anthony Wallace gives analytic starch to the classic problem of ends, means, and revolutionary violence, and Boorstin displays an unaccustomed subtlety in his discussion of the ""instrumental"" view of law versus the ""indwelling"" view characteristic of ""defensive, narcissistic"" groups such as the Quakers, the Old South, and Middle America. Stanley Diamond provides an excellent precis of the sociological concept of law arising in the breach of customary order, with legalism increasing in proportion to political division. In the ""jurisprudential"" section, Ronald Dworkin and Lon Fuller deal with ""customary law"" in different ways, relating it to radical/conservative perceptions of dissent and to the genetic, moral, and institutional context of legal sanctions. Bracketing the relatively lightweight wind-up essay by Richard Barnet on foreign-policy disaffection as the key to ""the crisis of the nation-state,"" the book is profuse in its rationality and its utility for a broad readership.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1971
Publisher: Simon & Schuster