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Friday, October 11

More on the rule of law and a road map to a police state

As I noted in the post about the original police state and the rule of law, the United States is fast approaching the outer banks of its success as a democracy because its form of government has generated such a huge body of laws. Even with the use of private contractors, even if the U.S. population is doubled through fast-tracked citizenship for immigrants, we are running out of adults to administer all the legislation churned out at the federal, state, and municipal levels of government.

Yet this problem is not even publicly acknowledged because the rule of law is above debate in the United States.

If I recall there are certain anarchists who argue in principled fashion against the rule of law but I think any solutions they propose as a substitute are utopian. It's much the same with Libertarians; they want fewer laws, less regulation, smaller government, but they do not question the necessity for the rule of law. And they have no alternative to propose to this rule.

As for the rest of the American body politic, in this regard it evokes the parable of the man who loses his keys in a darkened house, but searches outside for them because the light is better out there. All national political debates about the size of U.S. government are ridiculous because they don't grapple with the inherent contradiction between the demand for smaller government and the very foundation of the United States government -- the rule of law, which of necessity requires regulatory regimes to oversee the laws, thus inexorably increasing the size of government.

In the earlier post I alluded to a possible way out of the conundrum: make a clear distinction between the principle of the rule of law and a literal rule by endless legislation. Yet putting the distinction into practice would, I think, mean a radical change in American politics.

But even if the debates got on track, even if a temporary moratorium on lawmaking could be enacted in the effort to slow the rate of legislation -- or if some kind of patchwork solution could be created, such as making a law that before a new law and its regulatory regime are created, an old one has to be retired, this would not address one of the most troubling negative consequences of an unrestricted rule of legislation:

The United States isn't a closed system; the very success in the USA of relying on a rule of law to protect freedom has been replicated in virtually every free country during the past century. Moreover, those nations that still have authoritarian governments are pressured by the U.S. and other major democratic governments to adopt or more broadly adopt the rule of law. The pressure is not only in the form of jawboning. Any government that wants greater say in global trade issues must work toward implementing or expanding the rule of law in its country.

If all that sounds like a great idea, there is a catch. The rule of law is being converted into a global regulatory regime with totalitarian implications. This regime is based on applying the rule of law to legislation written by groups of nations and legislative bodies over which Americans (and no single peoples) have any control.

And yet the very Americans who complain the loudest about this burgeoning global regulatory regime are the same Americans who would defend the rule of law with their lives! Something has to give here, or something has to be clarified and very quickly.

There is another problem with an unrestricted rule by legislation, which I mentioned in the earlier post. Once there's a regulation for everything you're looking at a society of lawbreakers. That state of affairs is a road map to a police state.

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