New PDF release: Democracy and the Rule of Law

By José María Maravall, Adam Przeworski

A world crew of experts from the fields of legislations, politics, economics, and philosophy handle the query of why governments act or don't act in accordance with legislation. The authors interpret the rule of thumb of legislations as a strategic selection of actors with robust pursuits, instead of as an exogenous constraint on politicians. the guideline of legislation emerges while no workforce is powerful sufficient to dominate the others, and political actors search to unravel their conflicts by means of recourse to legislation. legislation is hence deeply rooted in politics.

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Finally, it makes a difference if the public believes that rules are being enforced fairly, so that privileged groups with special access are not allowed to exempt themselves egregiously from laws that should apply to all. ”16 Machiavelli makes the same point, formulating it as an observation about the perversity of human psychology. Important actors will tend to accept a decision if they had a hand in making it. To increase the likelihood that the consuls would accept the authority of the dictator, the Roman “constitution” gave the consuls the right to choose the dictator.

Uncoordinated action is futile; and joint action is difficult to organize. Indeed, the privileged can successfully scheme to exacerbate the collective action problems of the disadvantaged, or prevent their alleviation, by various strategies of divide and rule. But even when the poor and the weak have a negligible capacity for collective action, the rich and the powerful may be “compelled” to surrender some degree of wealth, if not power, in their favor. Even when lower-class rebellions have no chance of succeeding, for instance, they can give a big headache to ruling groups, who may therefore decide that subsidizing bread and circuses is an efficient way to preempt messy urban disorder.

When a broad and diverse plurality of groups possesses some degree of political leverage, ordinary citizens will be able to add legal instruments to the extralegal means that they usually employ to protect their interests. Such a pluralistic society is as close as we can get to the rule of law, although it remains highly imperfect. A government that attempts to become responsive to such a cacophony of complaints and aspirations, for one thing, risks collapsing into incoherence. But the most conspicuous disorder of such a system, according to Rousseau, is asymmetrical pluralism.

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