I’m getting sick of this “debate” on the rule of law (or laws in general). It’s a recurring theme marred in confusion. So I will try to make this as simple as possible. Just let this “debate” die in this thread because it is distracting, boring and I’m just goddamn sick of it.
I have always defined what I meant by what I think this phrase means. It may be different from how others have used it but that’s OK, because there are many definitions that have been used throughout time. But if you, if you want to criticize my definition, you should at least point to where exactly you disagree (offer reasons, evidence, and a alternative framework and support that framework with reasons and evidence so forth to show that it is better). It’s insincere and confused to talk in such general and mucky way replete with post modern jargon thinking that is any kind of criticism when it is just double talk.
Anyway, as I have said many times before in posts and comments, what I understand to be the rule of law is simply
“The desire or value that laws should be as non arbitrary, the least unfair, the least unbiased, the most transparent and the most beneficial for all in society as possible”
We will call this definition “GROL” (or the General Rule of Law) because it is what I believe to be what underlies (the bare bones if you will) much of the common notions of this concept without the disputed details.
Now I ask what exactly do you disagree with this definition? If you say that you’ve got no problem with my definition, then you would have to take back every criticism directed at my posts and comments of the rule of law because it is just this definition that I have been using (which I made explicit many times and am getting sick of stating it over and over). In essence, you would be tacitly admitting that you have been attacking a strawman argument all along.
If you say that you don’t think that GROL is a good idea for society then you need to offer specific criticisms. What exactly in that definition do you disagree with? What reasons and evidence supports your disagreements? What is your proposed alternative framework and why is it better? Since no one has made a specific criticism in this fashion, I am forced to suspect that there is a confusion on behalf of the criticizers. They are conflating different things with my usage of the term. In fact, I’m convinced that many of you don’t have any coherent and clear notions in your mind when you criticize the rule of law perhaps criticizing no one at all other than an imaginary target.
So you either agree that GROL is a plausible idea and ought to be implemented for society (in which case you’d also be admitting that you had misplaced your previous criticisms) or you criticize it (and not some fuzzy, obfuscated version that is not mine nor anyone else’s as well I suspect).
I’ve heard many of you say that the rule of law is this and that (such as that it is complex, subject to different norms, only an ideal etc). I don’t see how any of this is relevant to my notion. First of all, it had better be complex. A simple legal system is one that almost certainly is deficient because humans and human society are so complex. It had better account for different norms too, obviously. And obviously it is an ideal and obviously it is also a tool. I don’t see these as criticisms, just stating the obvious. A criticism would to be show exactly what it is that is wrong about it and then proceed to offer a plausible alternative to fair, unbiased, non arbitrary laws. None have given any such thing for the foreseeable future.
Maybe one day the world would be full of saints and sages and there’d be no need for any kind of laws (punitive laws anyway) and thus there would be no rule of law (again, in at least a punitive sense of the law). But the question is not some hypothetical future, the question that human beings must grapple with and what China and the world must grapple with is how to live life now.
If you wish to criticize someone’s else’s definition, then criticize them and be just as specific. What specifically about their definition do you disagree, etc and why.
This is about as dumbed-down as I can make of this. If you are still are confused about the debate then I will never be of help whatever I say.
This is my last post on HH. I had been thinking about leaving for a long time due to what I see as a clear ideological bent of many posters and a sensitivity to criticism. There is just too much difference of values and opinion between us and it’s time to part ways. I don’t think my values are reflective of much of yours (both other editors and commenters). I want to make it very clear that I am not associated with any of the other posters. My views are my own. I will start my own blog.