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23 Law & Phil. 1 (2004)

handle is hein.journals/lwphil23 and id is 1 raw text is: ANDREI MARMOR

(Accepted 15 July 2003)
My grandmother used to say that too much, even of a good thing,
is bad for you. She was no philosopher, my grandmother; she just
used to say this when I asked for another serving of her wonderful
home-made jam. Needless to say, she would not have connected her
thoughts about the good with the rule of law. In fact, I think she lived
her ninety-odd years without knowing what the rule of law is. She
lived through most of the 20th century in Romania, where rule of
law was not a very popular political slogan. Nowadays, however,
when the Eastern European countries have freed themselves of
communism and wish to join the western world, implementing the
rule of law is one of the main social changes that they seek to estab-
lish. Perhaps nowhere is the rule of law so cherished as in those
places where it was largely ignored for decades. Indeed, at least in
the Western world the rule of law has long been associated with the
idea of a well ordered society. We criticize countries which do not
strictly adhere to the rule of law, and we pride ourselves for having
it.1 In spite of its popularity, however, the various ideas associated
with the rule of law are often conflicting and not infrequently rather
confused. When a complicated idea becomes a popular political
slogan, this is not surprising.
The most common mistake about the rule of law is to confuse it
with the ideal of the rule of good law, the kind of law, for instance,
that respects freedom and human dignity.2 But of course, understood
1 Needless to say, admiration of the rule of law is not universal; Marxists
have been traditionally hostile to the rule of law, and more recently, other crit-
ical theories have come to share this hostility. See, for example, C. Sypnowich,
Utopia and the Rule of Law, in D. Dyzenhaus (ed.), Recrafting the Rule of Law:
The Limits of Legal Order (Hart Publishing, 1999), p. 179.
2 In spite of his awareness of this danger, it is difficult to avoid the impres-
sion that Hayek fell into this trap. See: Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
(Chicago, 1944, 1972), Chapter 6.
Lu Law and Philosophy 23: 1-43, 2004.
IT © 2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

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