The Rule of Law

Quote of the Day| Library of Economics and Liberty

A free circulation of labour from employment to employment involves an incessant competition between man and man, which causes constant quarrels,—some of which, as we see in the daily transactions of trades unions, easily run into violence; and also a constant series of new bargains, one differing from another, some of which are sure to be broken, or said to be so, which makes disputes of another kind. The peace of society was exposed in early times to greater danger from this source than now, because the passions of men were then less under control than now. ‘In the simple and violent times,’ as they have been well called, ‘which we read of in our Bibles,’ people struck one another, and people killed one another, for very little matters as we should think them. And the most efficient counteractive machinery which now preserves that peace, then did not exist. We have now in the midst of us a formed, elaborate, strong government, which is incessantly laying down the best rules which it can find to prevent trouble under changing circumstances, and which constantly applies a sharp pervading force running through society to prevent and punish breaches of these rules.’ We are so familiar with the idea of a government inherently possessing and daily exercising both executive and legislative power, that we scarcely comprehend the possibility of a nation existing without them. But if we attend to the vivid picture given in the Book of Judges of an early stage in Hebrew society, we shall see that there was then absolutely no legislative power, and only a faint and intermittent executive power…. I.13 (paragraph number)

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