Neither law nor democracy can survive where the empire of force dominates. The authors in this book agree that the relation between law and democracy in the U.S. has been deteriorating badly, and that such changes are visible in a wide array of legal and governmental phenomena, such as: legal teaching, judicial opinions, legal practice, international relations, legal scholarship, and congressional deliberations. In each of these legal/political/cultural intersections, traditional expectations and behaviors have been transformed or thwarted, and these changes pose a threat to law and democracy in our country and in our culture.The editors, and the individual authors, trace these specific examples of normative decline to 'the empire of force' (a term borrowed from Simone Weil who applies it not only to the brute force of the kind used by police and soldiers, but, more broadly, to the underlying ways of thinking and talking and imagining that make that sort of force possible, including propaganda, unexamined ideology, sentimental cliches, and politics by buzzwords).The editors and authors of these essays agree not only about the underlying crisis and its causes but also the proposition that neither law nor democracy can survive where the empire of force dominates.
Nonetheless, each of the chapters manages to convey a basis for optimism despite its focus on a specific example of legal, political or cultural degeneration.
H. Jefferson Powell is a professor of Law at Duke Law School and has served in both the federal and state governments, as a deputy assistant attorney general and as Principal Deputy Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice, and as special counsel to the Attorney General of North Carolina. James Boyd White is a professor of English and an adjunct professor of classical studies as well as the L. Hart Wright Collegiate Professor of Law at the University of Michigan.
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