Sunday, 22 March 2015

Decline of the Rule of Law

By F.A. Hayek

Political wisdom, dearly bought by the bitter experience of generations, is often lost through the gradual change in the meaning of the words which express its maxims.  Though the phrases themselves may continue to receive lip service, they are slowly denuded of their original significance until they are dropped as empty and commonplace.  Finally, an ideal for which people have passionately fought in the past falls into oblivion because it lacks a generally understood name. If the history of political concepts is in general of interest only to the specialist, in such situations there is often no other way of discovering what is happening in our time than to go back to the source in order to recover the original meaning of the debased verbal coin which we still use.  Today this is certainly true of the conception of the Rule of Law which stood for the Englishman’s ideal of liberty, but which seems now to have lost both its meaning and its appeal.

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