Two Great Quotes on the Rule of Law

If you’ve ever heard the term “the Rule of Law”, you may never fully appreciate it without having read F.A. Hayek’s seminal work “The Road to Serfdom”. His analysis of what the Rule of Law truly means in the conservative sense opens one’s eyes to the full sense of this phrase and its impact on individual freedom and self-determination.  One might otherwise go through life thinking one is free and liberated, when in fact one might well be on the way to becoming ever more enslaved by the growing uncertainty forced upon the masses by the arbitrary decisions of elite power brokers and unelected czars.  Here are two excellent quotes from chapter 6 of this book, entitled “Planning and the Rule of Law”:

‎formal rules…do not aim at the wants and needs of particular people. They are intended to be merely instrumental in the pursuit of people’s various individual ends. And they are, or ought to be, intended for such long periods that it is impossible to know whether they will assist particular people more than others…Formal rules are thus merely instrumental in the sense that they are expected to be useful to yet unknown people, for purposes for which these people will decide to use them, and in circumstances which cannot be foreseen in detail. In fact, that we do not know their concrete effect, that we do not know what particular ends these rules will further, or which particular people they will assist, that they are merely given the form most likely on the whole to benefit all the people affected by them, is the most important criterion of formal rules in the sense in which we here use this term.

If the individuals are to be able to use their knowledge effectively in making plans, they must be able to predict actions of the state which may affect these plans. But if the actions of the state are to be predictable, they must be determined by rules fixed independently of the concrete circumstances which can be neither foreseen nor taken into account beforehand: and the particular effects of such actions will be unpredictable. If, on the other hand, the state were to direct the individual’s actions so as to achieve particular ends, its action would have to be decided on the basis of the full circumstances of the moment and would therefore be unpredictable. Hence the familiar fact that the more the state “plans,” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.


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