How does law rule? In line with the optimistic worldview of earlier eras, many
continue to maintain that law rules by applying equally to all; by speaking
clearly and specifically; by warning before punishing; and through a system-
atic, institutional separation of its power, self-governed by mutual checks and
balances. Others claim that all of the above are deceitful myths, opium for the
masses. According to this critical view, the fictitious common notion of law’s
rule serves the hegemonic ruling classes in concealing their unlimited rule,
feeding the false rhetoric that disguises the true social reality of power. In
reality, therefore, law’s rule means e≈cient legal preservation of existing
social structures and power dynamics. In this sense, law rules through sys-
tematic concealment of its true nature and social function, achieved through
the use of manipulative rhetoric of neutrality, fairness, professionalism, and
equality before the law. Some believe there is some truth to each of these
views, and that the specific answer depends on specific circumstances at any
given time and place.
Whatever our view of the law, the fact is that, to some extent, in many parts
of the world it does rule. It rules through constitutions, legislation, judicial
decisions, contracts, and marriages. It rules through legal and semi-legal
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