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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Best-Selling Book of All Time?

Probably not; there are no broody teen vampires in it.  But I am still proud and pleased to announce the publication of Sovereignty, Emergency, Legality, edited by the indefatigable Austin Sarat and published by Cambridge University Press.  Here's a description:

It is widely recognized that times of national emergency put legality to its greatest test. In such times we rely on sovereign power to rescue us, to hold the danger at bay. Yet that power can and often does threaten the values of legality itself. Sovereignty, Emergency, Legality examines law's complex relationship to sovereign power and emergency conditions. It puts today's responses to emergency in historical and institutional context, reminding readers of the continuities and discontinuities in the ways emergencies are framed and understood at different times and in different situations. And, in all this, it suggests the need to be less abstract in the way we discuss sovereignty, emergency, and legality. This book concentrates on officials and the choices they make in defining, anticipating, and responding to conditions of emergency as well as the impact of their choices on embodied subjects, whether citizen or stranger.

Contributors include David Dyzenhaus, Sumi Cho, Pat Gudridge, and Michel Rosenfeld.  I have a short piece in the collection called "'Order' in the Court," commenting on Gudridge's piece.  Make sure your librarian orders a copy post-haste. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on March 10, 2010 at 12:16 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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I read that other civilizations outside the earth are watching us, they can not interfere with our lives, as they have a galactic code among the many civilizations, that forbid them to interact with us.

Posted by: buy viagra | Aug 10, 2010 3:34:12 PM

While moments of emergency seem to undermine the value of legality, it is worth noting that it is also true that regimes that have been historically most secure (e.g. pre-Communist dynastic China) have been among those least oriented towards rule of law as opposed to rule of man, while post-emergency regimes (e.g. post-revolutionary America and post-revolutionary France) have been among the most legality oriented of regimes.

Legality is a tool of the weak against the powerful, and the rise of democracy and legal regimes have historically been concessions offered by rulers in exchange for support (frequently fiscal). Regimes that don't need the support of the governed fiscally (e.g. oil rich states like Saudi Arabia) tend to be very little concerned with legality.

The first known written language (Sumerian cruniform) was invented as a means of maintaining tax records (also an important purpose of other early writing systems in Mycenea and Meso-America), and it is probably not coincidental that the first written laws (e.g. the Code of Hamurrabi) appear at about the same time as the first organized systems of taxation.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Mar 10, 2010 6:35:16 PM

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