The Rule of Law Does Not Exist

The rule of law is an inconvenient concept for rulers. King Charles II thought that he was above the law, as did King Henry VIII. Dictators often pay lip service to the rule of law, and act as if they were to law. However the concept of law being a force which limits rulers powers is an old concept and was developed in what are now the Western Democracies as a means of controlling the excesses of tyrants and making them accountable to those they rule. Unfortunately in most western democracies the rule of law is ignored from time to time when law and justice proves and obstacle in achieving political aims.

Sometimes lip service is paid to the rule of law. When the USA reclassified prisoners of war (having declared a war on terror and terrorists) as “enemy combatants, they were seeking to create by fictional means things that the law will not permit them to do. Thus laws are ignored by lawmakers.

We have seen this happen in many guises. It seems that more than 5,000 people have been killed by US drones; many of them were executions ordered by the US government, omitting the inconvenience of a trial. We have seen those responsible for leading nations into illegal wars feted and enriched while those leading nations which were at the receiving end of illegal wars being executed after a summary trial.

Perhaps we should simply recognise that the rule of law does not exist. It cannot exist in relative terms or with exceptions and loopholes. Either we have the rule of law or we do not, and at the moment we do not have it.

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