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It is completely absurd to suggest that a despotic government has no concept of the rule of law, but rests rather on the caprice of the ruler . . . The despotically governed state often does reflect a sort of concept of rule of law as a basis of its state order. Denying it the character of a legal order is thus a cheapening of the analysis, a sort of natural-law naïveté or exaggeration . . . What some may see as arbitrariness, others will see as the lawful authority of the autocrat, his right to seize all decision-making to himself, to dictate to the subordinated organs without limitation how they are to behave and dispose of matters, and to stipulate to them or to modify the norms they are to apply, with general or specific levels of applicability. But such a state is also a sort of state of law, even if severely disadvantaged . . . The drive in a modern rule-of-law state for a dictatorship provides evidence of this.
–Hans Kelsen, Allgemeine Staatslehre pp. 335-36 (1925) (S.H. transl.) (Hans Kelsen describes the theory of the Unitary Executive, and locates it properly in the bossom of despotic state theory, and as a step on the way to dictatorship).
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”