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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
Length in days of the sentence Russian blogger Alexei Navalny served for leading an opposition rally last year:
Israeli researchers developed software that evaluates the depression of bloggers.
A teenager in Singapore was convicted of obscenity for posts critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding father, that included an image of Lee having sex with Margaret Thatcher.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”