10 December 2010

What are good laws?

Stalin and Hitler during their time in power both had laws passed that fulfilled the requirements of due process but no one would say that they were just laws. Despite a veneer of democratic due process we should also not assume that all laws passed in 'Western' Democracies automatically qualify as just because the ruling party machines pass them - sometimes with tiny majorities and without even the backing of a majority of the electorate. When unjust laws are passed the question becomes relevant: should citizens respect them and what ways to resist them do they have? Protest is one way and as the laws are not democratic in the proper sense of the term one should not be surprised if protests sometimes become violent. The best way to prevent legislation that is not supported by the majority of the electorate is the introduction of direct democracy. The threat of a referendum would prevent extreme measures to be contemplated as the supporters would know that their proposals would have to pass a lengthy process of public debate and a vote that they may have little chance to carry.

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