Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Decline of the Respect for Law in the Modern Age

Decline of the Respect for Law in the Modern Age

Ivan Hoffman has an interesting philosophical article entitled Respect For The Law - in which he posits that respect for the law has declined in recent decades, leading to many of the problems which the legal discipline thus faces today.

As an intellectual property attorney and teacher of law at UCLA Extension, Hoffman also goes into the role of the law and the fair - or unfair - use of copyrights and trademarks as issues which are partial manifestations of this posited deteriorating respect for the law.

The core of Hoffman's article is the idea that we as citizens should be "affirmatively modeling" respect for the law and not be merely giving lip service to its dictates. 

Mere compliance with the law or refraining from doing what we think we can get away with, are simply not enough to uphold the kind of respect for law which civilization requires.

Although the Law Pundit agrees with much of what Hoffman writes, life's experience indicates - at least,  in this quarter - that clear normative regulations and subsequent effective law enforcement are very much required everywhere, regardless of the era involved. Music piracy, for example, is like speeding or false parking. There will always be grey legal areas and most people will push that line as much as they can while a minority will ignore the line altogether - without clearly stated norms and without effective enforcement. Hence we thus have found that we must have speed limits, parking regulations, and enforcement of these. When these are lacking, chaos rules. Copyright and trademark infringement are no different.

When the day comes when we all do not need to lock our cars and apartments and homes and buildings, things will be different. But look around you - EVERYTHING IS SECURED. So, until that day comes, all the world remains under lock and key, and must so remain, given the nature of human nature.

Marx and Engels advocated a "Marxist" system based on the idea that human nature could be improved - their system did not work, indeed, it was a disaster. Capitalism accepts human nature as it is - and adjusts its system accordingly. And Capitalism works splendidly.

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