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Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal by…

Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal

by Ugo Mattei

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This book has one big, very important and controversial idea: that the "rule of law", which is much ballyhooed and praised as the pinnacle of civilization, in many cases is just the polite means by which those with power and money extract resources from those without similar status. The Rule of Law has become what John Locke and Adam Smith overtly intended, in other words, a system by which those with wealth are able to protect and increase it at the expense of the poor.

Unfortunately, explaining and illustrating this argument is a painful read. This is a surprise, because Nader's other works are uniformly well-conceived and well-written. In style, the majority of the text reads as though it had first been written in a different language, and then translated into English by a mediocre linguist. Constructions are awkward, phrasings unnatural, and overall it is just a poorly executed text.

As for the argument, the text resorts too often to polemic when reasoned argument would better serve the authors' purpose. For example, although the Enron debacle is highlighted as a prime example of the system being structured to allow, if not encourage plunder, they offer no details -- who, exactly, stole what from whom, and how is this "plunder" in the sense they argue (and not merely criminal business activity)? Such data surely exist, so their absence is noticed. And so on throughout the book. They continually gesture to presumably paradigmatic episodes, but after having suggested there is a story to tell, they typically decline to actually tell it -- but you know darn well they're angry about it!

Read the very early chapters to glean the main thrust of the argument. The remainder adds little, and can be safely overlooked (although Chapter 6 is an uncharacteristically pleasant, and thus interesting contribution). ( )
  dono421846 | Aug 24, 2012 |
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