Friday, June 5, 2009

Crime and the rule of law, especially in South Africa

What's the relation between the rule of law and crime? South Africa's crime rates -- for murder, rape, car hijacking, and similar frightening offenses -- are very high. Does that fact mean that the rule of law is in jeopardy? There must be a connection between having a government constrained by the rule of law and having a society that obeys the law, but it's not a simple connection. We know this because there are societies with very little violent crime, at least crime committed by ordinary citizens, that aren't rule of law societies at all. A neighborhood whose security is guaranteed by organized crime is an example. So was Nazi Germany (assuming private crime was low there). But is it possible for legal values to flourish without legal order?

South Africa, and the rule of law there and elsewhere, are two topics I hope to return to in this blog. More to come.

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