Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on June 11, 2013

in Civil Society, Complexity & Emergence, Law, Seen and Unseen

… is from pages 358-359 of the 1997 Liberty Fund edition of the J.F. Huntington translation of Bertrand de Jouvenel’s 1957 volume, Sovereignty: An Inquiry Into the Political Good:

Observation and introspection have convinced me that, even in our times of numerous and detailed laws, men are in fact ruled much less by laws than by compulsive internal images of what they should do – behavioral models; that their conduct is not a matter of personal fancy within the limits set by legal obligations, but gravitates around their behavioural image, which itself alters over time; that, even though public commands become both more frequent and more specific, behaviour and action are governed in the main by suggestions without legal force; that these phenomena are more important than those usually denominated “political” and are in fact basic to so-called “political phenomena.”  Men can in fact be moved to certain actions and behaviours by means lacking all legal authority and power of constraint no less well than by the public authorities….

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