Authority in the Modern State
A Solution to the Problem of Authority. Originally published: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1919. x, -398 pp. This work was intended to be a sequel to Studies in the Problem of Sovereignty (1917). Here Laski argues that sovereignty is best understood as a type of authority, and he supports his case with examples drawn principally from modern French history. After tracing the origins of his subject, Laski considers the significance of Bonald, Lamennais, Royer-Collard and the Syndicalist movement. Laski was a professor at Harvard at the time of publication. He was Justice Holmes' protege and notes in his preface that some of the ideas in this book were drawn from their discussions.
"This book is especially valuable because it warns us not to exaggerate the importance of law... If the individuals in the legislatures and the departments of justice and on the bench do not stand for the best things men stand for, men begin to wonder whether, after all, that government ought to endure. (...) So, in order to make people loyal to the state, you must make the state the kind of institution that they want to be loyal to. Such is the lesson of this very able book." --Zechariah Chafee, Jr. Harvard Law Review 32:979-983.
Harold J. Laski [1893-1950] was a teacher, political scientist, and leader of the Labour Party. His ideas influenced the work of Felix Frankfurter and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who were two of his closest friends. His work also influenced Jawaharlal Nehru who would go on to become India's first prime minister."
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Page 39 - But the most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated...
Page 39 - ... interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government...
Page 26 - As a series of appeals must be finite, there necessarily exists in every government a power from which the constitution has provided no appeal ; and which power, for that reason, may be termed absolute, omnipotent, uncontrollable, arbitrary, despotic ; and is alike so in all countries.