chapter  9
18 Pages

Principled principals in the founding moments of the rule-of-law

ByMARGARET LEVI, BRAD EPPERLY

Institutionally, the rule-of-law consists of the laws that protect personal security and private property and the means for monitoring and enforcing obedience with those laws. When coercion is the only or even primary means to achieve compliance, laws may exist but not the rule-of-law. The rule-of-law requires legitimacy, at least if legitimacy means reasoned deference to authority (Tyler 2006; Levi et al. forthcoming). When legitimacy exists, rule-of-law can create a virtuous circle of increasing levels of voluntary compliance (Levi and Sacks 2007). The expectation that others, including government officials and elites, should obey the law, followed by the observation that they are indeed obeying the law, increases the willingness of the populous to comply. Wide-scale compliance with the law then enhances the ability of government to provide law and other public goods that rule-of-law facilitates. Rule-of-law institutions are only effective to the extent that the general public believes in the value of being lawabiding and that the powerful of the society believe they, too, are subject to the law. If officeholders and the privileged act as if they are above the law, the rule-of-law becomes fragile or non-existent. And the virtuous circle is ruptured. There is good reason to believe that rule-of-law enhances the processes of

both democratization and economic development, as other research and other chapter in this volume attest. Social scientists and policymakers are fairly confident that the rule-of-law is essential to effective state building but are considerably less certain about how to bring it about (Economist 2008). We suggest there are three factors that need to come together for the establishment of rule-of-law and its maintenance. The first is the right kind of leadership. Leaders able to establish rule-of-law

institutions are those capable of obtaining the cooperation of elites and administrators who might prefer to free ride through defection, opposition, or theft. They must also be able to convince state agents and members of the polity that they are in a situation where corruption is unacceptable and laws likely to be upheld. Key to such leadership is the development of an organizational culture based upon leaders’ credible commitments to principles that they will uphold even in unforeseen contingencies and even when it is against their personal interest to do so.