3.b.4 – Is legality a value?

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March 20, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti


Is legality a value?

For legality we mean the compliance with the laws and the laws are an expression of authority, but are also norms having the function to regulate civil life, an institutional form of the rules of coexistence. When the laws perform this function, they represent a support rather than a limit to freedom: they allow coexistence and, with it, ensure a freedom of action otherwise impossible; they require mutual respect starting with respect for  everybody’s freedom.
Unfortunately, the laws do not always have this function; history documents us on how many of them are born to support an authoritarian regime and protect the interests of a ruling class, this is why to law are often associated the concepts of harassment, oppression and injustice. There is no doubt that laws can have a negative role, but at the same time one cannot deny that they also perform positive functions: is then possible to distinguish good laws from bad ones? Often we can, and it seems quite easy, because we have just to see if they are consistent with our values: life, family, community, welfare and, of course, freedom and mutual respect. In fact, this ability of judgment assumes that we have clearly understood the concepts of those values and that we have a degree of culture and a chance to get information in order to well interpret the real purpose that the law has, sometimes disguised by propaganda just behind the ostentatious protection of the above mentioned values; it is therefore a task at times decidedly difficult, although necessary, to defend our freedom.
Everyone knows that the goodness of the laws depends on who makes them, and in general the value of law depends on the type of political regime, the current form of government; the values that reflect the laws are those of the political class in power. It is good then to know in whose hands political power actually is, to understand on what values the government from which we depend is actually based and analyze the possible alternatives.
Legality is therefore a present value, but only insofar as it actually supports the community and protects our freedoms, to the extent that it prevents riots, bullying and injustice which, it is good to notice, in the long term lead to authoritarian regimes encouraging the emergence of hard and tough laws to restore order.
In other words, to respect the authorities of our society is right and it is a duty, as long as these authorities deserve it and this is precisely how they respect our values, starting by our freedom.


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