Does your government make the grade?

The following is a special message from George Mason University Professor Christopher Koopman, the host of Liberty 101’s final section, Law Liberty. Check it out! And look out for an upcoming announcement about an SFL Live interview with Prof. Koopman! 

Spontaneous order. Rule of law. Limited government.

4020584983_650058eea4_oThese are the principles covered in the final section of Liberty 101, and they are crucial to the preservation of liberty. They’re also central components of the law as an institution. The “rule of law,” for instance, is now widely accepted as a basic tenet of legal theory. It’s also the idea at the center of many classical liberal conceptions of government.

Unlike the classrooms you’re leaving behind, in which your professor has complete power to change the rules on a whim, in legal systems based on the rule of a law, widely accepted rules are used to govern rather than exceptions and privileged groups. To keep with the analogy, this would mean that every class you take has the same syllabus, which is widely known and applied consistently — and even applied to professors as well!

This idea, that rulers (or politicians) should be bound by the same laws as everyone else, was radical and strange when it was first introduced, which is sometimes hard to truly appreciate now that we’re so used to the concept. Soon, however, it took the world by storm, leading to centuries of prosperity wherever it was applied.

Widespread acceptance doesn’t always translate into perfect application though. You’re probably aware of the many ways in which police in the United States have come under scrutiny for behavior that disregards the law and violates rights. This is just one poignant example of how state actors don’t always make the grade when it comes to good governance. And when it comes to governance, we the people are in the professor’s shoes — it’s up to us to point out where our governments fail and articulate why it’s a problem. This is one reason why it’s so crucial to study and understand the ideas of a free society.

In addition to the rule of law, this section of Liberty 101 covers spontaneous order — a paradigm-shifting idea from libertarian forefather F.A. Hayek — as well as limited government. But you’ll find that each idea covered in this section is part and parcel of a single cohesive philosophy of law — one that puts human freedom and prosperity at its center. Check it out:

If you start the course now, you’ll have tons of time to check out each of the videos and get the full picture before your next semester starts up again. And — if you’re not too burned out from finals — to test your knowledge with the quick quizzes we’ve included below each video. At least these ones won’t affect your GPA!

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