End and beginning

            Luis Rubio

To my dear Gaby and Rafael in this terrible hour

Every year the same thing happens: one year ends and another begins, like the normal cycle of life. On this occasion, Mexico is starting a new ear, under the promise of a radical change regarding what Mexicans have lived through in recent decades. Like all changes, there is a sense of expectation and worry, anxiety and delirium. However, none of this deprives us of the celebration of the year that is ending and the hopes for the one about to begin.

Each quarter Lapham’s Quarterly devotes its space to exploring the history, meaning and perspectives of topics such as rivalries, time, fear or discovery. An infinite variety, all rich in content and learning opportunities. The first issue of this year was about the rule of law, a subject that I am passionate about and that I have devoted a lot of time to studying, as well as looking for ways to advance it in the country. Here are some of the most interesting quotes I found in this volume.

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous its laws,Tacitus c110

Law is a flag, and gold is the wind that makes it wave. Russian proverb

If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us. Francis Bacon, 1615

When you break the great laws, you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws. G.K. Chesterton, 1905

The development of our laws has gone on for nearly a thousand years, like the development of a plant, each generation taking the inevitable next step, mind, like matter, simply obeying a law of spontaneous growth. Oliver Wendell Holmes

The law is established from above, but becomes custom below. Su Zhe, c 1100

Petty laws breed great crimes, Ouida, 1880

Under the Draconian code almost any kind of offense was liable to the death penalty, so that even those convicted of idleness were executed… Plutarch c, 46

The benefits of the Code Napoleón, public trial, and the introduction of juries, will be the leading features of your government. And to tell you the truth, I count more on their effects, for the extension and consolidation of your rule, than on the most resounding victories, Napoleon Bonaparte, having established the Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807

David Frost: Would you say that there are certain situations where the president can decide it’s in the best interests of the nation, and do something illegal? Nixon: Well, when the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.

There’s a delightful image in Plato that explains why a sensible person is right to steer clear of politics. He sees everyone else rushing into the street and getting soaked in the pouring rain. He can’t persuade them to go indoors and keep dry. He knows if he went out, too, he’d merely get equally wet. So he just stays indoors himself and, as he can’t do anything about other people’s stupidity, comforts himself with the thought: “Well, I’m all right anyway”. Thomas More, Utopia

One law and one justice protects the man of property, the man of wealth, the foreign exploiter. Another law, another justice, silences the poor, the hungry, our people. Ngugiwa Thiong’o, 1976

Anarchism urges man to think, to investigate, to analyze every proposition… Anarchism: The philosophy of anew social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful as well as unnecessary. Emma Goldman, 1906

Laws, like houses, lean on one another, Edmund Burke, 1765

It is perhaps impossible to review the laws of any country without discovering many defects and many superfluities. Laws often continue when their reasons have ceased. Laws made for the first state of society continue unabolished, when the general form of life is changed. Parts of the judicial procedure, which were at first only accidental, become in time essential; and formalities are accumulated on each other, till the art of litigation requires more study than the discovery of right. Dr. Samuel Johnson

The law of the land was vital to civilize society; but it could be a cumbersome and unfair thing. Richard Cohen

The law is like rain –it can’t fall the same everywhere. The person if falls on grumbles, bit it´s a simple matter- the laws like a knife, it doesn’t hurt the one who handles it. Jose Hernandez. The Return of Martin Fierro

There is something of ill omen among us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgement of courts: and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice… There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law… Abraham Lincoln

End and beginning: what’s gone is gone; now comes the time of opportunities, if we know how to grab them.

Happy New Year!