Channeling de Soto in Iraq
By Arnold Kling
all societies have rules otherwise they would descend into anarchy. And the basis of all consensual laws (as opposed to imposed) is the customary or informal rule-sets that have been evolving with the society. These rule-sets must be rationalized and formalized (and yes, modernized) as a part of creating a true nation, but laws cannot be imposed if one expects them to be observed.
…Once the national law establishes common rules for peoples’ property and savings – mainly their homes and businesses – Iraqi citizens can then get about working, saving and doing business with (not killing) one another. There will always be fanatics, but most people with jobs and a shot at a future don’t blow themselves up.
It is easy to agree with Schaefer that our approach in Iraq to this point is not working. It is easy to agree that a system of law that emerges from common law is more likely to take hold than a top-down Constitution. However, I am doubtful that the United States can, from the outside, create a common-law environment in Iraq.