Bruno Leoni vs. Paul Romer
By Arnold Kling
In 1961, Leoni wrote,
In reality, the law is something which is not pre-fabricated in some specially-designated place, by some specially-designated producer and with some pre-established technique. In much the same way, no followers of the artificial languages such as Esperanto and Volapuk have yet succeeded in finding a substitute for the language that we speak every day, which also is not pre-fabricated. The law is in the last analysis something which everyone makes every day with his behavior, his spontaneous acceptance and observance of the rules that everyone helps to establish, and finally, even if it seems paradoxical, with the disagreements themselves which eventually arise among the various individuals on the observance of these rules.
Paul Romer, in presenting his idea for charter cities, makes it sound as though we can take rules “manufactured” in, say, Canada, and export them anywhere in the world. Leoni would say that instead most law is embedded in social customs In fact, my daughter who just spent the summer in Tanzania, says that the custom of seeing law as something that ought to be obeyed is not nearly as natural there as it is here.