Washington International Law Journal


Peter Cane


As the articles in this Symposium suggest, populism and authoritarianism present ongoing challenges not only to liberal democracy but also to its legal underpinnings. Manipulation, avoidance, evasion, and outright rejection of the constitutional and legal frameworks of liberal democracy are features of populist authoritarianism. The basic argument of this article is that liberal-democratic public law and legal theory no longer satisfy human needs and desires because they were conceived in worlds that no longer exist, when the main pre-occupation was to secure liberty, not equality. The aim of the article is to explain the inherited structure of our public law and theory and the main events and developments that have produced this mismatch between public law and social aspiration.

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