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King Ought and the Prince of Is

“Every society has an authority structure. Every society has high and low. No society comes even close to pure equality. There were and are many kinds of authority, many forms of hierarchy, in this country. Millions of Americans are deeply religious, and are faithful to the word of their churches. Learning, skill, and money all command respect. So does political power. There is also the authority of custom, and the authority of traditional morality. These form a kind of inner monarchy, whose commands are passed along by parents, teachers, and preachers. For many people, the old ways, or what they understand as the old ways, are a powerful source of control. Shifts in patterns of authority are relative, not absolute. Authority is hard to measure. Undoubtedly, some traditional institutions have been loosing or losing their grip, over time. There is considerable discussion, for example, of the fate of family authority. Father’s word may not be ‘law’ anymore, or mother’s, but most children do obey their parents, and they care what their parents think and say. They do their homework and they listen to teacher in school, even if they do not show old-fashioned respect or obey like little Prussians. There are millions of single-parent families and unorthodox families, but they are families nonetheless. The family changes in form, but it is still a great power. Most people, too, follow a definite code of behavior, and it is a fairly traditional one.” – Lawrence M. Friedman, American Law: An Introduction

Published inLawrence M. FriedmanPolitics & Law

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