Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Review of Plunder: When the Rule of Law Is Illegal by Ugo Mattei, Laura Nader

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Law

Elaborate Description

Wealth taken by coercion or manipulating information is plunder. It is supposed used to be illegal, but power nations have legalized the use of plunder. Powerful ideology helps legitimize plunder. During the Crusades, plundering the Arab cities was considered legitimate under their ideology. For the recent U.S., Neoliberalism has been the ideology that legitimizes plunder. The rule of law was meant to limit state intervention, but now it is a legitimizing factor.

Those who plunder can rationalize the legitimacy of their actions and consider themselves law-abiding even as it is contrary to history. This rationalization is enabled by false comparisons of what they have and what others do not. When providing support to does who do not have, the plunderer benefits via policies and the terms of support shortly after delivery, at the expense of the people after a few years. For example, financial institutions underwrite debt are rewarded with fees, but not punished when that debt is packaged in creative forms causing massive hardship on the people.

Legal intervention, or legal activism, help support plunder. Providing a top-down approach to many of the word problems exacerbates those problems, but the interventionists are not held accountable. International law is ambiguous creating selective justifications. Plundering nations which are not culturally aligned. Helping one countries problem while not helping other countries with the same problem or even at the expense of others. Made worse by the hypocritic policies which bind others to policies while the nations that dictates the terms would not accept the same policies such as protecting their own industries while imposing other country’s industries to compete in the open market.

Much of the book is an attack on Neoliberalism and favoring Keynesian. Their description of Neoliberalism is a huge caricature and contradictory. Their antagonist is Hayek with the Austrian school view of government as a corrupting force. The problem is that Hayek’s academic career can be as describing ‘plunder’. As the authors proclaim that Neoliberal policies are against a welfare state, they do not mention that Hayek was supportive of a basic income. Much of the claims they make such as Neoliberalism emphasizing individual choice are taken from a negative connotation while in the authors concluding chapter, they want an active citizenship emphasizing individual choice. While blaming Neoliberal policies, they seem not express that those policies are actually Keynesian. Under their description, Keynesian policies are usually supposed to provide, while Keynesian policies are actually countercyclical. In times of distress, the government should provide assistance while take the assistance away after distress. The authors blame Neoliberalism on the taking away of the assistance. The Keynesian policies the authors want as described in the conclusion can easily be considered plunder. The blame they place seems to be justification for their prescribed policies.

This book is well written but the example could have been better developed. Many issues are touched on briefly making their lesson not readily accessible. Even when going into depth for some examples, they are embedded with other examples. Transitions between the issues explained need work. The benefit of this book is proving a variety of ways with the legal institutions legalize plunder such as creating a market for justice. A market for justice is evident in the U.S. as the guilty can invest money to win the case while the innocent will not recuperate the legal expense.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9781405178952
Pages to read:   219
Publication:     2008
1st Edition:      2008
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          4
Overall           3