We invite you to the 4th RGSL Anniversary lecture on 12 October at 15.30 with Professor Martin Krygier from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia who will speak on “Well-tempered power: A cultural achievement of universal significance.” The lecture will take place at RGSL Campus on Strēlnieku 4 k-2, W42 auditorium.
Please register for the event here:
WELL-TEMPERED POWER: ‘A CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENT OF UNIVERSAL SIGNIFICANCE’
According to Laurent Pech, the rule of law was described as a “‘buzzword’ by [Hungary’s] justice minister; a fiction by a Fidesz MP; and a ‘magic word’ by the Fidesz-KDNP Delegation to the European Parliament. Not to be undone, a judge from Hungary’s (captured) constitutional court, has presented the rule of law ‘as a normative yardstick’ which is little more than an empty nineteenth century ideal and a political joker [sic] for all purposes” (L. Pech, ‘The Rule of Law as a Well-Established and Well-Defined Principle of EU Law,’ (2022) 14, 2-3 Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 128)
In contrast, the English historian, E.P. Thompson, notoriously and controversially called the rule of law ‘a cultural achievement of universal significance.’ I agree with Thompson. Each word in that phrase, I seek to demonstrate, deserves emphasis and respect.
However, it makes a huge difference what one takes the rule of law to be about. What is universal is the notion and realisation of a state of affairs in which power is reliably tempered so as not to be available for arbitrary abuse. It is that which is a cultural achievement of universal significance. It is a mistake to identify it, as so many do, with any allegedly canonical arrangement of forms and institutions and rules that are enlisted or assumed to embody it. Many people make that mistake.
Martin Krygier is Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory, Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW Sydney; and Senior Research Fellow, Rule of Law Program, Central European University Democracy Institute, Budapest. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. He writes extensively for academic journals and journals of public debate, on the rule of law, law and social theory, and law and politics in central and eastern Europe. His present research is focused on anti-constitutionalist populism and the rule of law. In 2002 he was awarded the Cavalier’s Cross, Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, in 2016 the Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory, and in 2020 Membership of the Order of Australia. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He has enjoyed invited fellowships and visiting professorships at numerous universities and institutes in Australia, Austria, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Books: include Anti-Constitutional Populism, Cambridge, 2022 (co-ed.); Philip Selznick. Ideals in the World, Stanford, 2012; Civil Passions, Black Inc., 2005; Spreading Democracy and the Rule of Law?, Springer, 2006 (co-ed); Rethinking the Rule of Law after Communism, Central European University Press, 2005 (co-ed); Legality and Community: On the Intellectual Legacy of Philip Selznick, Rowman and Littlefield, 2002 (co-ed); The Rule of Law after Communism, Dartmouth, 1999 (co-ed); Between Fear and Hope. Hybrid thoughts on Public Values, Boyer Radio Lectures, ABC Books, 1997.
Recent articles: include ‘Władza utemperowana: „Kulturowe osiągnięcie o uniwersalnym znaczeniu”’ in Jacek Żakowski ed., Almanach 2023-2024, Warsaw, Fundacja Collegium Civitas, 2023, 153-85; ‘The Ideal of the Rule of Law and Private Power,’ in Mark Tushnet and Dimitry Kochenov, eds., Research Handbook on the Politics of Constitutional Law, Edward Elgar, 2023, 14-29; ‘Domestic Abuse: Populists and the Rule of Law,’ IWMpost Winter 2022, no. 130, 1; ‘Too Much Information,’ in Helge Dedek and William Twining, eds., Cosmopolitan Jurisprudence. Essays in Memory of H. Patrick Glenn, Cambridge, 2022, 117-42; ‘Illiberalism and the Rule of Law,’ in András Sajó, Renata Uitz and Stephen Holmes, eds., Routledge Handbook on Illiberalism, Routledge, 2021, 533-53; ‘The Spirit of Constitutionalism,’ J. Urbanik and A. Bodnar, eds., Περιμένοντας τους Bαρβάρους. Law in the days of Constitutional Crisis. Studies offered to Mirosław Wyrzykowski, C.H. Beck, 2021, 343-58; ‘Democracy and the Rule of Law,’ in Jens Meierhenrich and Martin Loughlin, eds., Cambridge Companion to the Rule of Law, Cambridge, 2021, 406-24; ‘An Ecumenical Sensibility,’ in Paul van Seters, ed., The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick, Anthem Press, 2021, 189-212; ‘Polish Lessons. Backsliding, Sabotage and the Rule of Law,’ in Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias, Uladzislau Belavusau, eds., Constitutionalism under Stress. Essays in Honour of Wojciech Sadurski, Oxford, 2020, 79-94; ‘Powrót na złą droge, sabotaż i rządy prawa: nauka na błędach,’ Almanach 2019-2020, Fundacja Collegium Civitas, Warsaw, 2020, 153-69; ‘The Potential for Resilience of Institutions to Sustain the Rule of Law’ (2020) 12 Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 205-13; What’s the Point of the Rule of Law?’ (2019) 67, 3 Buffalo Law Review 743-91; ‘The Challenge of Institutionalisation: Post-Communist “Transitions”, Populism, and the Rule of Law,’ (2019) 15 European Constitutional Law Review, 544–573; ‘The Discreet Charm of Civility,’ (2019) Thesis Eleven, 1-17.
As RGSL celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, the Anniversary lecture series cover areas of law and business, international law, European Law, European Union, rule of law and constitutionalism, says RGSL Rector Dr. Adam Czarnota.
The speakers of the previous RGSL Anniversary lectures were the President of Latvia Egils Levits, Professor Stefan Auer from the University of Hong Kong and Professorial Fellow Adam Liberman from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
RGSL was established in 1998 by agreement between the Latvian and Swedish Governments and the Soros Foundation Latvia. RGSL is a specialised law school offering Masters programmes in international public and private law subjects including European law, human rights, international commercial law, EU policy, finance and technology. It also offers two interdisciplinary Bachelor programmes in which law is studied in combination with business and diplomacy. RGSL faculty and students come from over 30 countries, and our graduates work in governmental agencies, legal profession, businesses and international organisations all over the world.
“We worked hard to transform the legal education in Latvia, we have worked very hard to actually transform the legal profession in our region and we have also put Riga on an international map of legal education,” says Jānis Ikstens, Chairman of the RGSL Board. “I believe there are three core values that have helped us to achieve what we are proud of today – namely, ambition, agility and innovation. And I very much hope that, as we grow older, we will not lose these critically important values in the temporary world and we will further strive for excellence for the next 250 years.”