had to be extended to all sorts and degrees of men p

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Unformatted text preview: s of equity and universality which ... had to be extended to all sorts and degrees of men.” (p. 264) “It is true that the law did mediate existent class relations to the advantage of the rulers” but it did so “through legal forms, which imposed, again and again, inhibitions upon the actions of the rulers.” James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 12 / 29 Constrained Oligarchs The Oligarchy could not risk abandoning this situation because “in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the law had been less an instrument of class power than a central area of con‡ict. Inherited by the eighteenth century gentry, this changed law was .. central to their whole purchase upon power and upon the means of life. Take away law, and the royal prerogative .. might ‡ood back upon their properties and lives.” Thompson also points out an interesting connection to the transition towards democracy an issue to which we shall return “When the struggles of 1790-1832 signalled that this equilibrium had changed, the rulers of England were faced with alarming alternatives. They could either dispense with the rule of law, dismantle their elaborate constitutional structures, countermand their own rhetoric and rule by force; or they could submit to their own rules and surrender their hegemony.” (p. 269) James A. Robinson (Harvard) The Emergence of Modern Economic Growth: A Comparative and Historical Analysis: L September 30, 2009 13 / 29 What sort of Con‡icts happened in Britain? There is a lot of controversy in the historical literature about the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution. An earlier tradition emanating from Marx himself (particularly Maurice Dobb and Eric Hobsbawm) saw these as ‘ bourgeois revolutions’where newly rising social classes overthrew existing regimes which were inimical to their interests. At some level North and Weingast’ thesis is a bit like s “Marxism+credible commitment.” But modern historians have poured cold water on this idea emphasizing a multitude of con‡icts, particularly religious and regional, arguing that economic interests is not a...
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