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Toward a Post-Apocalyptic Rule of Law

Faculty of Law, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC V2C 0C8, Canada
Laws 2021, 10(3), 65;
Received: 14 April 2021 / Revised: 6 August 2021 / Accepted: 11 August 2021 / Published: 16 August 2021
This paper considers how science fiction, and the subgenres of speculative historicism and futurism in particular, might open legal discourse to hitherto unseen and potentially instructive perspectives. It begins with the proposition that recent historical events of global significance such as the election of Donald Trump in 2016, the outbreak of the Covid19 pandemic of 2020, and the extreme weather events of 2021, were widely predicted and foreseen in the media by way of political reporting as much as popular social and natural science reporting in the years and decades prior. The same tropes were also present in the plotlines of popular literature, television, and film during that period. The central argument of the paper is that before media pundits and policy-makers expressed their surprise at the fragility of the Rule of Law in the “unprecedented” ascent of Trump, the lethal capacity and transmissibility of a “novel” coronavirus, and the “sudden” arrival of climate change in the daily lives of North Americans and Europeans, the spectre of these menaces had already penetrated our collective conscious in a way that ought to have changed outcomes. Neil Postman’s conceptualization of the present epoch as “Technopoly” is a means of explaining how, despite ample warnings, we were not ready for much. Technopoly refers to the historical present as the historical moment in which the technocratic capacity of individuals, states, and markets to respond to existential problems is hindered by information overload, e.g., the threat to the Rule of Law presented by an outgoing American President who refuses to accept the verdict of the electorate; the threat to public health posed by persistent vaccine misinformation and inequitable global vaccine distribution; and, the threat posed to our collective habitat by extreme climate events. The paper concludes that fiction is a powerful potential antidote to the numbing effects of information overload in Technopoly if it is treated seriously as a source of normative authority rather than dismissed as pure diversion. View Full-Text
Keywords: law and literature; legal theory; intellectual history; conceptual philosophy law and literature; legal theory; intellectual history; conceptual philosophy
MDPI and ACS Style

Meyers, J.B. Toward a Post-Apocalyptic Rule of Law. Laws 2021, 10, 65.

AMA Style

Meyers JB. Toward a Post-Apocalyptic Rule of Law. Laws. 2021; 10(3):65.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Meyers, Jeffrey B. 2021. "Toward a Post-Apocalyptic Rule of Law" Laws 10, no. 3: 65.

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