THE ADVOCATE 139
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
Imperfect as our democracy may be, its respect for the individual, for his
personal liberty and for an ideal of justice is what chiefly distinguishes it
from communism today. On the one hand we have an attempt, however
inadequate at times, to strike a balance between the need for planning and
regulation and the most precious possession of man, which is his freedom.
On the other hand we have planning, coordination and the pursuit of power
carried to an extreme that is indifferent to personal liberty and to our concepts
and traditions of justice administered by independent judges who try
to hold the scales even between the defenceless citizen and the mighty state.
To use their own words the communists regard a court as “one of the
organs of government power, a weapon in the hands of the ruling class for
the purpose of safeguarding its interests.”
Our society is committed to, and in practice profoundly affected by, an
ideal of justice. The other society is characterized and dominated by the
concept of power. It seems to me that this is the great issue of our time:
whether the relations between men are to be governed by justice or power,
whether we are only to recognize the demands of power or whether we are
to recognize the responsibility for dealing justly even with those who do not
have the strength to enforce their claims.
At many levels the two competing societies, the communist and our own,
have a great deal in common. They are both in the full flood of rapid and
astonishing technological development. They are both bent upon the pursuit
of still higher and higher standards of material living. They are both
deeply impressed by physical achievement. But in the final analysis that
society will endure which is able to preserve, in the headlong rush of industrial
and scientific development, the supreme values of respect for the individual
and the Rule of Law.
We need in the Western world a new emphasis on law and the pursuit of
justice, a new appreciation on the part of lawyers as well as laymen of the
function of the legal profession. What, after all, is the law? So asked J.M.
Brown and then he proceeded to answer his own question by asking further
At its best, at least as laymen see it, isn’t it an attempt to methodize the
madness of mankind? Isn’t it a high-minded endeavour to create group
sanity out of individual surrenders to folly, and to regulate personal
impulse so that it becomes social order? Doesn’t it seek to superimpose
a pattern of reason on a world of passion and to offer a guarantee of continuity
by relating the precedent of the past with the dilemma of the
The layman himself often has a very inadequate appreciation of the function
of law in society. Law is something you occasionally get into trouble