How should we respond to the fact that law and democracy are under real threat in our world? In Keep Law Alive, James Boyd White warns us that if we are to keep law alive we must understand what law is, and how it works at its best—while at the same time recognizing that it may indeed be lost.
The following quote, taken from the Foreword, describes the author's approach:
"My idea in this book is to express my sense of what law is like at its best—how it works, what it offers us, and what it requires of us, both as lawyers and as citizens, and what it would mean to lose it. I want to do this at this time in history because, as I say immediately below, I think the law as we know it is subject to serious threats today, threats I elaborate both explicitly and implicitly in the body of the book.
The book begins with an immersion in legal thinking of a kind I believe to be of a high and traditional order, and ends with the recognition of another sort of thinking and being which I think may help us live with and respond to the threats I mention.
In it I speak from a world—the world of law and democratic government in which I grew up and was educated and led most of my working life—that is now in peril in our country. This world was built upon the imperfect but real assumption that our polity is a constitutional democracy, based upon a fundamentally reliable electoral process, and that, with all its defects—some of them serious indeed—law is an institution that should be treated with utmost respect as an essential and valuable part of our public world."