Law, from the series Bookscapes, by Max Steven Grossman, 2016. Digital photograph, 48 x 100 inches. © Max Steven Grossman, courtesy of the artist.

Rule of Law

Volume XI, Number 2 | spring 2018


Super Pacts

International treaties, from antiquity to the digital age.



In a tenth-century epistle by Ismaili collective the Brethren of Purity, animals put the actions of mankind on trial. “Your judges and jurists are the basest, wickedest pharaohs and tyrants!” declares a parrot prosecutor. A human is no sooner appointed judge than he is seen “trotting along on a prancing mule or an ass out of Egypt with a saddle and a parasol trailing to the ground,” all this being “the gift of a despot” or paid for by “what he could wring from the due of orphans and divert from the charitable trusts.”

In a court of fowls, the cockroach never wins its case.

—Rwandan proverb



Your Time Is Going to Come


Trump humiliates underlings with firings; the media reports metaphoric “stays of execution.”


c. 40:

Caligula condemns underlings to fight wild beasts after they fail to acknowledge his genius.


The World in Time

Richard White

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Richard White, author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896. More