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Cleveland State Law Review


justice, legal education, law schools


The scholar's dilemma, particularly those scholars in disciplines such as law that are irreversibly linked to the operation of power and implicit willingness to do violence if necessary, is that societies require shared consensus far more than truth. Negative truths about the scientifically unsupportable premises of our fundamental beliefs might interfere with the quality of the operating consensus, at least for those satisfied with their lot. The stark truth about opportunity, fairness, racial and gender bias, about who receives economic benefits and so forth would not be knowledge that “sets us free” but “sets us at each other's throats”. If this sounds familiar, welcome to the final decade of the Twentieth Century, a period in which we have facilely “deconstructed” our fundamental principles, sought to reveal the underlying truths of an unfair social system, and created a political context filled with hollow slogans based on intense propaganda campaigns both defensive and offensive in character, designed to mask the emptiness into which our “intellectuals” have cast us and designed to either retain or obtain power for their advocates. For many, even if gaining power is not a realistic probability, there is at least some satisfaction in wounding the source of one's perceived injustice or, like Samson, suicidally bringing the temple down on their heads.

This is the dilemma from which we must struggle to extract ourselves and our political community. Understanding justice and developing the richer dimensions of law in an effort to incorporate its principles are essential aspects of our justice mission which is of course at least as important as an on-going and fluid process as any assumptions concerning singular truths, goals, or visions of right. As I suggest at the conclusion of this article, the answer to the dilemma must begin from within us, not with institutional and intellectual externalities. Our problems go to the core of our humanity, our very conception of our selves, and will not be resolved short of that source of energy, values, creativity and destructiveness.


Excerpts reprinted in Clinical Anthology: Readings for Live-Client Clinics, Hurder, Bloch, Brooks, Kay, eds., 1997.