“Governments do not rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world”.
If these were my words I would be severely criticised as a law professor by colleagues and (probably) students alike. If these were my words I would be accused of contradicting the foundations of our widely held assumptions on political and legal theory. If these were my words I would be forgetting that the sovereign state is the basis of the whole legal system. I would be endangering the democratic legitimacy of power. I would be ignoring the sacred line between private and public that we lawyers never cross. There is the public law, and there is the private law, and no matter what Kelsen said so many years ago: they are distinct and must remain distinct. If these were my words I would be called a dangerous critical radical lawyer.
But these are not my words. These are the words of Alessio Rastani, an independent broker working at the City of London, that provoked a collective jaw-dropping at the BBC studio where he was interviewed life when he confessed that every night he dreams about a new recession because recessions are perfect opportunities to make money if you know how to play your cards. Recovery plans, the survival of the Euro, or any other problems of political economy are completely irrelevant, he claimed. Because the people whose decisions really matter do not care about these things. And this people are not in governments. In fact, as some of us were already suspecting, goverments do not rule the world. Goldman Sachs does.
These are the words of someone who seems to be an outspoken and apparently very honest broker. But I am a law professor. So tomorrow I will teach my first year law students that the laws that matter are the laws of the sovereign nation state that obtain their legitimacy through democratic process. The sovereign people, as democratic theory says. And if one my students raises her hand inquiring over Rastani’s words, I can always respond that the man is not a lawyer. What does he know?