A rule is an observed pattern. Many patterns are inherent in physical reality and we can analyze with systems like arithmetic. Other rules are developed on this basis,onto conventions, such as the driving rule “keep to the right” (in America) or “keep to the left” (Britain), intended to prevent two objects from occupying the same space at the time time with lamentable results. These latter rules enable people to work together for some common good. When agreement on the common good breaks down, the latter sort of rules will be changed, or at least routinely violated.
Those who know the rules have an advantage over those who do not, whether they be expert at the physical rules, for example, an engineer, or the conventional rules, for example attorneys. There is an ambiguity about rules. They state what you cannot do and so are seen as opposed to freedom; on the other hand, if there are no rules, where is my freedom to play chess? So there are aspects of conventional rules that facilitate freedom, often freedom for some at the expense of others. The American Revolution was understood to be be an exercise of “liberty in law,” asserting the rights of Englishmen embracing the institutions and traditions that had developed in adaptation to the new continent. It stressed continuity with the past, and those who got too far beyond that conservative position found themselves isolated, like Thomas Paine, who’d spent just a few years in the colonies before embracing revolution, and then offended everyone with his futuristic “Age of Reason.” He was enthused by the French Revolution which ended up, after a reign of terror which destroyed the original leaders, in the tyranny and attempted world conquest of Napoleon.
Lately in America we have regarded the rules as tools whereby the powerful oppress the weak and we celebrate those who throw off their restraints. We have especially celebrated unappointed judges who found new rights never before envisioned in the “living document” of the Constitution. Now that Mr. Trump has assumed those powers, it is well to review our accustomed attitudes towards rules and those unrestrained by them.