At the advent of Human Civilization, “Men” were Sovereign in their own, in the sense that, they were free and were not subject to or bound by any law. Then, men were Ruled by their own conscience and not by codified laws and were even free to the extent of inflicting violence at their will & strength, i.e. Might is right was the scene. Men were guided by own conscience and greed. An action not emanating from reason and the freedom to do as one pleases.
Great Philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1671) says that prior to concept of Statehood, the man lived in chaotic conditions of constant fear. The life in the state of nature was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. For getting self protection and avoiding misery and pain, man voluntarily entered into a contract and surrendered their part of freedom to some might authority, who could protect their lives and property, which emerged later on as the ruler and which ultimately culminated into the shape of the State.
With the great passage of time and centuries together, Codified laws evolved and were introduced in Human Life. Men came together; they voluntarily surrendered their individual sovereignty to State sovereignty, and opted to subject themselves to laws of the land. However, they were promised, in return, the Rule of codified laws. The rule of codified laws purported to promise the safety of their life & their property and also sought to guarantee the general dignity inherent in human person along with guarantee that he will not be discriminated. This is how the ancient contract between Men & Law came into being.
Main thrust of the legal brains emphasizing on codification of laws, has been firstly, as a means of attainment of human perfection and secondly to secure liberty to individuals in the society. They all considered liberty as the first pre-requisite for the development of Human Personality. In their view, a State is like a family to which the interests of its members are always dear at heart, like a family which would not be happy if its members are in difficulty, want or trouble, like a family which would not interfere unnecessarily with the free choice of its members. And therefore, in the backdrop of ancient social contract, every Society & every Individual Citizen has certain basic assumptions to take it for granted from the Laws of the land that:
a. His Life & Property will be protected and his liberty will be secured
b. He can appropriate for his own use what he has created by his own labour and what he has acquired under the existing economic order
c. That others will act with due care and will not cast upon him an unreasonable risk of injury
d. That others will not commit any intentional aggression upon him
e. That people with whom he deals will carry out their undertakings and will act in good faith
f. That he will have security as a job holder
g. That the relevant laws will bear the risk of unforeseen misfortune
h. That the law will bear the burden of supporting him when he becomes aged
i. That complaints made to “Hon’ble Court of Law” will be attended with due care and attention and is duly replied.
In a democracy, forms and degree of accountability may vary but the basic idea remains the same that the holders of Public Office must be publicly able to justify their exercise of power not only as legally valid but also socially wise just and reasonable, chiefly designed to add something more to the quality of life of its Citizens.
In many respects, we now live in a society that is only formally democratic, as the great mass of citizens has minimal say on the major public issues of the day, and such issues are scarcely debated at all in any meaningful sense in the electoral arena and where critical decisions are taken in closed chambers of Ministers & Bureaucrats.
Democracy or democratic dissent is to oppose or challenge the illegal acts & omissions of and having a critical perspective about what our leaders is doing. Either we exercise the democratic dissent and criticism of these acts & omissions or we all lie down and let the leader do what they want; and while we follow uncritically and obey whatever they command, that's just what the Germans did with Hitler and look where he got them.
Just because we cannot see clearly the end of the road, that is no reason for not setting out on the essential journey of law towards justice. The law is not dead, is only slept.