Bernick on Whether Hobocops Dream of the Rule of Law @evanbernick

Evan D. Bernick, Northern Illinois University College of Law, has published Do Hobocops Dream of the Rule of Law?. Here is the abstract.

There is little law and even less law enforcement in Martinaise—a fictional district of a fictional city on a fictional archipelago in which a fictional video game, Disco Elysium, is set. This Essay is about what Disco Elyisum’s narrative and gameplay reveal about the nature of law, the effects of its absence, and the challenges associated with transforming an illegitimate legal system.

This is not the first essay to consider what a video game has to say about jurisprudence. But I break new ground by bringing video-game-inspired insights about law to bear on a particular criminal legal system: that of the United States. Specifically, I compare and contrast the limitations of law in Disco Elysium and the game’s pessimism about the prospects of systemic change within its fictional world, on the one hand; and the limitations of the U.S. criminal legal system and ongoing, radically optimistic efforts to transform—even abolish—the latter, on the other. Like that of Martinaise, the criminal legal system of the U.S. often fails to meaningfully constrain state power and suffers from crippling democratic deficits. But the U.S. is the site of emergent social movements that are committed to participatory and inclusive democracy, and is structured by a constitution that has inspired and empowered people to contest state power throughout U.S. history. In its very pessimism about the prospects of legal transformation in its own world, Disco Elysium encourages optimism about radical change in ours.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.