Law does not function in an individuated manner where an official, face to face with an individual, orders him to do something, if only because no society could support the number of officials necessary to secure that every member of the society was officially and separately informed of every act which he was required to do. Particularized forms of control are either execeptional or are ancillary acompaniments or reinforcements of general forms of directions which do not name and are not addressed to particular individuals and do not indicate a particular act to be done.
The standard form even of a criminal statute is general in two ways: 1. It indicates a general type of conduct; and 2. It applies to a general class of persons who are expected to see that it applies to them and to comply with it. Legal control is therefore primarily, though not exclusively, control by directions which are in this double sense general. In a modern state it is normally understood that, in the absence of special indications widening or narrowing the class, its general laws extend to all persons within its territorial boundaries.
To speak of laws being addressed to classes of persons, as Austin and jurists do, is misleading in suggesting a parallel to the face to face situation which really does not exist and is not intended by those who use this expression. Ordering people to do things is a form of communication and does entail actually ‘addressing’ them, i. e. attracting their attention or taking steps to attract it, but making laws for people does not. Insert face to face photo
It may indeed be desirable that laws should as soon as may be after they are made, be brought to the attention of those to whom they apply. The legislator’s purpose in making laws would be defeated unless this were generally done, and legal systems often provide, by special rules concerning promulgation, that this shall be done. However, laws are validly made even if those affected are left to find out for themselves what laws have been made and who are affected thereby.
Another fundamental change that must be made in the gunman situation if we are to have a plausible model of situation where there is law is a standing or persistant characteristic. There must therefore be a general belief on the part of those to whom the general orders apply that disobedience is likely to be followed by the execution of the threat not only on the first promulgation of the order, but continuously until the order is withdrawn or cancelled. This makes the original orders alive or standing. However, this in itself is not sufficient.
It must be concurred by the requirement that for the power to carry out threats attached to such standing orders affecting large numbers of persons could exist, and would be thought to exist, if must be known that some considerable number of the population were prepared both themselves to obey voluntarily, i. e. independently of fear of the threat, and to cooperate in the execution of the threats on those who disobeyed. Whatever the basis of this general belief in the likelihood of the execution of threats, there must also be a ‘general habit of obedience’ such that whatever the motive, most of the orders are more often obeyed than disobeyed
by most of those affected. This fact of general obedience lies a crucial distinction between laws and the original simple case of the gunman’s order. Mere temporary ascendancy of one person over another is naturally thought of as the polar opposite of law, with its relatively enduring and settled character. In most legal systems to exercise such short-term coercive power as the gunman has would constitute a criminal offense. If the features of even a penal statute in our constructed model of general orders generally obeyed are to be reproduced, the person who gives the orders must also be looked into closely.
The legal system of a modern state is characterized by a certain kind of supremacy within its territory and independence of other systems. Insert image of a sovereign. Wherever there is a legal system, there must be some persons or body of persons issuing general orders backed by threats which are generally obeyed, and it must be generally believed that these threats are likely to be implemented in the event of disobedience. This person must be internally supreme or externally independent called the sovereign who issues or in his absence, his subordinates in obedience to him, the general orders backed by threats.