Extraordinary time

In China’s universities in the 1980s, there were only law schools but no law schools. At that time, the teaching materials for students to learn were unified, and the relevant legal theories were relatively simple. For example, when talking about the functions and functions of law, it was inevitable to use the image of ” knife to handle the child” to illustrate its dictatorship and repression against the enemy. Academic circles hold seminars to seriously discuss such ” big issues” as ” curing people” or ” ruling by law”. At that time, the law school could be said to be a scene of desolation and waste. The laws that have already been enacted are obviously planned economy and so on. For example, according to the provisions of the Criminal Law, if someone buys materials from a certain place at a low price and resells them at a higher price to another place, he will commit the crime of ” speculation”. If this crime is told to today’s students, they will not be able to keep their mouth shut for half a day. Some new laws are being drawn up. Teachers and students see the new laws almost at the same time. Naturally, most of the classes are now learning and selling, which does not necessarily mean they have more and better opinions than students. At that time, there were few reference books. Montesquieu’s ” On the Spirit of Law” was not easy to borrow from the library.

However, even in the poor 1980s, it is very reminiscent. At that time, students were ” idealistic” in their reading, and they sincerely wanted to ” read for the rise of China”. I was hungry when I was reading because everyone ” wanted to take back the time lost by the Gang of Four”. Although students also consider their future after graduation, their academic performance at school is still an important determinant, because ” hard work can change fate” is the norm. It can be said that the college students at that time lived a ” real” college life: the classroom absorbed whatever kind of knowledge the teacher said, because it was ” new knowledge”, and the students who skipped classes were not absent, but not as many as now. At that time, everyone had no mobile phone to swipe, and in class, they had to glance at the novel under the textbook at most. There are academic reports in the school, and the large auditorium is usually full. No matter how obscure the topic, it can attract countless audiences. If one or two foreigners can give lectures, it is necessary to occupy seats. The library is always full of students who study by themselves. Articles published in a few periodicals and magazines will be read by almost all students. Professors do not have various titles such as the Yangtze River, Mount Tai, and Jie Qing. Schools do not care whether they publish articles in heavyweight publications. Young scholars can also sit on the bench without rushing to become famous and start a family. The word academic misconduct. I haven’t even heard of it!

In the 1980s, the material side was saying goodbye to the shortage economy, but it was not rich. The cycle of knowledge renewal was still very long, and many research forbidden zones had not been opened. However, people at that time were clear and clear in heart, full of yearning and expectation for the future, and ” tomorrow will be better” was almost everyone’s unchangeable creed. People use various words to define the beauty of life, but the word ” hope” is the most powerful one. Today, many people miss the 1980s, not because there was no social injustice or dark and decadent things at that time, but because people could see signs and hopes of ” good”.

As time goes by, those who sang the song ” the new generation in the 1980s” have now entered middle age or even old age. nostalgia for the 1980s seems to coincide with the nostalgic theme of this generation. Moreover, nostalgia seems to be common to human beings. Not only do Chinese people miss the lost 1980s, but also some people in the United States miss that ” extraordinary time”. This is a very interesting thing. The book ” Extraordinary Times – Returning to the Peak Age of American Law” is a dialogue between James Hackney, a professor at Northeastern University Law School, and ten of the most famous jurists in contemporary America, who are the main representatives of relevant academic movements in the 1980s. As Professor Hackney said in his introduction, ” that decade was an extraordinary period of American legal theory. Looking up, we can see the movement that has already taken shape and the academic battle that is underway. At that time, there was not only a paradigm shift, but also the proliferation and fission of paradigms – these were all real battles. ” It was during this period that ” for the first time in law, there was a large-scale voice of non-white men.” For the first time in this period, the issue of identity differences among legal professionals and the influence of law on marginalized ethnic groups began to emerge in a serious manner. In the legal field and within the legal profession, intellectual, social and cultural vitality can be seen everywhere to an unimaginable extent today. ”

It is hard to imagine the number of ideological movements and schools that arose or developed in the American legal circle in the 1980s, mainly including legal economics, feminist legal theory, law and society, modern liberal constitutional theory, conservative / laissez-faire constitutional theory, critical legal research, critical ethnic theory, law and literature, law and philosophy, critical legal history and postmodern theory, etc. These theories have been widely spread in mainland China today. For example, Richard Posner, a representative of law and economics, estimates that every law school student will have one or two books on his desk. Law and economics has also become an elective course for some law school graduate students. Bruce Ackerman’s ” We the People” series is widely read, and Catherine McKinnon has also gained a group of Chinese fans of feminism.

When the author put together two kinds of ” nostalgia” for the 1980s, there was a feeling that the time was wrong. At that time, we were busy with opening up, absorbing, sublating and criticizing, but we didn’t know that what we absorbed and criticized at that time were actually some expired theories, while for the legal movement and theoretical innovation in full swing at that time, we hardly touched the path of introduction. Today, when American scholars have already done further research along the theoretical basis laid down in the 1980s, we are still doing the work of translating and introducing the communication, and the participation in the dialogue on major theoretical issues in the legal circle around the world is still at a superficial level. If we say that there is a gap, it is probably a kind of difference.

In fact, when people miss the ” extraordinary time”, they miss the mentality of believing in the creed of ” tomorrow will be better”, because the best day is the one that gives people ” heart spirit”, which is also necessary to create a new ” extraordinary time”.