Essentially the common-law paradigm is an elaboration on the theme, the One and the Many, or the Universal and the Particulars. How these relate, in terms of human society, is one of the key questions for which societies have to make arrangements.

In terms of the political order, it is the question of “top-down” versus “bottom-up,” of legislation/codification versus “judge-made law,” of centralization versus decentralization, etc.

In the contemporary political debate, it is the question of centralized government-driven provision and distribution, versus the capitalist, market-driven order. Two diametrically opposed visions of integration stand behind these alternatives. The government-driven order is based on a splintered society, integrated by government in terms of interests. Decision-making is done by a central distributing power; hence, citizens are relieved of risk-taking and accountability; but to the same degree they are relieved of freedom.

The market-driven order is based on a pluralistic, associationalist society, integrated by the institutions of private law. It is based on decentralized, spontaneous decision-making, and entails both freedom and accountability: higher risk, but correspondingly higher reward.

Hence, citizens stand before a risk/reward calculus. In this sense, they get the regime they deserve, for their vote indicates the result of the calculus. Indeed, this is the trade-off: the benefits received from government are paid for by vote. In this way, an interest-group coalition is formed which may establish a government that on the face of it does not enjoy majority support. This topic will be explored in detail in the section on common-law politics.

In terms of the monetary order, the alternatives are a state-imposed, centrally administered money supply versus a market-driven money supply.

These and other phenomena find optimal resolution through the common-law order. Other solutions are essentially impositions.