No doubt it would be all wrong to assume (as the old school of Liberal politicians used to do) that law consists merely of rules of decision, and that the State has no business to organize society directly by means of law. Many modern agrarian institutions have arisen directly out of State activities; modern social legislation has already created enormous organizations; and above all, the State organizes itself by means of its military, governmental, and administrative institutions. Notwithstanding all that, the bulk of the law enacted by the State undoubtedly consists of rules of decision. Broadly speaking, the State can do nothing but issue commands to its officials, while the officials can do nothing but interfere when they are appealed to, and, as a rule, that is true even where they ought to act "ex officio." However, the attempt to change social life by means of rules of decision rarely accomplishes its purpose perfectly; generally speaking such means are inadequate to the ends. People go on just as before, even if once in a while a lawsuit is decided differently from what would have been the case under the former rule. If at the present moment a statute were to be passed giving the decisive authority in all family matters
2 [An "obligatio naturalis," in the Roman law, is a liability void so far as the possibility of enforcing it goes, while it is still executory; yet, if it has been executed, it may become the basis of further legal consequences.-Transl.] to the mother rather than to the father, the new law would probably have an effect only in the comparatively rare cases of judicial decisions relating to family affairs. The social organization of the family would probably not be at all changed thereby. Anybody who should assert that the broad foundations of social life, such as property, contract, family, succession, were established by such petty instrumentalities, or that their development was materially dependent on them, would be contending against the plainest evidence.