To place the retaliatory use of force under objective legal control — that is, under clearly defined laws that logically deduced from the principle of rights — those who make up society delegate their right to retaliate against those who initiate force, to the government.
To ensure no despot — whether a single dictator, a political pressure-group, or the democratic majority of the moment — may usurp the powers of government, and turn its machinery upon its citizens, every aspect of government action is codified, and carried out, according to objectively defined laws.
The supreme legal document of a proper society is the constitution — a citizen’s protection not only against private criminals but public ones also.
In a free society, every individual lives under the rule of law, as opposed to a whim-ridden rule of men. The rule of law has one purpose: to protect the rights of the smallest minority that has ever existed — the individual.
Such laws form a non-contradictory body of legislation, which holds an individual innocent until proven guilty. Contrast this to a library regulations which hold an individual guilty until proven innocent.
In a free society, it is the actions of government — and not the actions of citizens — that are regulated.