Freedom brings Happiness
All people desire freedom. We can only grow and learn to the degree that we are free. We can only know true fulfilment to the degree that we are free. It is only through being free that mankind can reach his potential. In short, we can only be happy to the degree that we are free, for those things which bring us true joy can only be obtained through the use of those faculties which freedom vouches as safe to us; and through experience we know that being forced or coerced is anathema to both the human spirit and human enterprise – loss of liberty brings only misery.
History is the Story of the Rise and Fall of Freedom
And yet freedom is something we can easily take for granted – and just as easily lose. History’s repeated cycles are evidence enough of this. Countless civilisations have come and gone, many of them destroyed because they surrendered their freedom little by little until it was too late. For a nation to lose its freedom there need be no military attack. It can be lost because the citizens of that nation have allowed themselves to be deceived through apathy, distractions, fear, ignorance and ebbing morals.
Britain is not immune.
There are Two Forces At Work in the World
Throughout history there have been two competing philosophies of government. One holds to the idea that sovereignty lies in the people and that people have inherent and inalienable natural rights that precede the formation of, or exist prior to, the establishment of government. This philosophy is called Common Law.
The other philosophy teaches that sovereignty lies in an absolute ruler or body of rulers and that rights exist only inasmuch as such rulers grant them. In effect there are no rights, only privileges. This philosophy has a number of names but most popularly is called Civil Law.
Common Law and Civil Law are two opposites. They cannot be reconciled.
J. Reuben Clark, one of the foremost U.S. Constitutional lawyers and statesmen of the Twentieth Century, Under Secretary of State during President Calvin Coolidge‘s presidency, and author of the very skilful Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine, had this to say about these opposing philosophies of government:
“During the centuries, these two systems have had an almost deadly rivalry for the control of society, the Civil Law, and its fundamental concepts, being the instrument through which ambitious men of genius and selfishness have set up and maintained despotisms; the Common Law, with its basic principles, being the instrument through which men of equal genius, but with love of mankind burning in their souls, have established and preserved liberty and free institutions.”
What is Sovereignty?
In order to fully grasp the gulf between these two ideologies we will need to understand the meaning and importance of sovereignty.
In terms of a nation, sovereignty is the exclusive right to make and enforce its own laws, and to judge disputes of the law. Under Common Law the government can only act because the people (the creator of government) have authorised it. Hence the people are sovereign. The government derives its just powers from the governed. Such a government, based on Common Law, cannot justly possess powers that do not first exist in the individual. In other words, the people cannot authorise government to do something that they first have no right to do, and neither can government take to itself those powers the people have not specifically delegated to it.
Sovereignty can be thought of as existing on many levels but this is only representative as it ultimately resides in (and is never taken from) the people as individuals. It is the people who are the masters, government the servant.
The three cornerstones of national sovereignty are political, military and economic independence.
Though nationalism was once very similar in definition to patriotism and independence, it is now often used to refer to a negative rather than a positive concept. Supranationalism, given much more popular publicity than the latter, is the concept that the nation-state no longer matters, that interdependence is better than independence, and that it is necessary to form regions of countries into centrally controlled blocs with the probability of merging those blocs later on to form a world government. Thus supranationalism is merely the process of political globalism.
Let us now define nationalism. Perhaps one of the finest explanations came from Herbert Hoover who said:
“We must realise the vitality of the great spiritual force which we call nationalism. The fuzzy-minded intellectuals have sought to brand nationalism as a sin against mankind. They seem to think that infamy is attached to the word ‘nationalist’. But that force cannot be obscured by denunciation of it as greed or selfishness – as it sometimes is. The spirit of nationalism springs from the deepest of human emotions. It rises from the yearning of men to be free of foreign domination, to govern themselves. It springs from a thousand rills of race, of history, of sacrifice and pride in national achievement.”
Nationalism, then, is an awareness of, and a willingness to defend and promote, the character and sovereignty of our country (patriotism); it is based upon the same feeling we have to grow as individuals, to be self-reliant and to otherwise enrich our character and defend our right to self-determination.
Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower, conveyed the attitude a nation should consider regarding its own national sovereignty:
“There is one and only one legitimate goal of…foreign policy. It is a narrow goal, a nationalistic goal: the preservation of our national independence.”
Today the foreign departments of the major governments of the world seem to be much at odds with Benson’s belief – Indeed, the very opposite. In a time when, history’s lessons forgotten, there is again a centralist movement towards the few governing the many, we must ask ourselves if this is wise. What does history teach us? How does it measure up to tried and true principles? Does it make sense in light of self-evident truths and plain old common sense?
One of the reasons why some support the spirit of “supranationalism” (whether it be globalisation or regionalisation) is because of a Utopian or (what they suppose to be) a religious ideal. Ezra Taft Benson put straight those with such ideas in no uncertain language:
“We must put off our rose-coloured glasses, quit repeating those soothing words but entirely false statements about world unity and brotherhood, and look at the world as it is, not as we would like it to become…We would be committing national suicide to surrender any of our independence, and chain ourselves to other nations in such a sick and turbulent world.”
To those who think that changes in the world somehow change the rules of human nature and the principles of government, Benson further adds:
“The world is smaller, you say? True, it is, but if one finds himself locked in a house with maniacs, thieves and murderers – even a small house – he does not increase his chances of survival by entering into alliances with his potential attackers and becoming dependent upon them for protection to the point where he is unable to defend himself. Perhaps the analogy between nations and maniacs is a little strong for some to accept. But if we put aside our squeamishness over strong language, and look hard at the real world in which we live, the analogy is quite sound in all but the rarest exceptions.”
In conclusion to this section here are, I submit, the problems with supranationalism:
Centralising power from the hands of many into the hands of a few goes against the most basic tenets of wisdom and all the lessons of history; for it only makes it easier for evil men to gain control of more people; and such centralism itself provides only a stronger attraction for ambitious and greedy individuals
Political agreements do not change the nature of people (and thus nations). Nations become more united (and less given to war) only through free, mutual and natural relationships. In other words, political agreements play no part except as a danger to stirring up contention by employing coercion rather than influence
Our first love and responsibility should be toward our own nation, as with our family above other families. To not love our own country first will not engender a genuine love for all other countries. To think otherwise is to be under the delusion of a false Utopian hope based on neither principle or an understanding of human nature
Centralising power will diminish individual liberty; the powers of a just and free government should reside with the people mainly, with a few powers delegated to local governments, and even fewer to the central government
The Prime Minister (or anyone else) is not authorised under law to act within a foreign political organisation or to yield sovereignty (this is treason). He is the Prime Minister of his country, elected to that responsibility and paid by the taxpayers of his country.
A Brief History of Civil and Common Law
As far as modern times are concerned, Civil Law originated chiefly from the Roman Empire. For this reason it is sometimes called Roman Law. This philosophy spread over continental Europe and, in the Eighteenth Century, the Civil Law ravaged France in what became known as the Reign of Terror. Today, born of its past and present geographical sway, Civil Law is also known as European Law.
Common Law has its roots in antiquity. Some believe it to have originated from the divine law of statutes and judgements given to the Israelites by Moses. Whatever its origins, it was brought across Europe and to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons. It was a law common to all those Peoples and hence became known as Anglo-Saxon Common Law. In Europe Civil Law was the legacy of the later Roman Empire, but England remained free of this influence and thus the Anglo-Saxon Common Law eventually came to be called English Common Law.
English Common Law was seriously compromised during the Norman Conquest which brought over the European Civil Law and imposed that system on Britain under the name of Feudalism. However, after long and bloody centuries, rights and freedoms were gradually won back and restored. Perhaps the primary and most notable date of this period is AD 1215 when the Magna Carta was signed – a document that is still held to be binding today as an important part of the British Constitution.
The Framers of the Constitution of the United States drew heavily upon Common Law when drawing up that remarkable freedom document. William E. Gladstone (1809-98), the British Prime Minister, was so impressed with the US Constitution that he said it was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man”. American freedom drew many of its constituent parts from English Common Law. Ireland, Malta, Australia, Canada and New Zealand also adopted (to some degree) the English Common Law in the founding of their own governments. The same cannot be said for Europe.
Common Law versus Corpus Juris
Common Law is a body of concepts and laws in harmony with natural rights and justice.Corpus Juris(Latin for “body of laws”) is a system of judicial laws or tenets rooted in Civil Law and thus based on privilege and the whims of rulers. The following table contrasts the practises (in theory) of the two systems. I have added explanatory notes in the first column in an attempt to highlight the importance of each point and its relationship to and/or effect upon natural rights.
Table 1.0 Common Law versus Corpus Juris
|COMMON LAW (UK/US system)*
|No arrest without evidence – thus the citizen is free from harassment by the police and other government officials
|No holding of suspects for more than a fixed and very limited time unless charges presented in open court – this prevents governments from violating the liberty of citizens by unduly detaining them or holding them for reasons other than criminal.Habeas Corpus (Latin for “having the body”) is the right (formally recognised in the Magna Carta) to have the prime evidence against any suspect considered publicly by a court of law within a very short period of arrest (usually 24 hours).
|Right to face your accuser and see evidence – anonymity of accusers would mean the government could fabricate testimonies; accusers (or witnesses) should be known so that they can be held accountable; the accused has no come back where this is not so. Evidence must be known to the accused or else government again could fabricate the same and give the accused no way to prove it false
|Lay MagistratesRight to trial by jury of one’s peers‘Adversarial’ model– under Common Law the really important matters are reserved to the people. It is the people of the country (represented by a jury) who act to provide a final legal check on the government by refusing to find a person guilty if they feel the law itself is either unjust or unjustly applied, and by limiting sentencing of criminals so that excessive punishments cannot be imposed. The people (peers) are sovereign and must make the final decision. To deprive a country of trial by jury is to deprive its people the last legal means of countering the government, leaving only the right of revolution as an option
|Right to an open court – a defendant must have the right to public witnesses in a trial or else government can act illegally in secret as well as bribe those who it knows will attend. Public and free access to a trial thus helps defend the defendant against miscarriages of justice
|Presumption of innocence (innocent until proven guilty) – Common Law always gives the benefit of doubt in favour of freedom. Unlike Corpus Juris it does not treat everyone like a potential criminal. This is perhaps the most important tenet, for with such an attitude of non-judgement many Corpus Juris laws would not have come into existence in the first place
|Protection against double jeopardy (cannot be tried more than once for the same criminal offence) – Clearly this right protects the defendant from being repeatedly tried until he is found guilty and thus affirms his right to the presumption of innocence
|Burden of proof on prosecutor (it is up to the prosecutor to prove you are guilty) – This is an integral part of the right to presumption of innocence (see above). A part of the right to free speech is to remain silent. Under Common Law there is no requirement or force used on the defendant to testify against himself. In a very real sense it is the charges themselves that are primarily on trial and the integrity of those who have brought them. If the burden was on the defendant to prove himself innocent many accusations made by enemies (knowing the burden would not be on them) could be brought to bear, and the defendant would be continually oppressed with the task of defending himself with eventually no recourse to the resources necessary to clear his name
* Sadly even these have diminished (both in the US and UK) as governments have departed from the tradition of Common Law.
It is hoped from the explanations above, and self-evident truth, that the reader will see that Common Law is founded in the liberty of the individual and Corpus Juris on the destruction of the same.
Courtesy of: D.Andrews
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