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Happy Thanksgiving: And a Contrast between the United States and the United Kingdom.

“Do not talk politics on Thanksgiving” – sorry, but I am going to.

First Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

Now the politics…..

In the United States Senator Ted Cruz is considered unacceptably moderate by libertarians (although a Rubio Political Action Committee is busy slamming Senator Cruz for his vote against, warrantless, mass spying by the NSA).

However, Senator Cruz is campaigning to end (not just cut – actually abolish) the Federal Departments of Commerce (Corporate Welfare), Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.

Senator Cruz is a leading candidate for the Republican nomination to be President of the United States of America.

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom…….

The government is INCREASING government spending in all these areas – yesterday’s “Autumn Statement” made it clear (if there was any doubt) that the government is fully committed to a Keynesian policy of seeing government spending as a “stimulant” to the economy – whether it is subsidies to house builders, education spending, “Tax Credit” welfare spending, “overseas aid”, “infrastructure” schemes, new energy schemes – or anything else.

This is a policy supported by most university trained economists and the media – who am I (a poverty stricken nonentity) to oppose it? Of course there is no political party with much Parliamentary strength in Britain that thinks the government is spending too much money – they all think the Conservative Party government is spending TOO LITTLE money and should spend MUCH MORE than the British Chancellor laid out yesterday.

And the British Official Opposition?

Mr John McDonnell (the “Shadow Chancellor”) produced a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book” read from it, with approval, and denounced the Chancellor (Mr Osborne) for not following its policy on “productive work”. Mao never actually did an honest day’s work in his life – he even refused to help on his father’s farm as a boy. What Mao did do is murder tens of millions of people – this is the regime (that ended in 1976 – China is now a “capitalist” country, although still governed by a political dictatorship) that Mr McDonnell was quoting from with approval.

See “Mao: The Untold Story” and also the many works of Frank Dikotter. Showing that Mao was the largest scale mass murderer in human history.

Anyone who thinks there is a real alternative to the British Conservative Party in Parliament should have a hard look at the totalitarian (yes – totalitarian) Labour Party opposition.

In relation to the United States some people (such as me) might accuse Mr Obama of having a Marxist background – but he does not make speeches endorsing the policies of Mao.

Nor do American conservatives push a government mandated “Living Wage” or make speeches demanding more government spending on everything in sight.

Any more than American conservatives support “Gun Control”, bans on “Hate Speech”, or support “Social Justice”.

The United States has many terrible problems – and may well fall.

But America is not yet Britain. It is still different.

So Happy Thanksgiving.

Bacon, Hobbes and a Coke Anyone? : Addendum

Paul added the following comment to his original posting, and requested that it be posted. Happy to oblige. Minor editing to original (typo fixed, unnecessary break in exposition removed); Categories added. –Julie

[Original: Comment to "Bacon, Hobbes and a Coke Anyone?" by Paul Marks
November 2, 2015 at 7:51 pm]

Bentham gets worse over time. He starts off horrified by the violence the American War of Independence and (more) the French Revolution – he then draws the wrong conclusion that talk of “rights” and “natural law” is the cause of this violence (and can not even seem to tell the difference between the private property based American Revolution and the collectivist, Rousseau style, French Revolution) .

Bentham then decided to throw the baby out with the bath water – by rejecting any of natural rights (“nonsense on stilts”) or natural law, just accepting the Hobbesian Positivist definition of law as just the will of the ruler of rulers (despotism – tyranny).

But Bentham remains, sort of, free market for awhile – in that he wants the state to have absolute power (no natural rights or natural law either) but NOT use it much. But then he comes up with more and more statist ideas – ending in the 13 Departments of state that he hoped would control just about everything in a despotism that would have made the Ottoman Empire blush.

But Bentham is not an isolated example – this follower of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes is the master of the Bowood Circle and the “Westminster Review” crowd. People such as James Mill and his son John Stewart Mill.

The new “liberalism” of endless attacks on the Crown (part of what Bentham claimed to be defending against the French Revolution), endless attacks against the Church of England (the Anglican Church) “Tory” people (many of whom were actually Old Whigs such as Edmund Burke) and so on.

Notice the TRICK (and it is a trick) – freedom has gone from wanting the state to be limited, to wanting “freedom from tradition” and “freedom from God” (“free” thinking as automatic atheism) and the desire for a NEW STATE.

A professional civil service (not people appointed by minister) controlled by “scientific” experts – as with Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis”.

An elected government with the vote for everyone – but the elections to be essentially FAKE, as the professional “experts” (people like James Mill and J.S. Mill) would really control everything regardless of who won the election – via a professional Civil Service and “education”.

And the land owners?

The people who the Old Whigs had rightly understood to be the foundation of liberty against the danger of an all mighty state.

The Westminster Review crowd Bentham’s bastard “liberal” children HATED the land owners as the “landed interest” – they wanted “free trade in land”, presented as the end of entails and so on, but really a Trojan Horse for land nationalisation.

For the domination of the STATE over land – as with the Ottoman Empire (and justified by the economics of David Ricardo – refuted by Frank Fetter).

This is the “little” secret behind the “liberalism” of Bentham and the Mills.

It is a “democratic” door way into the all mighty state of the Ottoman Empire – but without Islam.

Instead of Allah it is the state (the “scientific” “liberal” state) that would be worshipped – as long as it was controlled by “enlightened” experts (themselves) serving “the greatest good of the greatest number”.

Yes the above is unfair to the Mills – they (especially J.S. Mill) did have a real believe in freedom of speech and so on.

But they have no philosophy to back it up their belief in freedom of speech – the attempt to of J.S. Mill to reconcile his (sincere) belief in Freedom of Speech with his support for the unlimited New State (with an end to the “landed interest” and so on) is a terrible failure.

It is not “just” a lack of faith in God – it is the lack of any faith in any higher law (one can believe in natural justice without believing in God). Legal Positivism – the idea that the state has no foundational limits and that “law” is just the will of the ruler or rulers.

That is at the heart of the new “liberalism” – and it is what Mill (and modern “liberals”) get from Bentham, and he got from Thomas Bacon and Francis Bacon.

And Bentham (where ever you are) please note – this Legal Positivism is at the heart of the French Revolution you said you opposed.

Rousseau is not so different from Hobbes as people imagine – indeed they share fundamental principles.

The King (or rather despot) of Hobbes is like the “Lawgiver” or “the people” of Rousseau – there are no limits on their power.

The land of the Church (or individuals) can be looted by such a state and given to anyone they feel like giving it to.

Edmund Burke was correct – the “freedom” of the French Revolution was just old slavery in disguise.

The French Revolutionary regime was much the same as the despotism of the Ottoman Empire.

And so is an aspect (a side) of the new “liberalism” today.

And note this:

Religion is not actually the key point here.

For example Martin Luther was sincerely religious – but he embraced determinist philosophy and collectivist politics.

The Anglican position is (or was) fundamentally different – due to the influence of Richard Hooker and others.

And Ayn Rand was a passionate atheist (a mocker of silly religious people – people like me).

Yet Rand was also a passionate defender of humans as beings (agents – not the flesh robots of Martin Luther and Thomas Hobbes) and of natural justice.

Bacon, Hobbes and a Coke anyone?

Paul Marks

Yes Paul wrote this not me. I cannot change my bye-line as I don’t know how. Don’t know why he didn’t post it himself… but bye the bye…

It is was well known in the 17th and 18th centuries that Francis "The New Atlantis" Bacon, he who claimed that judges should be lions UNDER the throne – i.e. that the powers of government be unlimited, and his secretary Thomas Hobbes, the determinist and defender of despotism, were arch enemies of liberty.
The great enemy of Sir Francis Bacon was Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke, and the great enemy of Thomas Hobbes were the principles of the Common Law in general – Hobbes being "the philosopher" who set himself, in print, against a "student of the Common Law of England".
In "The New Atlantis" Francis Bacon sets out his vision for a collectivist utopia ruled by a technological elite.
Thomas Hobbes does not set out such a vision – but he does, at great length, seek to refute both philosophical and political liberty.
According to Hobbes all choices are predetermined, humans being flesh robots. There is, according to Hobbes, no moral freedom that the state might violate – it simply does not exist. Nor is any resistance to the state attacking other people legitimate – although, as a beast-like conditioned reflex, resistance to the state attacking one’s self (although the "self", the "I", does not, properly speaking, exist to Thomas Hobbes) is to be expected.
All this was well know in the 1600s and 1700s – neither Sir Francis Bacon or Thomas Hobbes really tried to hide it, and both Whig and Tory opposed them. A Tory such as Dr Johnson opposed them just as much as Old Whig such as Edmund Burke did.
Somehow in the 19th century this changed.
From the 19th century onwards it became quite mainstream for "conservatives" and "liberals" to cite, with approval, Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes.
For example Maitland, a well thought of Victorian legal writer, blithely cites Thomas Hobbes without seeming to know that to the Common Lawyers of the time, and long afterwards, Thomas Hobbes was the arch enemy. A lawyer of the age of Chief Justice Sir John Holt (he of 1688 and all that) would have been just as opposed to the doctrines of Thomas Hobbes as lawyers of his own life time were.
This blithe citing of Bacon and Hobbes, in political matters, continues today – by many self described conservatives and libertarians.

The conservative Michael Oakeshott at least condemned Francis Bacon for wanting an all-powerful-state, but Oakeshott praised Bacon’s secretary Thomas Hobbes – seemingly unaware that Hobbes also wanted an all-powerful-state (no right, let alone duty, to help other people attacked by a despotic government) and that Hobbes regarded humans as non-beings, as just flesh-robots whose every word and action is predetermined.

The idea that Hobbes is better than Bacon because Francis Bacon wanted an all-powerful-state for economic reasons (to make nature "yield what she has never yet yielded") and Hobbes wanted an all-powerful-state to create "peace" collapses – as Hobbes would do nothing if the all-powerful-state he supports decides to conduct a Francis "The New Atlantis" Bacon style economic policy (technocratic collectivism). As long as the state left Thomas Hobbes, personally, alone he would do nothing (not raise a weapon) if the state decided to burn everyone else alive.

How do I know this? Because Thomas Hobbes made it obvious – again, and again, and again. The Hobbesian "person" (really predetermined flesh-robot by Hobbesian philosophy) would resist if he personally was attacked (not by real choice – but by some sort of conditioned reflex) – but the Hobbesian will not risk their lives to save anyone else from tyranny.

Followers of Thomas Hobbes (or Francis Bacon) are not the sort of person that would support the Glorious Revolution of 1688, or the American Declaration of Independence of 1776. Or the resistance to the Nazis during World War II.  Or the resistance to the Marxists in the Baltic States or the Ukraine (or anywhere) after World War II.

Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes are the arch enemies of liberty – this was, as I said at the start, known in the English speaking world in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was not some secret, special, knowledge – it was a common place, everyone interested in philosophy and politics knew this.

Yet this common knowledge is, somehow, forgotten – and seems to remain forgotten.
The question is – why?
Why was the common knowledge of 17th and 18th centuries, that Bacon and Hobbes were the arch enemies of basic and constitutional liberties, forgotten in the 19th century – or at least became far less well known? Why does it remain largely forgotten – why do self described conservatives and libertarians cite Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes as if they were not evil?
I have thought about this for years – but have failed, I admit that, to come up with a convincing solution to the problem.
The closest I have come is to put the problem back a stage………..
Some of the philosophical ideas of Thomas Hobbes were repackaged in less harsh language by David Hume. And the idea of an all mighty state, that of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, is pushed by Jeremy Bentham with his denial of natural law and his support for 13 Departments of State covering most aspects of life.
But putting the problem back a stage is not solving the problem.
After all why was David Hume popular in philosophy? And why was Jeremy Bentham popular in politics? And specifically with people who called themselves conservatives or liberals in the late Victorian age – when the Whigs and Tory people of the 18th century had opposed these thinkers?
Also one can admire David Hume without admiring Francis Bacon or Thomas Hobbes – so to say "Mr X was popular so Mr Y was popular" just does not work, it is not a solution to the problem.
As Harold Prichard pointed out 80 years ago, see his essay in "Moral Obligation", even liberal critics of Thomas Hobbes shared the basic assumptions of Thomas Hobbes – for example T.H. Green, the subject of the essay in "Moral Obligation", did.
What had been a small group at the start of the 19th century, basically the Westminster Review crowd, had by the end of the Victorian age become general and mainstream.
Among legal thinkers such as Maitland, philosophers such as T.H. Green, and on and on.
This continues into modern times…….
With great conservative thinkers such as the late M.J. Oakeshott,  writing with admiration about Thomas Hobbes, and self proclaimed Classical Liberals and Libertarians basing their assumptions on Hobbes and his master.
I do not know why.

A brief example of how the collectivist left can use even free market points to their advantage.

Putin’s boy, Max Keiser, has been in Chicago recently. He and his charming wife were discussing the dire fiscal situation in the city, and in the United States (and the word) generally (I do not do “links” – and I would not “link” to these people anyway).

Mr and Mrs Keiser correctly pointed out that the Chicago government pension schemes are underfunded – that there is not the money to pay for the promises made to various groups of government workers by the Chicago government.

However, rather than blame the wild spending government of Chicago for making impossible promises (in return for the political support of the unions at election time – over decades) Mr Keiser and his lady wife blamed “low interest rates”.

Again they, quite correctly, made the observation that it is government intervention (the Federal Reserve monetary policy) that keeps interest rates low – but then made the jump of claiming that the promises of the Chicago government (and Welfare State governments generally – around the world) could be kept if only interest rates were allowed to rise.

Two free market points – pointing to the House-of-Cards nature of government pension schemes and pointing to the wild monetary policies of Central Banks. But used to make a leftist point – that all the wild promises could be kept if only interest rates were allowed to rise……

Of course the promises could NOT be kept – indeed the government schemes would collapse even quicker if interest rates were allowed to rise, because the stock markets would collapse and the whole bubble economy would also collapse (eventually it will anyway – but if interest rates went up it would happen at once).

However, Putin’s boy does not tell his viewers that – he, instead, tells the people of Chicago (and Greece and …..) that they could all live in a magic Fairy Castle held in the air by Moonbeams, if only it were not for (you-guessed-it) “the rich”.

The same Class War Marxist crap that the left have been pushing for ever (before Karl Marx, Rousseau did it – it goes all the way back to Plato). But with a “free market” mask put on it.

The Greek Tragedy – of “This Is What Democracy Looks Like”.

Savage mobs celebrating the wild “Social Justice” victory of the “will of the people” over the greedy Jewish “banksters” (whether it is in National Socialist Germany, or the Argentina of President Peron, or modern Greece) are not the only face of democracy – it can have a non “Occupy” face (a democracy that REJECTS the politics of “help the poor” by bankruptcy – the politics of the Black Flag, “Golden Dawn” as well as the Red Flag socialists of Greece), the face of a conservative Swiss Canton or a conservative New Hampshire township is also a face of democracy – a face that REJECTS the Black Flag and the Red Flag of “Occupy” types.

However, too often, democracy is about politicians (such as President Peron or Mr Hitler) promising the people easy solutions – “you can have everything you want – if you support ME”, no need to pay for anything, “the rich” and “big business” will pay.

This has been the destruction of democracy since the time of Pericles (the real destroyer of Ancient Athens) – all too often voters have opted for the easy path, the path of “Social Justice” of government “help the poor” and blame everything on “the rich” – particularly if “the rich” are “aliens”.

The “libertarian left” can play no games this time. They can not blame “war” (Greece has not been at war for more than 60 years), and they can not blame “high interest rates” – indeed artificially LOW interest rates have kept this farce going for many years longer than a hard money (not “gold standard” – but real gold-as-money) free market world would have tolerated.

The government spending and public services promised by Greek governments for many years are impossible – the out of control Welfare State ends up eating itself (eating the people – even as they cheer).

But it is no different in Puerto Rico, or Chicago, or California or…….

I often disagree with the late “Sage of Baltimore”, he was often wrong – but he was also often right.

And he was telling the truth when he said……

“Democracy is the system by which people get to ask for what they want, and they deserve to get it – GOOD AND HARD”.

The Greek people have voted for the wild spending (that has led to their 340 billion Euro debt) to continue – they have voted for their own destruction, and the minority must (sadly) suffer along with the majority And if they think they have suffered already – they have a terrible shock coming.

But Americans also opted for the easy path – in 1936 and 1964 they rejected any retreat from the path to destruction.

Ronald Reagan promised cuts in “waste and corruption” – utterly missing the point.

As long as democracy means “free stuff for the voters” (it need NOT mean that – if people are more like John Adams than Pericles, thrift, hard work and self denial, rather than lovely speeches and wild promises) then not just Greece is doomed.

We are all doomed.

Happy July 4th.

And I mean Happy – in spite of all that follows, as such things as the Declaration of Independence (or parts of it) and, especially, the Bill of Rights deserve to be honoured. The world stands of falls by the fate of the American Bill of Rights – that really is the truth.

The first American Independence Day that sticks in my memory was that of 1976 – the 200 anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Millions of people were being murdered by the Communists in Indo China (Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam), but at least “the war was over” as far as the United States was concerned (for the Boat People and so on it was rather different). No conscription any more – and no wild inflation either (unlike Britain), sit back in 1976 and watch all those television shows set in California – which, in those days, was part of the United States (rather than Mexico and the rest of the Third World), although California was already in decline – Governor Moonbeam was busy unionising government work. By way Governor Moonbeam is back as Governor again. Now he is as bald as I am, but he clings to the ideas of his youth – as I suppose (in a very different way) I do also.

Richard Nixon was out of the Whitehouse (although he had done nothing that the media had not winked at when Johnson, Kennedy and Roosevelt did it) and the bumbling, but decent, Gerald Ford was President. America was at peace – overseas, and (to some extent) with itself (although violent crime in the cities, such as New York, was out of control – an evil fruit of 1960s “liberalism”).

And segregation was finally over in the South – the final holdouts, big spending Democrat populists Lester Maddox in Georgia and Governor Wallace in Alabama having gone or given way. Not that the Democratic party had given up racial groups politics – it had just gone over to promising stuff to black people because they were black, rather than to white people because they were white. As that charming man President Johnson said about his welfare schemes and “civil rights” laws – “now the niggers will vote for us for a hundred years”.

The idea of not appealing to people on the basis of rich-versus-poor or black-versus-white being alien to the Democrats. The central observation of Classical Liberalism, that the long term interests of “rich” and “poor” (or of people in different racial groups) are THE SAME, escaping the modern Democrats. Although President Grover Cleveland seems to have understood – although he neglected to impress his Southern colleagues with this point. Hard though it may be believe now – but in the 19th century the New York State Democratic Party (not the Democratic Party as a whole) was the more free market of the two major parties.

Although there was a major reduction in the size of government under President Grant, Grant did not campaign on that basis – his was more of a “vote for me – I am General Grant” campaign (rather like Ike in 1952 and 1956), indeed the first Republican to campaign and win on the basis of reducing the size and scope of government was Warren Harding in 1920 (and he did it – Harding is perhaps the most unfairly attacked President in American history, in reality he was a sincere anti big government man and a sincere defender of black people against lynching and other persecution).

In 1876 (not 1976) the Republicans were the party of tariffs (although not the “Liberal Republicans” , “liberal” meaning almost the reverse of what it does now, who were free traders). This was the time of President Grant and the “Gilded Age”.

An age that is rightly denounced for its corruption – but the good side of the hundredth anniversary of American independence is often forgotten.

Taxation was low (no income tax or corporation tax) and so was government spending – sorry “libertarian left” but “Corporate Welfare” is a lot less expensive that welfare-for-all (which does NOT make “Corporate Welfare” right). The Welfare State (created in two stages – 1930s [some of the 1930s stuff was actually repealed in the late 1940s - the glorious "Do Nothing Congress" elected in 1946] and 1960s and then left to grow and grow) was not in existence.

Also blacks were not subject to the full force of “Jim Crow” law in 1876 – but soon the United States army was to be withdrawn from the South and the KKK and the “Redshirts” (and other Democrat armed terror groups) were to take back power in the South. Take back by power by threats and by murder – both of black people and of white people who opposed the terror groups.

Not only was (not “was not”) the Civil War about slavery – especially its expansion (the Charles Beard, Woodrow Wilson, Murray Rothbard “economic class conflict” historical theory is wrong). But the war did not really end in 1865 – the Southern “Bourbon” Democrats (who looked down on the KKK and the Redshirts – but did little to stop their activities) may have had some regard for private property rights (of white people) but leftist Democrats such as Governor Bilbo of Miss combined vicious racism (and anti Semitism) with a hatred of “big business” and a fanatically faith in government (in his own wise hands of course) to do good for “the poor”, “the little guy”, “the workers” (the ancient lie that goes back all the way to Pericles).

Almost needless to say the real causes of Southern poverty – the corrupt and arbitrary nature of power (government and armed private groups) that discouraged private investment and capital accumulation (the “capital” of the old South had been largely human) were not taught – then or now. Any more than many Southern Democrats being IN FAVOUR of “gun control” is taught – I hope the reader can work out which people these Democrats wanted not to be allowed to own firearms.

Even as late as the 1960s the father of Condi Rice had to drive off a Klan attack on his home with a rifle – and the local Church was bombed by the Klan (and some childhood friends of Condi were killed) – the modern South of such people as Senator Tim Scott was, as yet, far in the future even in 1976.

In the future – or in the past, as there had been black United States Senators and Governors before (in the brief period that came to an end in 1876). But the time was not right – and, to be blunt, people were often not really either. Although white politicians were often just as wild spending as black ones – in the post Civil War chaos.

Eastern Tennessee has remained constant since the 1860s – Republican (and the right sort of Republican), rejecting both racial politics and class (“rich versus poor” politics).

And the Bill of Rights? If you need me to tell you why they are important (to the world – not just the United State), you will have to wait for another time (this means – work it out for yourself, they are the essence of limited government, of universal principles not dependent on time or place).

I am tired. It is not 1976 – I am old. For individual people grow old – and die. Only principles live on.

You don’t get me

I’m part of the union.

New video doing the rounds of the right wing blogs right now here in Oz. It was up, then down, then up again. I guess some students, environmentalists and, maybe, possibly, even a few lawyers weren’t happy with its contents.

Come on, I know it’s a union, but you gotta have at least some sympathy for them…


H/T Tim Blair

Magna Carta and King John, Nasby and King Charles, and now – the modern world.

Counting Cats and John Galt (and Julie) have already given their thoughts about Magna Carta (the “Great Charter” of 1215) and I will read their thoughts and comment in due course – but first some thoughts of my own…..

I was at the 470 anniversary (yes I know, Captain Pedants, – people used the Julian calendar at the time, so the “real” anniversary is in a few days time) of the Battle Of Nasby over the weekend (at Nasby in Northamptonshire) and was struck by how the principles of Magna Carta (some 800 years ago now – in a few days time Captain Pedants) influenced the thinking of BOTH sides.

That the Parliamentary side rejected an unlimited, absolute, monarchy is well known (the cause of John Hampden, of no paying of “Ship Money” and so on) – but so did the Royalist side. They to believed they were fighting for the law and basic liberties – as did King Charles himself, see his speech at his execution. When Charles said he supported the liberty of people in their lives and goods (that this was liberty was – that liberty was not being part of the government) there is no reason to suppose that, facing certain death and God’s judgement, he was not sincere at that moment (whatever he may have thought before). Or that the men who died in the Royalist army at Nasby were any less sincere in their belief in limited government than the men who died fighting in the Parliamentary army.

Both sides at the Battle of Nasby (and the rest of the Civil War) believed they were fighting for the principles of Magna Carta and it is important to understand why.

Magna Carta was nothing to do with Parliament (which did not exist at the time), still less with democracy (the “divine right of the 51%”). Magna Carta was about the idea of limited government – the idea no one (including the King) could ignore the law, a rejection of the Roman law idea that law is the will of the ruler (or rulers) and may be changed according to the will (the whims) of the ruler or rulers.

Magna Carta was a “feudal” revolt in the name of the basic principles, the private property right principles, of the Common Law – against the idea of the unlimited power of the ruler (or rulers) that Roman Law (the law of the Roman Empire, not the Republic) stood for – ideas that were being reintroduced into Europe in the Middle Ages. The idea of the government being above the law and being able to change any law – this was what those who supported Magna Carta (and both sides in the English Civil War of the 1640s also) opposed.

This was, for example, the idea of the Edict of Quierzy in 877 (not as something new – but as an “old right”) that not even a King of France could take the land of one family and give it to another. Nothing to with Parliamentary government – but, rather, a rejection of Oriental Despotism (for example the Islamic world) where there were no private property rights limits on a the power of the rulers – just as there had been none on the powers of Roman Emperors.

Both sides at Nasby in 1645 (not just one side) held this principle of limited monarchy (limited government) – King John in 1215 is a very different case. King Charles is not King John.

The case of King Charles was not that he could do anything he felt like (certainly not – Charles was no rapist or robber like King John), his case was that Parliament (or rather certain individuals allegedly manipulating Parliament) were the true threat to the basic liberties (the property rights) of the people – such Parliamentarians as John Hampden honestly and sincerely believed that it was the King who was the threat to these property right basic liberties.

But what of RELIGION?

Many of the Parliamentarians (although not the chaplain of Parliament himself, the philosopher Ralph Cudworth – by the way those who seek to discredit Cudworth by pointing out that he believed in witches, simply show their own intellectual dishonesty) were ardent Calvinists – who believed that they were the “Elect” (predestined by God to go to heaven – and that their actions were not freely chosen, but were predetermined by God) – not so much formally “above the law” but the living embodiment of it (to confuse things some Royalists were Calvinists also, the idea that being on the Royalist side automatically meant a formal rejection of Predestination is a myth).

Some, again not all, of the Parliamentarians believed that the laws needed to be radically changed – or rather “restored” to be in line with the Bible. After all the Common Law had always been massively influenced by Christian law (Church Canon Law) and, although they would have been horrified to cite “Papist” sources, Parliamentarians believed (like the Catholic Scholastics) that “natural law is God’s law” (although the Scholastics added “and if God did not exist natural law would be exactly the same” they were natural law thinkers) – and some of them believed that Common Law had drifted away from God’s Law and needed to be restored to it.

This did, in the case of some (not all) Parliamentarians, indeed include the perversity of confusing crimes (i.e. aggressions) against the bodies and goods of others with sins – such things as adultery or dancing or the theatre (or even celebrating Christmas). Thus they fell short of the understanding of both some Common Law thinkers – and of some Catholic (and non Roman Catholic) Scholastics also.

The Royalists seized on this – how could men be fighting for liberty if they wanted to make every sin a criminal offence? Punish people for dancing, or seeing a play, or eating mince pies at Christmas?

And how could they be fighting to defend the weak against the aggression of the government (the King) if they attacked women for the “crime” of being Irish Catholics (as was the case after Nasby – doubly wrong as the women cut up were actually mostly Welsh)?

Thus the side of the King defended the claim that they (not their enemies) were fighting for basic liberty. And they pointed to the lack of due process and basic principles in the “legal system” of the Parliamentarians.

Even before the war Thomas Wentworth (betrayed by the King – in a desperate effort to keep the peace with Parliament) said at his mock “trial” (before his inevitable execution)………

“If a man can be put on trial for his thoughts, English law is dead”.

Thomas Wentworth demanded to know what specific crime he had allegedly committed (not that he allegedly had thoughts Parliament did not like) – as you-do-not-like-me-and-want-me-dead is not a “crime” that the Common Law recognises.

But it must be remembered that the Parliamentarians did NOT claim the right to make fundamental new laws – on the contrary they claimed to be defending the traditional law (based on the non aggression principle of justice – to each his own).

The Parliamentarians claimed to be the true supporters of the “Common Laws of England” – the defenders of the unchanging nature of basic law as it had been declared by Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke (see my post on “Dr Bonham’s case”) and was to be declared in the future by Chief Justice Sir John Holt (he of the period of 1688 and all that).

If Parliament in the 1640s had declared itself in favour of the Blackstone heresy of the 1700s (that Parliament can do anything it feels like doing) much of the Parliamentary army at Nasby (including its commander Sir Thomas Fairfax) would have declared for the King – and hanged, say, Colonel Oliver Cromwell from the nearest tree.

The Americans of 1776 were as religious as the Parliamentarians of the 1640s – but they also shared their belief (or at least the belief of the better Parliamentarians such as Sir John Hampden and Sir Thomas Fairfax, of Nasby, and his wife – the Lady Fairfax who called out “no – not even half of England” when the “trial” of King Charles claimed to be acting for England) in LIMITED GOVERNMENT – that Parliament could not just make up any “law” it liked. The Americans were no followers of Sir William Blackstone and his heresy that Parliament can do anything it feels like doing.

The authors of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were not followers of the determinist, moral relativist (if his denial of basic moral responsibility can even be described as “relativism”), and political absolutist (Legal Positivist) Thomas Hobbes (the enemy of the Whig tradition). They had far more in common with Ralph Cudworth and the Scots “Common Sense” philosopher Thomas Reid – we hold these truths to be self evident. And with the philosophers Noah Porter and James McCosh in the 19th century. And with the Oxford Realists Professor Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross (Major Ross) of the 20th century – firm enemies of the forces of evil (Hobbes and so on).

The vile and false doctrine, that Parliament can do anything it feels like, is that of the Victorian Maitland (and others) – not of the men on either side at Nasby in 1645, or the folk of Magna Carta in 1215.

As both Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke and Chief Justice Sir John Holt maintained – the fundamental Common law (the rights and liberties of persons) is not the creation of the whims of Parliament or of the King, and it can not be voided by the whims or either.

Sadly this is not the dominant modern view – the modern view is that government can plunder at will, changing the “law” as it feels like. Indeed modern “human rights” documents often call upon the government to plunder MORE, in the name of “Social Justice” (the opposite of the Common Law idea of justice as the non aggression principle of to each their own, private property rights) and “Positive Rights” – again the opposite of what the Common Law tradition (for example the American Bill of Rights) understands “rights” to be – i.e. limitations on government, not benefits and services from government.

Thomas Hobbes may have tried to appeal to the King (and then to Parliament) offering a “philosophy” of slavery and despotism as “peace” – but BOTH sides at the Battle of Nasby would have been horrified to be associated with Hobbesian doctrines.

The position of Hobbes is really the position of King John (that caused the revolt of Magna Carta against him) – that the ruler (or rulers) can do anything they feel like doing, and that there is no moral duty (no moral responsibility – based upon our agency, our free will) to come to the defence of others threatened with plundering by the state.

Modern governments are, too often, really the practices of King John (and Thomas Hobbes) – made into institutional form.

Charlie Kennedy

I didn’t have anything much against Charlie Kennedy. He was a politician who thought he could run my life better than I can, as they more or less all do. But unlike a lot of ‘em, he never really had the means to do very much. Sure he never had a real, adult job as such. He was content to enrich himself at the taxpayer’s expense in Westminster, plus whatever appearance money he could pick up for TV.

The two standout achievements that have been cited recently are opposition to the Iraq war and leading the Lib Dems to a recent electoral high water mark. Neither of these amount to very much in my view. When you are the third party, former home of the somewhat clueless protest vote, you almost have to oppose what party one and two support. Is it much of a stretch to believe the Lib Dems did a cynical electoral calculation rather than sober strategic analysis?

As to the resounding electoral triumph of 2005 you may think people were pissed off with Blair but couldn’t quite vote for Michael Howard and so found themselves, by default with Charlie’s army. What did the Lib Dems stand for? I don’t know. And this is the crux of their problem. Being a chameleon is handy when you are hiding, but useless when people want to know what you actually look like.

Then there is the alcoholism. I don’t much care how much he drank or how drunk he was. It’s not my affair. I can’t for the life of me, understand why having a son didn’t jolt him out of some ghastly habits as it did for me. If alcohol was related to his death (as is being hinted at), then I am less forgiving. Leaving an ex-wife is one thing, leaving a 10 year old boy fatherless is another.

And I know that culturally, we don’t deal with death very well. Perhaps it’s a reminder that one day, we will all be in the box. But I found the over-blown eulogies to this harmless drunk rather preposterous. He was variously the greatest politician of our times (?) best Lib Dem of the generation (you mean better than Clegg, Huhne, Oaten, Lamb or Hancock?), a great statesman (despite never holding any office of state).

Can we not just say “A somewhat amusing, essentially harmless drunk died a predictably early death. He never had a job or achieved very much and leaves a young son”

Is this not the truth?

Stand By Me…

Ben E King died yesterday.

He wrote and sung probably the best love song ever.

I know this because it was played at my marriage. I chose it.

I stood next to Elizabeth quite a few years ago but Ben E King was my wingman.

I don’t seem able to embed it but do listen.

A day to remember the evil of Marxism and the evil of others also.

Today, “May Day”, is a day to remember evil. The evil of Marxist socialism – and the murder of more than one hundred million people by the Marxists over the last hundred years.

To read such works as “The Black Book of Communism”, or the works of such historians as Robert Conquest or Frank Dikotter is to be reminded of the evil of Marxism. And such individual Marxists as Lenin, Stalin and Mao – along with the legion (legion of Devils) of others.

But today is also a day to remember those who failed the moral test of resisting the Marxists – indeed actively parroted their propaganda.

Sadly some “libertarians” were among such people. The late Murray Rothbard, and his followers, must not be forgotten on this day.

Just over 40 years ago (April 30th 1975) the late Murray Rothbard celebrated, actually celebrated, the conquest of the Republic of Vietnam by the Marxists – because (supposedly) for six hours there was no government. In short Rothbard celebrated what was to happen to the Boat People of Vietnam, and to the Cambodians in “Year Zero” (Pol Pot’s Marxist victory over the “puppets of American Imperialism”), and the mass slaughter in Laos. In fact Rothbard had parroted enemy propaganda over the Vietnam war for years.

Nor is this an isolated case. The Rothbardians opposed the whole Cold War – the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, all of it.

They parroted the lies of the enemies of the West (about American “Imperialism” and so on), and would have let the Marxists conquer the world – in the vain hope that non resistance in the wider world would have meant that the United States was left alone.

As Winston Churchill put it “an appeaser is someone who feeds everyone else to the beast – hoping it will eat him last”.

Without the CONTAINMENT of Marxism the slow forces of economic law (of the fact that socialism just does not work – at least not in the long term) would not have had time to undermine the Soviet Union and so on – but the Rothbardians opposed containment, they would have allowed the forces of Marxism to conquer Europe and the world, without American “intervention” to oppose them (including no CIA operations in the France and Italy after World War II).

Nor is the attitude of the Rothbardians confined to the Marxist socialists.

The Rothbardians openly oppose the support the United States gave to this country, the United Kingdom, during World War II – they would have allowed the National Socialists (Hitler and his Nazis) to conquer this land. The hatred of the late Murray Rothbard for the United Kingdom bordered upon the insane – hence his support for the IRA and so on.

To someone like the Rothbardian Ralph Rico (spelling alert – I am too annoyed to bother checking the spelling) Winston Churchill was not a hero – he was a “man of blood” whom the United States should not have supported against the National Socialists (the real “men of blood” – blud and boden).

To Murray Rothbard such “historians” (really dishonest propagandists) such as Gabriel Kolko and Harry Elmer Barnes were hero figures.

And, no, Rothbard did not confine his support of such beasts to their lies concerning the Cold War or their disguised Marxist account of the American government – which claims that the American government has in the 20th century has always been controlled by “the rich capitalists” or “the big business corporations” (with early 1900s Progressives “really” being the puppets of big business and so on).

Rothbard even supported Harry Elmer Barnes (see his obituary of this vile man) – the holocaust denier. Who first made his name denying German responsibility for the First World War (ignoring such facts as that the German Declaration of War upon France in 1914 was a tissue of lies – and that the German war aim was to dominate Europe and the world), but then went on to deny that the National Socialist (Nazi) government had any policy to exterminate the Jews.

To do as the late Murray Rothbard did, to get into bed with both the apologists for the Nazis and the apologists for the Marxists, is evil – and this evil must also be remembered on this day.

What is a libertarian?

Philosophically a libertarian is someone who believes in “free will” (agency – moral responsibility) the ability, with effort, to do other than we do. Politically a libertarian is someone who believes that an individual (or a corporation – such as a church, club, foundation, trading company….) being “rich” does NOT give people the right to loot. A libertarian is a FOE of the looting of “the capitalists” or “big business” – as well as a foe of the looting of anyone else. Nor do libertarians say “your ancestors stole this land centuries ago, so I have the right to take it now” – that would be the “argument” of a pig, not a libertarian.

Politically libertarians vary from hopelessly (pathetically) moderate people like me – who spend most of our time saying “I would not start from here” and worrying desperately about the old, the sick and the poor and what would happen to them if the present Welfare State collapsed rather than was reformed in the direction of self reliance and mutual aid. To, at the other extreme from me, strong confident people who would press a magic button and create anarcho capitalism this instant.

However, for all of us (from the most pathetically moderate libertarians, such as me, to the strong and proud anarcho capitalists at the other extreme from me) the two basic principles remain the same.

We believe that, with effort, human beings can do other than we do (that we are agents – that we have “free will”, that our freedom exists and is a moral freedom) and that no matter how “rich” (in land or other wealth) an individual or body corporate (trading company, church, whatever) is, their wealth should NOT be looted – and that would-be looters should be opposed.

Quote of the Week.

Mwah, mwah, mwah, ‘darling, haven’t seen you since the Cuba Libre fundraiser at Antonia Fraser’s; shall we sing the Internationale before or after the rosemary and shaved-truffle foccacia nibbles?’

Quentin Letts

Yes, the starting gun on the General Election has started… Yawn… and iDave is no different to the above assholes.

1 + 2 is 75 in Lucy land

It may seem like I am singling out Labour women; not so. I don’t listen to much politics these days, but I happened to see Lucy Powell being killed by Brillo on the internet.
He starts asking her about the deficit and she starts mouthing the line to take, tax rises for the rich, spending cuts and an increased tax base because zero hour contracts will be abolished. In Lucy-world this accounts for £75B.

Brillo asked deeper questions “What tax rises?” “We will reverse tory tax cuts for millionaires by increasing the top rate for people on over £150,000” (Apparently if you gross £150K and net about a hundred, you are automatically a millionaire – in some way). How much will that raise Brillo wondered, Lucy didn’t have the figures. Brillo unhelpfully did. Between zero and £2B. What else he wondered. “Well we’ve identified spending cuts; we’ll freeze ministerial salaries and stuff. Another billion, tops.

Brillo was unimpressed, Lucy looked flustered. “We will increase the tax base by abolishing zero hour contracts” It did not seem to occur to Lucy that this could actually kill some jobs and if you take more from the employer, he’ll pay less tax. Brillo said this would affect about 300,000 people and the IFS reckoned the accounted for £2-3B. “What about the other £72B is you want to tackle the deficit?” he wondered.

She got stroppy (sic). I invite you to watch the video if you can stand it on Guido.
With the fastest growing economy in Europe, it’s a curiously modest ambition to want to borrow a bit less. So even if these Neverland figures added up (and they don’t by a country mile), the best they aspire to do, is to put your kids in still more debt, a bit slower? Desperate, clueless stuff.

God alive

Guido featured this one. It’s quite amazing. I don’t expect much from thoughtless modern politicos, but this maybe a new low. No it’s not child rape, or expenses fiddling, or perverting the course of justice, or starting pointless wars, or taking bribes, or lying (so far as I can tell), this one seems to actually believe this.

I refer of course to that paragon of intellectual rigor, Rachel Reeves. You may recall Labour’s work and pension spokesman couldn’t actually say what the pension level was and she seemed unclear on how it was actually made up. In any other walk of life, not having the most basic command of your brief gets you fired. Not so modern politics.

But today she seemed to surpass even that low point. Rachel it seems, wants to abolish the so-called bedroom tax. What this actually means is that if you live in a house where the government (i.e. the rest of us) pay your rent and you under occupy it, you have a choice. Move to a smaller house appropriate to your needs (and keep getting it free) or pay the extra costs for the extra space. For some reason which escapes me, Labour seems to regard this as the moral equivalent of jailing Nelson Mandela.

Anyway, Rachel wants to abolish this and “with the money saved” spend £175M on Scottish poverty (You will recall how the Scots are diabolically underpaid by the Barnett formula and this is in no way a bribe to the possible SNP voters). Only there’s a tiny problem.

By not asking people to pay extra for houses that are too big for them, government revenue drops. (you see how that works, government gets less money, so it has…less money, not more).

I’m almost embarrassed for the woman. This is presumably Labour policy. Is there any kind of audit going on at all? Do the shadow cabinet just say stuff and it is sacrosanct and unchallengeable? Do doubters of the final victory face a Utah firing squad? No. It’s simply group think and a refusal to think counter-revolutionary thoughts. And she is allegedly some kid of economist.

She could very soon end up around the cabinet table in number 10. Incitatus would do less damage.

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