Thursday, 18 August 2011

The myth of 'The Rule of Law'

It's odd how many people accept this anodyne phrase without a moment's thought. Some fool of a scribbler on the Guardian uses the phrase twice in one article without once giving a moment's consideration as to its meaning; "Strip away the high rhetoric from these attacks and they amount to a rejection of government being subject to the rule of law along with everyone else," he dribbles, and "Scapegoating human rights, judges and the European court may be effective politics in the eyes of some in government, but it corrodes respect for human rights and the rule of law."

The same idiot will no doubt today be penning a silly article condemning the severity of the riot sentences, without a moment's thought that this, too, is actually, erm, the Rule of Law. You see, 'law' is not some abstract, disinterested, neutral, fair, equitable, impartial code of goodness that all have a moral obligation to follow; 'law' is inherently political, made by governments. And others less democratically positioned. Would this numpty exhort North Koreans to be obedient to the dictatorship because the 'Rule of Law' is paramount? Would he have encouraged Germans to obey Hitler's anti-Jewish enactments for the same reason? Make no mistake; a law that forces us to give votes to lifers is no less political than one that seizes Jewish assets. 

Police bosses, too, are susceptible to parroting the phrase with their thinking-cells switched off, whilst simultaneously condemning 'political interference' in their job. Where on Earth do they imagine the 'law' comes from? Hugh Orde, in an interview with the Indie, has made it explicitly clear that he favours the unelected politicians of the ECHR making laws rather than the UK's elected ones. Well, that's an opinion - and one we're all free to hold or not. And we all get the equal chance to vote on such things. Orde's vote on the issue should be worth no less than anyone else's. 

But there are many of us who would repatriate the power to make our laws, to return the power to politicians that we elect directly, not politicians appointed by the Euro monster. For this we must repeal the Human Rights Act and replace the European Convention with a home-grown Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The Eurozone is approaching collapse - I gave it until September two months ago. We need to be free of the death-throes of this malign Leviathan as rapidly as possible. David Cameron please note. 


DeeDee99 said...

When it comes to the EU, Cameron has his fingers in his ears and is singing Lalalalalala as loudly as he can. He is not in listening mode and never will be. He is a fully paid-up member of the Eurocracy doing their bidding.

He also has Clegg holding him by the goolies, just in case he is tempted to step out of line. Clegg's EU pension is dependent on him supporting and advancing the aims of the EU and as he is very likely to be out of a job at the next GE (or before, if the country is really lucky) he needs another taxpayer-funded sinecure to fall back on.

If you want out of the EU, there is no option but to vote UKIP. Cameron made that the case.

Barnacle Bill said...

I used to regard the rule of law in this country as being legislation that had been formed by the politicians in response to the needs of the country, then tested and refined by our own judiciary.
Now it seems we are bogged down by ill thought out knee jerk laws from both Westminster and Bruxelles.
Which are further interfered with by foreigners sitting in Strasbourg.
Because of all this I'm beginning to have less and less respect for the rule of law. Tempered by an increasing attraction for a pitchfork and a flaming torch!

As for the EU, my only worry there is that Fatuous Dave will want to drag us down the plug hole with it when it goes.

Greg Tingey said...

Very very good, apart form one, unfortunately boringly predicatble mistake:
"For this we must repeal the Human Rights Act" ...
[ Yes, I know you want a new, slightly different Act ..]
Blaming the EUHCR is a very convenient diversion and distraction from the real culprits.
Note that the French (etc) have the same EUHCR, and they do not seem to have the problems that we do.
I would suggest the problem is in our own home-grown, arrogant and bloated bureacracy.
The so-called "Civil Service" gold-plating everything, and attempting to centralise control in their own hands.

Look at the history of section 2 of the Official Secrets Act as an illustration of this.

Edward Spalton said...

The question is "Whose law"?

The English Civil War, the American War of Independence and the American Civil War
were all fought to decide that question. It is a key concept in the Common Law tradition, which does not exist on the mainland EU.

The doctrine of "passive obedience" sounds pretty wimpish and dull but probably saved Britain from further large-scale, domestic carnage. Basically, it was what would now be called "respecting the rule of law" but on a basis we have now lost.
(a) that the government/Crown itself was restrained by the custom of "the ancient constitution".
(b) that Parliament could amend and alter law within that tradition to meet changing conditions.
(c) that people opposed to such changes or wanting more, would obey the letter of the law, in the knowledge that it could eventually be amended again by the same method.

Now that the real law-making power has been outsourced - principally to the EU but to all sorts of other agencies (self-financing regulatory agencies with the power to impose levies (taxes) on those they regulate plus limitless quangos - many of which have themselves become subordinate parts of EU wide bodies), the old dispensation is dead and only a revival of The Good Old Cause will restore it.

I write this with some regret as I am Tory by inclination and this is a distinctly Whiggish view.

So like the good old Vicar of Bray

"When William was our king declared
To heal the nation's grievance,
With this new wind about I steered,
And swore to him allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance.
Passive obedience was a joke
And pish on non-resistance".

Anonymous said...

Aye to that.

Bin the HRA NOW!

measured said...

Tsk. I suspect you are conflating the rule by law with the rule of law. The rule of law is an admirable concept, unless you are part of the Establishment, like, umm, ... an MP for example.

Don't join the bandwagon on human rights. Nothing is above criticism but the Supreme Court wants to justify its role and the PM wants to divert attention away from other aspects of the EU. In other countries (all signed up through the Lisbon Treaty) it makes a real, albeit slow, difference to those persecuted where the rule of law is just a notion rather than a reality. What's the justification of us opting out? Because we don't like it... well, think back to the rule of law.

Civilisation is a veneer. It is far better to uphold some sound principles, away from the politicos, such as the rule of law and unalienable rights of an individual, as this is the araldite that prevents the sliver of of wood from lifting. It is far more effective than a copper sitting on it to keep it down. said...

there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the use of the word Law.

Rule of Law is basically adherence to the basic Christian principles of to live peacefully and go about your lawful business i.e. in your day to day actions live by the rules of do no harm, cause no loss, create no injury to others and their property.

to offend these basic Christian based principles is to ultimately offend God or if your a non believer 'conscience' i.e. knowing the difference between right and wrong.

far too many people use the word Law, Rule of Law etc incorrectly and also misinterpet its application and that includes far too many Police cosntables who swear an oath to uphold the LAW, NOT legislation.

The rules of a society are created by Government, they are called Statutes, or legislation. given that we as freeborn men and women stand only under our creator (God) or Conscience or Pure Law as it is also known (if you do not believe in God) means we stand above Government in the structure of authority. for freeborn men and women created government and no finer document illustrates that principle more clearly than the Declaration of Indepence.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"

The founding fathers of the 13 states knew and understood these basic principles and enshrined them in a written constituion that was rigid and unable to be changed.

we sadly despite being the founding fathers of such an event via our Bill of Rights 1689 are left with a flexible constitution and thus we are where we are today.

however the basic principle of being freemen and women is valid, we stand above governane and can only be subject to the statutes and legislation by consent, for legislation is still man made only having the FORCE OF LAW with our consent, the problem is not enough of us know this and not enough of us are prepared to stand up to petty officialdom.

if just around even million of us less than 2% of the population did and did so every day in the dealings we have with the councils, the government the police and every other policy enforcer of government we would drive the system to a grinding halt.

its that or its violence...for we are rapidly approaching the state where the many with just a littel to lose will have even that taken from them, and if that happens be afraid, be very afraid

Greg Tingey said...

You said:
"Rule of Law is basically adherence to the basic Christian principles of to live peacefully and go about your lawful business i.e. in your day to day actions live by the rules of do no harm, cause no loss, create no injury to others and their property.


So the Romans, and Greeks of Classical times had no law did they?
They were not christians, after all!


Edward Spalton said...

Hello Bingobax,

Whilst agreeing with you basically, I think many thoughtful Americans would give a hollow laugh. The US constitution, whilst still retaining much of its moral force, has been greatly undermined by increases in presidential and federal power and by judicial activism in the Supreme Court which has advanced what the Americans call "liberal" and we would call socialist policies.

This happened principally under the impetus of war, the main one being the Civil War which claimed more American lives than all of America's wars since - including the World wars. In summing up a very impressive TV series on that conflict, the Southern historian, Shelby Foote, said "Before the war, people said the United States ARE. After the war they said the United States IS - and you could say that's what the whole thing was about".
Of course, subsequent federal power grabs with Wilson's "war socialism" in WW1 and FDR's administration in WWII far exceeded Mr. Lincoln's. As in Britain, the supposedly purely wartime expedient of increased government control never went away.

These contradictions, stresses and strains were evident to the Founding Fathers in the early days of the republic in the power struggle between the Federalists (led by Secretary to the Treasury Alexander Hamilton) and the Republicans (different from modern Republicans), led by the Virginians Jefferson and Madison who basically wanted a republic of sturdy yeoman farmers. I have just learned a great deal about this period from "The Elusive Republic - Political Economy in Jeffersonian America" by Drew R McCoy (assistant professor of history at the University of Texas) published by W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-95239-8, first published 1982

For a a view of more modern developments, I recommend Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" (£9.00 or so from Waterstones)

Edward Spalton said...

The American founding fathers were mostly classically educated gentlemen who drew on their knowledge of Greek city states and the Roman republic. Whilst admiring much of the classical world, they were also conscious that every republic or democracy had degenerated into tyranny or foreign subjection. So they did their best to build in safeguards against that.

Incidentally the US constitution did not enforce "separation of Church & State". It simply said "CONGRESS shall make no ordinance concerning the establishment of any religion". Several of the states had their own Churches "by law established". The only one I know anything about is Connecticut's which was on a congregational basis. As in England, the parish was also the basic unit of local government, so the minister and vestry exercised much the same functions as the vicar and churchwardens did in England. The Church Establishment was eventually abolished in the 1830s following petitions from aggrieved Episcopalians and others - but it was the State of Connecticut not the federal authority which did it. said...

Edward many thanks for your references and constructive comments, food for thougth as they say and I will investigate: I am currently reading "The Battle Cry of Freedom The ACW" by James M McPherson highly recommended reading given it goes into some considerable depth of the political economic situation of both North and South for almost 50 eyars prior ot the conflict and of course the aggressive nature of the American expansion at Mexico's expense in the early part of the 19th Century, and lays the groundwork for the latter half and aftermath of the Civil War.

Greg, thank you for your ameoba like intellectual insight into Classical Greek and Roman history, and personally I know I am no idiot, but I've got the intellect and education to recognise them when I meet them. I've met many on my travels both personally and on the internet, and its rather sad to find I've not been disappointed once more! may I suggest you try reading the "Oxford Illustrated Histroy of Roman Britain" which is a marvellous tome of some 500 plus pages of historical and arceholoigical facts concerning Roman history and not just Britain's but the whole Roman empire (including the history of Christianities rise under Roman rule) which anyone with even a smidgeon of basic education and the intellect to retain it would know, that Christianity became the State religion of the empire in its latter period, sanctioned and enforced by Imperial decree, I realise 500 plus pages may be somewhat difficult for an idiot to wade through but there is consolation in the fact it has pictures (the clue is the word illustrated just in case any idiots might read this) sadly not ones that can be coloured in but alas one cannot satisfy every basic needs that idiots have.

Greg Tingey said...

I have a full copy of Gibbon, and I have read it.
I was referring to Rome BEFORE christianity arrived.
As you well know.
Never mind classical Athens or Alexandria