Monday, October 18, 2010

Is there such a thing as law? How about the EU?

James Higham draws our attention to a presentation by "Captain Ranty" in which the latter asserts that any law passed by our rulers has no validity without our specific individual consent.

This position has its attractions for those of us who deny that we ever consented to rule by the EU, but philosophically it has its dangers and I think we'd do better to declare that certain decisions by Parliament are ultra vires, especially the concession of any part of national sovereignty, since this is a form of dilution or abolition of the franchise that legitimises the House of Commons itself.

I attempt a doubtless flawed riposte to the freedom-loving Captain, as follows:

If you're going to take what is I think essentially an existentialist position, then remember that Sartre said (in effect) not only are you free but you cannot choose otherwise than to be free. Canonising Jean Genet means that as far as the laws and taxes are concerned, you merely note the consequences of possible actions and then decide to do whatever you're going to do. Externally you are still ruled, but presumably there is an internal change in that while you accept that some have power over you, you no longer concede them the right. There must be some sense of relief, some conservation of psychic energy in that.

But that position is not a collectivist one, for pace Sartre's aberration during the 1968 riots, otherwise he maintained there is no collective freedom. You say "Soon it will be. Soon there will be a million of us. But long before we get those kind of numbers we will have won." We? Win what? There is no "we" and far from a future victory, freedom is an inescapable initial condition. Existence precedes essence.

I believe Sartre said that you could choose to give up your freedom, but I don't think the logic of his position dictates that we should be bound by a previous decision of a past self, any more than by the diktat of another. "I've changed my mind", you'll smile.

Tiptoeing away from this road to chaos, may I suggest that Americans (which group now includes my brother) might do well to reaffirm the Constitution in all its words and guiding spirit. What wisdom your Founding Fathers had, to set down such a massive and beautifully-carved stone as the basis for the nation; we in Britain are much more vulnerable to top-down plutocratic / neo-aristocratic / bureaucratic corruption and revolution, for here the system merely smiles and tells you it's changed its mind.


Paddington said...

'The rulers only lead with the consent of the governed'

Sackerson said...

And backed up by cybernetic data gathering and analysis, and an increasingly publicly-unaccountable police; hence, no doubt, your parenthesis.

Captain Ranty said...

Thanks for the link, Sackers.

You destroyed my argument beautifully.

But, can I add this:

Several US judges have told people "Don't come into my court waving the Constitution". It transpires that they (people today) were not "party to that contract. It was a compact made between the government of the day to the governed of the day", and Americans arriving on the scene later could not lawfully claim that the Constitution was written for them. It wasn't.

The same must be true here as well. The Bill of Rights, (Claim of Right), the Act of Union in 1707, Magna Carta 1215 and 1297, the Bills of Exchange Act 1882, in fact, every statute prior to my birth in 1962 cannot possibly bind me because I wasn't around to agree or disagree. I wasn't around to consent or to withhold my consent.

If consent can be given freely, it can also be revoked freely.


Sackerson said...

Sounds like those judges need to leave, CR. When you remove the foundation, the house falls down.