The government is an illusion! Eh?

A friend recently sent me this video asking me for my thoughts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYJzXkcJgEU

I wrote the below as a reply, but as I have written so much, I thought it could also be recorded here for others’ comments.

I thought Harris (Lecturer in the video) seemed like a genuinely nice guy who was exercising his freedom of thought & Speech. Good on him!

However, I wasn’t convinced by his argument for many reasons that I list below. But mainly because he didn’t answer the question: ‘what should Society look like? And how would it be run?’ it’s very easy to say what you don’t like about something, but until you have provided an alternative solution, it’s not always very useful.

Harris argues that the Government is a company. But of course it is. A company just means a group of people (although we now understand it meaning a group of people interested in making a profit). The fact that it is a profiting company was obviously against Harris’ expectations, but I knew this already. I suppose it’s because I work in finance, and I’m exposed to it. It’s not a bad thing that the government is a company. The government needs to raise money, from taxes and elsewhere. They do that through many things, with treasury bonds, but also by becoming a ‘public’ (plc) company by selling shares. By selling shares a company is raising revenue, in this case, to support the UK economy. As a result, I don’t really see the problem that Harris is highlighting.

Legislation & Statutory Instruments (SI): I have been taking financial exams over the last few years, and am aquatinted with the terms. Much of the law my company has to abide by is written in SI. I have a friend who is just finishing exams, in law, to become a barrister. I asked him about the difference between legislation and SI, and have recorded the conversation below:

Me: I hope you don’t mind me texting so early. But I have a legal question. Why are Statutory Instruments given the power of Law, but actually only legislation is law? Thanks!

Friend: You can txt me anytime Ruth! Good question. Statutory instruments are effectively amendments. So, rather than rewriting a whole Act of law, a ‘S.I.’ is created. Think of them as postites slapped on an act because the legislators either missed something out, have changed their minds on things or got somethong wrong. Thats why they are given such authority in the law.

Me: Ok cool. Also is there a difference in definition between ‘legal’ and ‘law’?

Friend: Not reeeeally. Just depends how you use the terms.

Me: I’m listening to this guy who believes the government is a conspiracy. (a friend wanted to know what I thought) and he said there was a ‘massive’ difference between the terms . . . . So you would disagree? R

Friend: It depends how u use them essentially. For example a barrister is legal representation, he is not ‘law representation’. The law in England and Wales is enforced in courts. It id not ‘the legal’ that is enforcdd in courts. Its an English language distinction, not a ‘legal or law’ distinction. There is nothing at all sinister to the similarities or differences to these words save an language one, ie what is the speaker trying to say.

Me: Would you say statutory instruments were contacts with the people, as long ad individuals consent?

Friend: Hey, no they are actually law. Consent isn’t applicable as they form part of the law as much as Acts of Parliament do… 🙂

Therefore, I disagree with Harris on this point. All law needs to be able to be amended as new situations arise and new parties are voted into power …. Etc. And instead of changing the actual Act, they make SIs that apply to that law, but which have the same weight and power as the original legislation.

I think Harris has, perhaps, tripped himself up on some if the terms and language of ancient law, which does not mean what he thinks it does. For example, the idea of each of us having a fictional ‘person’ that is created when we are born is surely due to semantics. I have always know this to be the case in a sense (although I never saw it in the sinister way that Harris does) because we are all taxed with our National Insurance number, which magically appears in the post when we are 16! This is because they have a record of everyone from birth. Therefore, this is just a way to effectively administer the millions of people in the UK. I believe in free education and health service – therefore I believe in taxation. In order for us to be taxed we need to have a national insurance number. How is the government going to keep a fair and accurate record of who owes tax? Registration at birth is the most effective way. So again, I don’t see Harris’ issue here.

As I’ve said above, I think it comes down to how you EXPECT government and society to run. It seems Harris was expecting something else, and when he learned how the system worked he assumed it was the result of people who maliciously wished to control us. But I don’t see it that way.

Police ‘officers’ do seem to use a legal language which would be helpful for all us to know. Otherwise you can get pulled up for something that isn’t an offence, potentially, I guess. I agree with this in as far as I do think knowledge of the law will help you greatly when talking with the police. But I’m unsure what distinction there really is between a police ‘man’, and police ‘officer’. What would the police man do differently to the police officer? As Statutory Instruments ARE law, Harris’ police ‘man’ would have to break the law if he were not to uphold them?

‘Legalise’, Harris tells us, is a legal language not commonly understood by the laity He also says that words don’t change their meaning, but history tells us that they do. I think that even ‘legalise’ cannot sidestep the inevitable evolution of language. So in this respect, I don’t see the changes as intentionally malicious or misleading by the government.

When he talks about birth certificates and goes crazy about the language used, he is not consistent. Above he says that ‘legalise’ uses words differently. But when discussing the birth certificate he implies that the government literally mean ‘informant’ when this is clearly an old way of saying ‘applicant’.

I find it a little distasteful that he calls social workers to task for taking children away from their parents, implying the do it for money rather than for the child’s good. I have many friends who are social workers, and I don’t believe that they are blasé about it. They often do not do it for money, but for the benefit of those they serve. I find this type of ‘simple’ black and white thinking he upholds rather too simplified and unhelpful when applied to every emotive and controversial subjects such as this.

Anyway, enough of me bagging on about my dislikes! I did think he was a genuine guy though, and he has a right to believe what he wants. I also think his insistence on peaceful protest very good, and that, at least, I can fully support 😉

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  1. #1 by Daniel on May 18, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    .Ok I’ll admit I haven’t actually watched the video, but I am fairly familiar with the idea of lawful rebellion and freeman on the land which from your commentary Harris clearly subscribes to. My personal position on it is general bemusement, I don’t have enough knowledge to know how valid a position it is. I am though for various political reasons very pleased that it is getting more attention, a point I can elaborate on if you wish.

    I will try to answer your points as well as I can, from the position of a fairly neutral observer, but one who may be approaching the idea from a somewhat different direction.

    Your first point is one which many feel is relevant. You say ‘what should society look like’. To answer that as a libertarian, or the term I prefer clasical liberal is that I don’t know what society should look like. I know how I would like society to be but I also know that other people have different visions. It would be the height of arrogance for me to use force (and all government action is force) to impose my view on other people. Society should look like whatever free people create, it should not be something imposed on us as individuals from above at the point of a gun. Thatchers statement http://briandeer.com/social/thatcher-society.htm seems to be spot on. The only point I make here is that society should exist to prevent force being used on the peaceful, what the peaceful do with their freedom is up to them.

    With regard to SI, a statute is debated in parliament by both houses and then signed by the queen, it has gone through due process to become law. It then gets changed or adapted through the courts to fit society. The process of Common Law. An SI has no due process, regardless of their legality they are a quite horrific example of the abuse of law. Ethically no unelected and more importantly unaccountable person or body should be able to impose force on another, this is what a SI does. I think the point made by those in so called lawful rebellion makes with regard to SI is that if the government of the day, or the on-going civil service can make law (SI) with so little regard to ancient custom and due process then the contract between State and Subject set out in the ancient treaties and customs of Britain break down. The question of why we as individuals should obey the law is raised, with SI the only answer that appears to me is because the state has the bigger stick.

    Your point ‘Therefore, I disagree with Harris on this point. All law needs to be able to be amended as new situations arise and new parties are voted into power …. Etc. And instead of changing the actual Act, they make SIs that apply to that law, but which have the same weight and power as the original legislation’ is wrong I think. Passing a statute to create an act, through due process gives it legitimacy, a SI is simply ‘This is what I want to do’ It is an enabling act which removes any concept of law and allows tyranny.

    The later point you talk about, the creation of a fictional person I haven’t fully understood and find a very difficult concept to get around.

    With regard to legal language, one of the most important points of law is the establishment of meanings, many of the sub clauses in a statute define what the words mean, so the meanings in at least the particular case is fixed. I believe that much of Common Law is based on understanding exactly what was intended in original meanings. To assume that a law can be bent to mean pretty much anything if you just twist the language is once again dangerous and removes certainty, it allows corruption and totally destroys the concept of ‘rule of law’. There is a lot of debate in America over the Constitution and the idea of a living constitution which is worth reading.

    Your last point, of social workers is another interesting one. I believe that many people become social workers because they deeply care, I have to say I also believe that many become social workers because they love the idea of power over other people. The family courts in this country are a total mess and because they are secret are a den of corruption, read some of the articles by Christopher Booker in the Daily Telegraph, if only 10% of what he says is true it is truly damming. Social work is afflicted by many problems, one is group think, social workers are surrounded by the idea of child abuse, they assume; are trained to assume it may be taking place in all circumstances, it does not surprise me that in many cases they see it when it is not actually there, with secret courts there is no real brake on their fantasies. The second is some of the modern ideas of abuse such as emotional abuse are too general, I know someone who can no longer work because they were convicted of emotional child abuse, the crime, the child in her mid teens only had a chest of drawers in her room, not a wardrobe as well. The child didn’t want a wardrobe. Social workers also suffer from public choice theory, a social worker is going to find it easier to bully a well behaved middle class family than actual chav scum who might fight back outside of the fixed secret courts, so who will the go after, especially with tools such as the ephemeral emotional abuse.

    Your last point ‘I also think his insistence on peaceful protest very good, and that, at least, I can fully support’. Assuming Harris is right on some points of law, and assuming that my un proof read spiel above is in vaguely the right direction on the analysis at what point does it become our duty under Common Law and perhaps under God to actively resist. Perhaps the most shocking and sobering lesson to learn from the last century is that when governments break their social contract with the people and start to use arbitrary force, as we are seeing in this country today is that the people react too late. Even if Harris is a nutteris he worth listening to just in case?

    My first thoughts anyway

  2. #2 by Elijah Locke on May 20, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    That was a great post daniel. its taken me ages to reply to this post but i feel nothing left to add really.

    Look up Roger Hayes youtube video ‘the courts are scared of us Lawful Bank’ its the most up to day pioneering of lawful rebellion that i’ve seen. Very interesting indeed!

  3. #3 by Kent Bengtsson on May 20, 2012 - 5:10 pm

    Just wanted to make a few comments. Did not read all the above but have watched John Harrison.

    Any society is a fiction in the sense that it is the product of the minds of men. (Men, man – a member of mankind, no matter what sex or race) The problem with this one is that it is being forced upon us. There is consent (did anyone hold a gun to your head and say “Sign that document!” No. We signed our lives away as obedient little sheep that we have been raised to be)

    When we join the voters roll, we agree to be governed by the current system. When we pay a tax or send in our tax return, we agree to be tax payers. When we do not express our disagreement, we are deeemed to agree. There is no real Involuntary Servitude (slavery) practiced today, but plenty of Voluntary Servitude. In my opinion any demand, that comes your way is an “offer to do business”. We can accept offers, we can make a counter offer, we can refuse or stay silent. How you fare depends on what route you take.

    Here are some parts of an Affidavit I wrote once in relation to income tax, that hopefully sheds some light on what I am trying to say, or at least explains my ‘come from’.

    “1. I believe that all men (men/man = members of mankind, no matter what sex, race or age) are endowed with equal Natural or God given rights that are beyond the jurisdiction of any Government, Corporation, Association or similar construct created by man, whether created by agreement or force. Examples of such rights (but not an exhaustive list) are the following:
    a. The right to govern oneself in a responsible manner, without causing harm or injury to
    his fellow man.
    b. The right to exchange ones labour, creations and possessions with other men or groups of men, for any consideration agreed between the parties, with no obligation to share the fruits of such labour, creations or transactions with any third party, who is not party to the contract.
    c. The right to reject any governance offered or forced upon man, as long as one does no harm to his fellow man and lives in peace with his surroundings.
    d. The right to full control of ones own body and to feed it and heal it using whatever methods or substances one deems beneficial to it. But also the right to abuse it or terminate it, if that is ones conscious and deliberate choice. No other man or organisation have a say in how someone handles his/her own body, provided the person is of mature age and sound mind.
    e. The right to help and assist ones fellow man in any way agreed between the parties or when his life is at peril. Included but not limited to the relief or cure of disease, trauma or mental anguish, by whatever means are acceptable to those involved or known or believed to be effective.
    d. The rights outlined in the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with some reservations for wording that appears to put those rights under any worldly man made organization, such as a Government or the United Nations.

    2. It is my understanding that Government and Corporations are in essence words on paper, created by one or more men. As being the products of the minds of men, Government is fictitious in nature and is not a part of the tangible universe.

    3. It is my understanding that a Government, being in essence a fiction of our imagination, lacks any authority to deal directly with Man or the tangible Universe. Therefore it’s laws are only effective in the realm of fictions (as opposed to Natural Law and contracts between men), and that in order to attempt to control or interact with real men and the tangible Universe it has created “shadow entities” such as “persons” and “titles”, representing the tangible in the realm of fiction.

    It is my understanding from the above rights that Involuntary Servitude (slavery) is not practised any more on this land and that thus no man can be the subject of another, without his consent, and that consent given can be withdrawn at any time. Anything less would in fact amount to true Involuntary Servitude.

    It is my belief that the name: Mr. John Doe, JOHN DOE, MR. J. DOE, and any other variations thereof when used in the Public (fictitious) Arena, no matter how spelled or capitalized, refers to a created fictitious entity/person, and not me, but is a mere fiction representing me – just like a token in the game of monopoly represents the real man/player who exists outside the game, and who is free to walk away from the game at any time he does not want to play any more.

    I further believe that terms such as “tax payer”, “resident”, “citizen”, “driver”, “keeper”, “tenant” “licensee” and other terms that appear to refer to the people of the land, in Government publications or Acts of Parliament, are all referring to the fictitious person (token), not the real live sentient man of the tangible universe.

    I believe that the Government and other entities operating in the fictitious realm have deliberately acted to make the real men of the tangible universe believe that they are in fact the fictitious “person” and that as such subject to the myriads of statutes and rules within that fictitious society. This appear to be a misrepresentation (fraud).

    I believe that any representation, law or contract based on fraud is null and void.

    I believe that the Creator is always senior to the Created. As man created Government and it’s “laws”, man is always the senior entity and cannot be ruled by the Creation, except by consent. Thus no man made laws applies to a living breathing sentient man, if he does not consent to it. This does not mean that his fellow men cannot take action against him if he causes harm to other men or their property in the realm of the tangible.

    In light of the above, it is my understanding that HM Revenue & Customs can only request payments from the fictitious “person” for “profits” earned or transactions conducted in the fictitious public arena, and not from the fruits of the labour, ideas and trading between real living men.

    Thus I also believe that the “person” is some kind of dead corporate entity with no soul, no will, no ability to think act or communicate, and it can only perform those tasks trough a real man acting in its capacity.

    I believe the “person” Mr. JOHN DOE (and all name-variations thereof) was created for my and others benefit and that I am authorized to use it to interact with other fictitious entities in the realm of public fiction. But just because I can do this, does not mean I am at all times acting in that capacity. Whether I am acting in that capacity or not is for me to decide. If I do not act in that capacity at a given time, the rules and statutes that applies to it, do not apply to me.

    I believe that the “person” Mr. JOHN DOE (and all name-variations thereof) was either transferred to the United Kingdom (fiction) from Sweden (fiction) or created anew upon me moving to this physical land, by the act of me filling out and signing Government forms. Thus I am the Settlor and main beneficiary of “Mr. JOHN DOE” and the UK Government is the Trustee for said entity. I believe it is the trustees duty to manage the affairs of a trust in accordance with the will of the Settlor for the benefit of the Beneficiary/ies.

    It is my understanding that I am the sentient spirit using a living breathing human body as a means of interacting with others of my kind in this realm of the tangible universe. I believe I was not created by the Government of this or any other nation, and thus not subject to it’s presumed authority and rule, unless I choose to be.”

    I have asked many a public servant to disprove these beliefs, and so far no one have volunteered to do so. They just repeat their mantras they have been given, as obedient puppets and carefully avoid stepping inte the realm of facts, ethics and morality.

    We should not try to prove anything. If someone says he or what he represents has authority over us, let him provide the irrefutable material evidence of that authority.

    Do I want to abolish Government? No. The vast majority of people on this land needs to be watched, cared for and controlled – because they will not be responsible for their lives and govern themselves. But I believe the Government and the small elite that controls most governments have actively created that situation and culture, in order to keep their grasp on power.

    I want government by consent, where the good of the people and the other life forms we share this planet with, is the main focus. The details of this could be the subject of a book, but with modern technology and all lthe suppressed technology, we could have an almost utopian society.

    If Man is the pinnacle of Natures creation (aside from any God or Nature itself) is it not time we rose to that position and responsibility and became a force of good in this world, rather than the vermin we often seems to be?

    KentB

  4. #4 by Edward Rhodes on March 5, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    I too will begin with the disclaimer that I have not actually watched the video and so cannot comment directly on the arguments made in it.

    Having said that, I am sympathetic to the point that (by means of Statutory Instruments) Parliament can vest much of its legislative authority into the hands of the executive and thus potentially by-pass the need for scrutiny in the interests of efficiency (one of the cardinal virtues of the modern world). Of course, since Parliament gives the executive the power to make SIs, Parliament can also take that power away, or, at least, it could do if it weren’t itself so subservient to the executive, and perhaps it is this, rather than the use of SIs per se, that it is the real cause for concern.

    In the interests of fuller disclosure, I do confess to being a Distribut(iv)ist, and as such, to being somewhat doubtful as to whether a minarchistic/libertarian government (i.e. a government based on the minimal use of compulsion) could long be able to retain justice (which is, according to Augustine, all that separates governments from bands of robbers) in a society in which the ownership of productive property (and thus economic power) is concentrated in the hands of the few rather than the many. In my view a society in which productive property is widely owned or co-owned, (especially one in which other support structures e.g. families, communities and voluntary institutions etc. are strong) is likely to present less need (and fewer incentives or excuses) for unnecessary (or unjust) interference by central government or other remote corporations.

    With regard to the final point in the post itself, I too prefer peaceful protest to violence, although I am not, strictly speaking, a pacifist, since I believe that proportionate force can legitimately be used in self-defence, when all else fails.

    Apologies for my long and tortuous sentence structure (and frequent parantheses) as well as for ranting.

    Edward

    • #5 by Daniel on March 5, 2013 - 5:05 pm

      Parliament can of course take the power away, parliament is sovereign, the problem with the SI is that it has the force of law and can be passed without proper scrutiny, it thus acts against the rule of law and without the rule of law there is no justice because there is no law.

      Just a point with regards to your disclosure, you need to think how you define justice, if you can arbitrarily take from one to give to another just because the former has more this is not justice, in fact this is the hall mark of a robber. If need gives you a right to the product of another and the ‘law’ gives you the power to take it without consent then that person becomes to all intents and purposes your slave: You consume without earning it the product of another’s labour, they get to work without being awarded the product of their labour. Forced redistribution is slavery and to describe this as justice is to take all meaning away from the word.

      The important point in the anarchocapitalist/minarchist/libertarian ideology is that by ensuring power is kept as far as possible within the control of the individual you prevent the concentration of power that allows the injustice of exploitation. Once you allow for redistribution of wealth earned by others you concentrate power in the hands of a few, the few who get to decide who gets what.

      Most large corporations only exist with government support, most legislation introducing regulation on business is supported by large corporations because it makes it harder for small businesses or individuals to enter the market (look up barriers to entry), the most effective way to spread ownership of production is to remove the legislative advantage that large corporations have (to a large part through SIs) and allow the small legal room to compete.

      With regards your final point, peaceful protest against exploitation is always the first step, violence should never be initiated, but the awareness should always exist that should the exploiting party initiate violence then their aggressive violence will be met by protective violence. Preserving the means to do this is essential for a free society which is why elements in law like the 2nd Amendment in the US is so important

  5. #6 by Edward Rhodes on April 3, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    I agree with most of the comment above (Daniel, 5th March 2013), I agree that Statutory Instruments enable legislation without proper scrutiny and therefore undermine the rule of law (my earlier comment was, perhaps, too mild on this point since I do believe in the rule of law, although I still think that the effective subservience of Parliament to the executive is a large part of the problem here). I agree that large corporations generally only exist due to government support (as the Distributist writer John Médaille, following the work of the Mutualist, Kevin Carson, also argues), I agree with the legitimacy of protective (or self-defensive) force, as a measure of last resort, and, perhaps more surprisingly, I also agree with the basic injustice of the forcible re-distribution of property, although I would not go as far as to argue that taxation per se is theft or that there is never any justification for the proportionate use of force by public authority (I am not assuming that the previous commenter is arguing this).

    Perhaps, my only significant point of disagreement is that anything in my comment of 5th March was arguing in favour of forcible redistribution of wealth by the few. I may have confessed to being a Distributist but not to being a Redistributist, To clarify (and I appreciate that the name is a bad one, although there is no widespread agreement as to a suitable alternative) all Distributists believe in the widespread ownership of productive property as an aim but are divided among themselves as to how this aim should best be achieved. G. K. Chesterton (a founding Distributist and fairly representative of the early movement) argued in “The Outline of Sanity” (1926) that the forced re-distribution of property, which may appear on the surface to be the best means of establishing widespread property, in fact undermines the very concept of property itself (he compares this policy to someone trying to oppose iconoclasm by using the holy images as a bludgeon with which to hit the iconoclasts over the head!). The problem with modern free-market capitalism (assuming, for the sake of argument, that such a thing actually exists) from the perspective of a Distributist, is not that there are too many capitalists, but that there are too few.

    The few modern Distributists (and their fellow-travellers) I’ve read (especially Médaille) also tend to advocate removing barriers to entry and other state protections of corporate wealth, as well as moving the burden of taxation away from taxes on work (e.g. income tax and National Insurance) towards taxes on external costs and, especially, towards economic rent (as per Henry George and the Geolibertarians). Modern Distributism tends to be very supportive of co-operation and mutuality, which is the tradition in which I was raised.

    The point that I was trying to make in my previous comment (not very well, it would seem) is that a society with strong family life, strong communities and voluntary associations and widely-owned productive property is the nearest thing in this fallen world to a society in which the needs of those in want can be legitimately addressed (I am a Christian and believe that addressing people’s needs is a legitimate function of civil society), without providing incentives or justifications for large-scale intervention in people’s lives by remote (and therefore unaccountable) central government, and that, if a stable minarchist regime is desired, then this sort of society is the most suitable (returning to the earlier point about what, if anything, society “should” look like).

    Once again, apologies for my writing style. I hope that this comment clarifies more than it confuses.

    Yours

    Edward

    NOTE:
    I would recommend John Médaille’s recent book, “Towards a Truly Free Market” (2010) (ISBN: 1-935191-81-0) as a good introduction to modern Distributist political economy, as well as Race Matthew’s “Jobs of Our Own” (1999) (ISBN: 1871204178) which is a good “warts and all” history of the movement.

  6. #7 by continue on May 10, 2013 - 5:27 am

    Greetings from Florida! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m
    not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very good blog!

    • #8 by Emmaus At Twilight on May 11, 2013 - 10:06 am

      Thank you! This conversation about the government is very interesting. I’ve also just posted another article about Religious Fundamentalism.

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