Whenever I lecture in America on my style of libertarianism I come under pressure from student fundamentalists who feel a traditional libertarian is the ultimate oxymoron. I argue again here today that tradition,especially legal tradition in England, has its roots firmly planted in libertarianism. Historically English. Law has been specifically to protect the individual from the despot, be he emperor, king or political gangster. The law used to be ,in the main, the friend of the free man. Indeed since Anglo Saxon times government by consent has been a guiding force. Yes of course there have been periods of exception, the common law of Alfred the Great was worn away by King John brought to book by Magna Carta , the divine rule of Charles 1 by civil war, the end of the Stuart reign by the much disregarded 1688 Bill of Rights. But the law is the traditional shield, it is a relatively recent development that law has become a weapon of the state to intimidate the citizen or subject.the England of Sir Edward Coke( an Englishman’s home is his castle) and judicial obita dictum three hundred years later that law or natural justice if you prefer should be what the man on the Clapham omnibus deems to be fair( Joe Sixpack to my American friends) . How can we have strayed so far? In England now any local council Jack in Office can break into your house, the European Court of Human Rights regularly makes a mockery of the man on that omnibus, no one in England, or indeed the Anglosphere now believes any of this. Indeed they are right not to do so. Those shady politicians and their sinister brethren at Lancaster House have given Corpus Juris domain over our traditional system. The European arrest warrant disposes of the tradition of the extradition order executed legally where a prime facie case can be made . Habeas corpus has no place in the Napoleonic code ,how convenient for the all powerful state with its predeliction for plea bargaining. We are now at the mercy of the enabling acts, a coach and horses through the principles of English law, no appeals procedure worthy of the name,just judicial review linked with arbitrary and subjective judgment often by those least qualified to do so, moreover usually in secret. How do governments steal our birthright in this way? It starts with dumbing down the education system,if our children are not taught the fundamental principles of English law how much easier to steal it from them. We now have a whole political class wholly ignorant of our legal tradition and how and why it came about. Men have died to preserve these traditions that shield us from the tyranny of the state. How can it be that the United Kingdom has a prime minister who disgraces himself and embarrasses the nation on American television by admitting he knows nothing of Magna Carta and it’s importance to the English speaking world. Eton and Oxford ,if I was his father I would want my money back, reading his vapourings on climate change it is not as though he has the excuse of having read science.
There are of course many other areas of tradition which enhance the freedom of the individual in education at our best schools the tradition of excellence, world class universities and schools heavily steeped in meritocracy history again guides us,over 400 years ago a butcher’s son,Thomas Wolsey could guide a king, a prime minister rose from the Welsh valleys,the chief of the Imperial General Staff ‘Wullie’ Robertson was promoted from the ranks in one of the most class conscious periods in English history. Yet here again the abandonment of tradition raises its evil head, meritocracy has been abandoned by social engineering. The grammar school has been abandoned, all party political leaders now hale from expensive private eduction, so called positive discrimination stifles meritocracy in business, the military ,police, government appointments, even television appearances insist on selection by colour , age and gender. This a complete state abrogation of responsibility by those who claim to govern for every one by consent in the thousand year old Saxon tradition. Perhaps the most important and successful tradition the world has ever known is the family. It transcends nations, class, it came with the birth of mankind, every religion on the planet recognises it, yet it has been under remorseless attack by the state in the Anglosphere for three generations. The weapon is welfarism . Designed purposefully to cripple the institution, it pays people to breed out of wedlock with no concept of responsibility, actively disadvantages those who uphold the tradition regardless of background with a demoralising and destabilising tax system . Pour onto these troubled waters no blame, one stop shop divorce, sit back and watch a bewildered society fall even further into state dependency, the sinister object of the whole excercise. Tradition is the enemy of the state, not libertarianism for which it is the champion.