This is a guest post by Charlie O’Neill. It was originally published in The Light Paper UK
Like many others who got involved in the wider anti-lockdown movement, I was at first perplexed by what seemed to be the mysterious spread of certain ideas concerning non-payment of taxes; reclaiming our ‘true’ identity and extricating ourselves from State power, all of which were presented under the label of ‘Common Law’.
At first I didn’t quite know what to make of this approach – the claims being made were so complex and so wide-ranging – encompassing various old pieces of legislation, many different types of law (Maritime, Equity, Common Law etc.) History, Linguistics and even Esoterics – that it was hard to come to a conclusion on any single aspect of it, let alone evaluate the phenomenon as a whole.
I have since come to my own personal conclusions concerning the validity of many of the specific claims made – a summary of which can be found HERE for those who are interested.
However, the more that I investigated the, so-called, ‘Common Law’ approach, the more that I came to realise that none of the specific claims which its adherents make really matter, even if some of them are actually true.
This is because the foundation on which the entire approach actually rests is not a matter of historical or legal record but instead a kind of metaphysical belief about how the universe itself functions.
As most of the ‘Common Law’ proponents seem to believe in a range of slightly – and sometimes widely – varying things, I want to quickly provide the most general possible formulation of their overall beliefs in order to demonstrate how they all hinge upon this key metaphysical doctrine concerning the importance of ‘contracts’.
- The system of supposed ‘Laws’ we all abide by is in fact largely a counterfeit designed to gain our ‘consent’ to be governed.
- There is a true system of Law which the ruling elite have kept concealed from us in order to be able to gain unfair advantage over us.
- In effect, we unknowingly enter into various sorts of ‘contract’ with the ruling powers which allow them to violate our inherent rights due to having first deceptively gained our ‘consent’ to do so in various ways (i.e our births being registered, replying to official communications etc.)
- If we know about the different systems of Law and the importance of Contract then they, effectively, no longer have any power over us and we can not only avoid various kinds of illegitimate demands and taxations imposed upon us by the elite, but can begin to make demands upon them ourselves, demands which they must obey – if we formulate them correctly at least.
(note: This viewpoint is subtly different from the viewpoint of those who advocate for our historical tradition of Common Law – who would probably say something along the lines of: we have an ancient tradition of Common Law that was upheld and protected by social consent and, when necessary, the threat of arms not mystical contracts or the goodwill of the elite – a tradition which the elite have gradually eroded and concealed from us in order to replace it with their own top-down system of management and control.)
However I believe that this model can easily be disproved by the application of basic logic…
If it was indeed true that the elite must first trick and confuse those they rule over in order to abuse them in various ways – and this seems to be the basis of all the various ‘Common Law’ theories – then how do its adherents explain the many occasions on which our government and others have resorted to the use of extreme force and other forms of violation against individuals who had clearly not ‘consented’ to be so treated in any way whatsoever?
How did the children and adult civilians in various foreign countries ‘we’ have invaded or caused to be invaded ‘contract’ with anybody in order to ‘agree’ to be blown apart by laser-guided missiles, or starved to death as a result of trade embargoes (and if they didn’t, then how did this occur – were the politicians not worried about karmically ‘breaking the rules’ by engaging in this entirely non-contractual behaviour? If so then why did they do it anyway? If not, then why would they care about doing it to us now?)
Furthermore, how do political dissidents like Julian Assange and other opponents of the powerful find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned without even the semblance of due procedure or any form of ‘consent’. How did the elite get the victims to ‘consent’ in any meaningful way to the various forms of abuse uncovered in such atrocities as the Dutroux Affair in Belgium and the recent Epstein scandal in the US?
Ask yourself: if the elite could engage in these acts without any consequence, or any apparent fear about ‘breaking the rules’ of reality, then what is stopping them from doing the same to us now, without the need for engaging in any complex legal trickery or wordplay whatsoever?
Why does any of this matter anyway?
It matters because we all at least claim to be fighting to uphold our freedoms and future possibilities against a criminal elite that has given itself the ‘right’ to dispose of them. In this struggle, having a faulty, naive or just plain nonsensical model of political and legal reality renders the task at best a futile waste of time and, at worst, a dangerous distraction that plays into the very hands of the very authorities it claims to oppose.
In addition, to stand against the system with a false sense of confidence, using incorrect information, can easily lead to people unnecessarily putting themselves directly in the crosshairs of the authorities – a situation which can, ironically, end up giving the system much more leverage and thus power over them than it had to begin with!
Although it may be psychologically comforting to convince ourselves that the injustice of the world and the tyranny of the powerful is merely illusory or something that can easily be ‘contracted’ out of, the history of recent times shows that the state’s power is indeed very real and that it obeys no laws whatsoever when it feels itself to be threatened in any way or when its ill-gotten wealth or power are put at risk (see two World Wars, the Communist Gulags, State Sponsored Terrorism etc.)
Not only does this approach waste people’s limited time and energy but it also subtly misdirects them from properly engaging with the reality of the system itself – a reality in which the law is little more than something that can be adopted as a mere convenience to more smoothly govern society and which is immediately discarded whenever it threatens to actually benefit the ‘non-elite’ in any meaningful way. Instead, ‘Common Law’ leads its followers down a range of esoteric rabbit holes which render them, effectively, useless as far as intelligently opposing the system and its various abuses goes.
As pointed out in William Keyte’s article in issue 31 of this paper (‘finding common ground in the constitution’) this approach also, perhaps conveniently, steers people from engaging with the actually existing tradition of Common Law in this country, a tradition which is very much under attack and which might, arguably, constitute a useful point to rally and organise around.
For those who do believe in some variety of ‘Common Law’ solution to the situation we all find ourselves in, I would be keen to hear how they feel that my overall summary of their position is incorrect and how they would explain the above logical fallacies which, to my mind at least, their
beliefs seem to imply.
If you’d like to read more about Charlie’s perspective on Common Law, check out these other articles:
The Common Law Cult Part one
The Common Law Cult Part two