A blupete Essay

Notes, to blupete's Essay
"The Law"

[1] John Marshall Gest, "The Law and Lawyers of Honoré de Balzac," The Lawyers in Literature (Boston: The Boston Book Co., 1913) at pp. 115,200,232.
[2] "Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through." (Swift, 1709.)
[3] It was Montesquieu, a person with whom we shall deal herein, who said, "The spread of civilization and sweet manners to the barbarians came about as a result of commerce."
[4] From Frederic R. White's introduction to his work, Famous Utopias of the Renaissance (Chicago: Packard, 1946) at pp. x-xi.
[5] I mark the words the state could be a rational instrument "in bringing peace" to society. For those unacquainted with the history of the last two hundred years, all the scientific observations are that man is best left, under appropriate criminal law, to govern himself. As Sir Karl Popper did, we might liken "social science" to "midwifery": it is the mother not the midwife who is obliged to go through the untidy and the painful business of delivering her baby. An important additional point that is to be made, by the way, is, that, not only can a state not be run by a controlling mind, but the controlling mechanisms, as the Roman statesman, Cicero, pointed out, cannot even be set by one controlling mind (much less by a committee): a lasting state can only evolve through the passing of several generations, viz., it comes into being only after the passage of a considerable period of time. "Our state, ..." as Cicero wrote fifty years before the birth of Christ, "Our state, on the contrary, is not due to the personal creation of one man, but of very many; it has not been founded during the lifetime of any particular individual, but through a series of centuries and generations. There never was in the world a man so clever as to foresee everything and that even if we could concentrate all brains into the head of one man, it would be impossible for him to provide for everything at one time without having the experience that comes from practice through a long period of history." [As quoted by Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 3rd Ed., 1991.) at p. 88.]
[6] "My designe being not to shew what is Law here, and there, but what is Law." (Hobbes, Leviathan (1651) ii. xxvi. 137.)
[7] As Jonathan Swift wrote in 1724, "In all free nations I take the proper definition of law to be, The will of the majority of those who have the property in land."
[8] It is my view, that politicians, in large part, are demagogues whose sole aim in life, is, to get and keep political power; and, do so, by catering to the squawkers in society who are out to gratify themselves at the expense of the whole. "A plausible, insignificant word, in the mouth of an expert demagogue, is a dangerous and a dreadful weapon." (Robert South, 1634-1716, a stout Royalist.) "... oft the cheated crowd adore The thriving knaves that keep them poor." (Gay: Fables.)
[9] Two Treatises of Government.
[10] A Lysander Spooner Reader (San Francisco: Fox & Wilkes, 1992) at p. 17.
[11] Dr. Johnson.
[12] The Principles of Morals and Legislation; it was with this work that Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) made the "scientific attempt to assess the moral content of human action by focusing on its results or consequences."
[13] Common law, a concept with which I deal, to a fuller extent, elsewhere. The common law is an immeasurable set of laws; or rather, as Bagehot expressed it, "they are declarations of immemorial custom, not precepts of new duties." Common law is what Englishmen have relied upon for hundreds of years, and led them, for a period of time, to be the masters of the world. It still exists in countries which can point to a British heritage such as that of Canada and of the United States; but, the common law, unfortunately, is in tatters on account of men's legislative and meddlesome ways.
[14] This is unlike the theories of Plato and Aristotle. Plato and Aristotle taught that governments came about because there exists a social instinct in man to gather together under powerful councils, i. e., it was natural for man to put himself under government.
[15] Man is collectivist: intensively so at the family level; less so at the tribe level; however, hardly at all, at larger levels.

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Peter Landry

2011 (2019)