January 2020 – What an interesting idea: that we sometimes, maybe often, create our own problems. That’s a novel thought in a world which seems always ready to blame someone else, don’t you think?
It seems to me, too, that we can create problems even by not doing something. How can that be? It doesn’t make sense. Well, sit you comfortably . . . I wanna tell you a story (as Max Bygraves used to say).
ONCE UPON A TIME, long ago, the natural social group consisted of father, mother and children. Today we refer to them as the ‘nuclear’ family but the word ‘nuclear’ had no meaning long ago. Quite soon the nuclear family developed with grand-parents and grand-children and cousins. Out of those grew other nuclear families and it was the natural order of things for a while.
There must have come a time when the father of the group was too busy hunting and gathering food and shelter for his family to be able to take time out to make essential new tools and weapons, or pots and pans to put the food in. That’s probably when someone else from a different nuclear family would have said: “Tell you what. I’ll make spears and pots and pans for you if you will give me some of your food in exchange.” The fathers and mothers consented and so barter was born, the original socialist trading idea before capitalist money was invented. And all seemed well for a time.
Then the father and mother of a nuclear family learned that some families who weren’t actively hunting and gathering had learned to read and write (mostly Latin, it seemed), and they decided that they and their children should learn to read and write, too. Magically, another group of people (often church men), said: “Let me teach you and your children.” So the parents consented and gave up much of their power to train and influence their own children. The new persons taught them and their children Latin, which nobody other than church leaders spoke or wrote, and taught anything else that seemed to them like a good idea.
After a while the confused father and mother looked again for someone to explain to them why they had become so confused. Some other people, who could also read and write, offered to explain and set rules for social interaction. There were a lot of these people and many were called ‘Ian’. Sadly, they also suffered with ‘ticks’. According to this article there are over 800 species of ticks throughout the world, but only two families of ticks, Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks), are known to transmit diseases or illness to humans. Hard ticks have a scutum, or hard plate, on their back while soft ticks do not.
These Ians became known as ‘poly’ or ‘pollies’, from Latin poliō (“polish, smooth”) or, perhaps, from Ancient Greek πολύς (polús, “many, much”). Eventually the word ‘poli-tick-Ian’ came into common use to describe all of them.
The parents again consented to poli-tick-Ians taking the job of explaining and setting rules for social interaction. Some people loved them, some hated them, but too many blindly trusted them and didn’t realise that, in reality, they were parasites who were stealing the product of their labours (allegedly on behalf of the king). They made such plundering seem routine and normal and, later, called it ‘tax’. They stole the freedoms of the people but didn’t give very much back in return. In some countries they became known as ‘scribes and pharisees’, which implicitly raised them up and tried to pull them down all at the same time. It separated them from family.
The scribes and Pharisees liked to make rules for everyone else. It seemed to be more profitable for them and less laborious than making tools and farming. So, when the working fathers found themselves in dispute with one another and needed to put their arguments before other working fathers to determine who was right and who was wrong, some scribes and Pharisees said: “Let me be the judge of that.”
Again, it seemed a good idea at the time and the parents gave their consent. But soon the working fathers found that their powers to manage their own lives and train their own children had been reduced to that of obedient servants . . . . obedient to the plunderers and scribes and Pharisees who could read and write and the judges who interpreted the rights and wrongs of complaints rather than allow the common jury of their peers to decide as they had always done. The people were no longer free to determine how they lived. There was great wailing and gnashing of teeth at the loss of their essential freedom. The poli-tick-Ians said it was ‘democracy’ but poli-tick-Ians are known to say anything they think will keep them in their job.
Soon, barter became unfit for purpose and another medium of payment or exchange was needed. Scarce gold and silver came to their aid and values of exchange – labour or goods in return for a measure of gold or silver – became the norm. Opportunists saw a new opportunity for personal benefit without having to be a farmer or a blacksmith. They offered to store the working man’s gold and silver safely and cheaply in a ‘bank’, and even began lending some of it to others in return for payment, which held their interest enormously. The parents consented and their new ‘servants’ became known as ‘bankers’, and other names.
The idea of providing a service rather than goods in exchange for reward wasn’t new, of course. The oldest ‘profession’ in the world is based on that concept. But the combination of all these new service providers allowed them to grow in stature from being ‘servants’ to being masters in their society. They made so many social decisions and kept to a minimum the decisions open to labourers to make for themselves. These changes created more confusion; they attacked the very existence of the nuclear family as a result of debt and endless new laws for the labourer either to comply with or to break, which made them law-breakers. They said the laws applied equally to everybody, but they didn’t.
During this time many other services were offered (or imposed) on the producers of wealth. Some people were hired and swore an oath to uphold and ensure the peace and tranquility of the community and were known as ‘policymen’. Again, they did their work only with the consent of the people. Over time there were many similar social service developments until, eventually, the ordinary man looked about him and wondered if he had done the right thing in giving his consent to strangers as often as he had? Of course, he hadn’t done the right thing.
So ordinary men began to listen to the words of John Smith and Kenn d’Oudney and others, who told them of their right to common law which tested all disputes in front of a random 12-person jury. The jury is also empowered to test the validity of the laws handed to them by their poli-tick-ians, they said, and can nullify unfair/unjust laws. The judges and poli-tick-ians were horrified at this challenge to their dominance and even claimed that parliament is supremely sovereign. What Silly Billies. They couldn’t and cannot see that they are allowed to do what they do solely because the ordinary parents consented.
The situation can be changed when those ordinary parents realise (begin to think differently) that change will follow when we change and lawfully withhold or withdraw our consent. That is where the change begins. Anything else leaves us living under tyranny and we are not free men at all.