Monday, 26 September 2022

The father of constitutional monarchy

Just as the United States are not a Democracy, but a Constitutional Republic, so too the United Kingdom is not a Monarchy, but a Constitutional Monarchy. The difference, the restraint, is important.

So as we have a day off today to reflect on a dead monarch, perhaps take some time to read and reflect on some of words said by the intellectual father of constitutional restraint, John Locke, when he and his colleagues instituted the great 1689 Bill of Rights against the monarch they had just placed upon the throne; placing him, very carefully, "under the restraint of Laws." Because if Constitutional Monarchy does have any value, it's in the first half of that phrase -- which only becomes valuable if the second half is rightly restrained.

Enjoy your holiday. Here's John Locke.
"As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to.”

“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

“Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.”

“As if when men, quitting the state of Nature, entered into society, they agreed that all of them but one should be under the restraint of laws; but that he should still retain all the liberty of the state of Nature, increased with power, and made licentious by impunity.”

“But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression.”

“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom.”

“The great question which, in all ages, has disturbed mankind, and brought on them the greatest part of their mischiefs ... has been, not whether be power in the world, nor whence it came, but who should have it.”

“And because it may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons, who have the power of making laws, to have also in their hands the power to execute them …”

“… no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.”
"For he that thinks absolute Power purifies Mens Bloods, and corrects the baseness of Humane Nature, need read but the History of this, or any other Age to be convinced of the contrary....
    "In Absolute Monarchies indeed, as well as other Governments of the World, the Subjects have an Appeal to the Law, and Judges to decide any Controversies, and restrain any Violence that may happen betwixt the Subjects themselves, one amongst another. This every one thinks necessary, and believes he deserves to be thought a declared Enemy to Society and Mankind, who should go about to take it away. But ... if it be asked, what Security, what Fence is there in such a State, against the Violence and Oppression of this Absolute Ruler? The very Question can scarce be born.... As if when Men quitting the State of Nature entered into Society, they agreed that all of them but one, should be under the restraint of Laws, but that he should still retain all the Liberty of the State of Nature, increased with Power, and made licentious by Impunity. This is to think that Men are so foolish that they take care to avoid what Mischiefs may be done them by Pole-Cats, or Foxes, but are content, nay think it Safety, to be devoured by Lions.
And finally:
“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”

Think on it. 

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