In my latest Loonie Politics column I say if Theresa May’s record 432-202 thumping over Brexit, the most important political issue not just of her Prime Ministership but of this generation in Britain, is not a loss of confidence forcing her resignation, then the British Constitution as we have known it for at least 250 years no longer exists.
“Liberty, next to religion, has been the motive of good deeds and the common pretext of crime, from the sowing of the seed at Athens, 2,460 years ago, until the ripened harvest was gathered by men of our race.”
Start of Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton) The History of Freedom
“The state is not the source of individual rights or of social community. It presupposes that these exist and are worth protecting, and that individuals reciprocally benefit from their interactions with one another…. The state becomes a moral imperative precisely because there is something of value that is worth protecting from the unbridled use of force by those who forsake tradition, family, and friends. A set of forced exchanges from existing rights does not create the original rights so exchanged… A forced exchange does not create culture and sense of community, it protects them by removing the need for compelling or allowing everyone to act as a policeman in his own estate.”
Richard Epstein, Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain
“The Roman republic did not fall before external foes. It had not been permanently crippled or weakened by long wars against powerful neighbours. What, then, were the faults and weaknesses that brought it to disaster? Were they due to defects in Roman political life or to a faulty machinery of government? Where they the result of an unsound economic system which discouraged the production and upset the distribution among all the people of the good things of this world? Was Roman law unjust, producing social discontent and resentment? Or did the trouble spring from some deeper cause, traceable perhaps to some fundamental change in men’s attitude towards life? If so, was it a matter of altered social relationships between one class and another, between rich and poor, between the old families and fashionable society on the one hand and the unknown ‘common man’ on the other, between the free and the slaves or between the Romans and the Italians or the Romans and foreigners? Beyond all these possible sources of weakness was there a failure of old religious and moral beliefs and a decay of old habits that had in the last resort been the true source of the vitality of the State? Such seem to be the main questions that arise as we read about Cicero…”
Introduction in F.R. Cowell Cicero and the Roman Republic