Sotheby's New York yesterday auctioned an original copy of the Magna Carta Libertatum, or The Great Charter of Freedoms. It was sold for well over twenty one million dollars (£10.6 million) to David Rubenstein, the founder of the Carlyle Group. More details here.
In sharp contrast to the recently signed "Treaty of Lisbon" - dubbed here "Leviathan's birth certificate" - the Magna Carta is known as the "birth certificate of freedom"*. From the Introduction:
"(...) It (the copy) comes from an issue, that of 1297, which for the first time accompanied demands that there be no taxation without representation: a momentous challenge to royal authority and the origin of much that it is of significance in later history, not least in the history of the American Revolution."
It is shocking to realise that a matter of basic right thought to have been settled by a political revolution in England in 1215 - the principle of "no taxation, without representation" - is actually An Issue in Europe Anno Domini 2007! Wait, it gets worse ...
"From the constitutional principles embodied in Magna Carta emerged the concept of the liberty of the individual citizen, a proper and permanent challenge to the feudal tyranny of England’s medieval kings, and the very origins of the common law." ... and ..."
(...) like the Declaration of Independence, it was nothing less than a public proclamation of a new political order, in this instance of negotiations conducted between the barons and King John of England* nearly eight hundred years ago."
Speaking of which, in today's England the trend is pointing in the opposite direction. EURSOC in a posting just recently, "Fighting Big Brother" detailed a discourse raging within the Left wing. Mouthpiece Al Guardian's journalist Henry Porter apparently had the misfortune to critique the way in which the current government has chipped away at liberties, and was heavily castigated!
His colleague Polly Toynbee reacted as might be expected from one thoroughly versed in the workings of the glorified victimhood of the Marxist dialectic:
"Worries about a nascent police state are, she wrote, "fashionable because it allows the middle classes to pretend to be victims, too. But it is decadence for mainly privileged people to obsess over imaginary Big Brother attacks on themselves, when others all around them are suffering badly from neglect by the state - or sometimes from real aggression by government. Indignation isprecious, not to be squandered on illusory threats, but saved for real injustices."Tut tut ...! The erroneously aligned, liberty loving Porter may well react by speaking of "breathtaking dishonesty of her argument (...) to describe anyone who opposes Labour on these grounds as a being a right-winger" - Porter is still Leftist enough to consider such an insult - personally I shudder at the realisation that neototals like Toynbee represent today's intelligentsia, calling the shots in politics and in the corridors of power!
That we may long be neglected by the state, in the absence of which, I'd rather have the Middle Ages as a more enlightened period ... I wouldn't be surprised, if at some point in the near future we'd not all prefer the rule of John, an awful king as explained by Messrs Sellar and Yeatman in "1066 and all that, a memorable history of England" (Methuen & Co., 16th October 1930):
"When John came to the throne he lost his temper and flung himself on the floor, foaming at the mouth and biting the rushes. (...) John was so bad that the Pope decided to put the whole country under an Interdict, i.e. he gave orders that no one was to be born or die or marry (except in Church porches)."
* "There also happened in this reign the memorable Charta known as the Magna Charter (...) and was invented by the Barons on a desert island in the Thames called Ganymede. By congregating there, armed to the teeth, the Barons compelled John to sign the Magna Charter, which said:
- That no one was to be put to death, save for some reason - (except the Common People).- Filed on Articles in "The Post Democratic Preferences of the Neotots" -
- That everyone should be free - (except the Common People).
- That everyone should be of the same weight and measure throughout the Realm - (except the Common People).
- That the Courts should be stationary, instead of following a very tiresome medieval official known as the King's Person all over the country.
- That 'no person should be fined to his utter ruin' - (except the King's Person).
- That the Barons should not be tried except by a special jury of other Barons who would understand.
Magna Charter was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England and thus a Good Thing for everyone - (except the Common People).