The Octocentenary Of Liberty

Signing of the Magna Carta, 1215Just a quick word to commemorate one of history’s greatest advances in the cause of Liberty.

I’m still buried under three-and-a-half separate projects, and won’t be much freer for blogging until October at the earliest. But I couldn’t let today go by without noting the 800th birthday of the Great Charter of the Liberties, or Magna Carta Libertatum (thanks for the reminder Mark Steyn). On this day in 1215, King John of England signed away his regnal divine right, and subjected himself to the Laws of his own realm. Though as Mark points out at the link, the original intent, to restrain state power in favour of the citizen, seems today to be turned on its head. Everyone is a citizen these days (not merely clergy, freemen and the nobility, as it was back then). But the rights of the citizen get fewer every year, and the power of the state over the citizen increases in inverse proportion.

Just yesterday, I found this (apparently serious) proposal, made on the pretext of relieving traffic congestion, to affix by law GPS tracking devices to every motor vehicle in Australia and charge taxes as a function of the use of the most crowded roads. Thankfully, most politicians have had the good sense to steer well clear of anything remotely resembling endorsement, with National Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss sagely observing the proposal “didn’t pass the pub test”.

But our Liberty is being eroded, in a thousand small ways, every single day. The tax base is broadened every time I open a newspaper. The reach of supra-national and global government bodies becomes more pervasive with each passing year. Anyone daring to question the New Order is labelled a this-ist or a that-ophobe, is hounded, threatened and sued, all with the enthusiastic cheering (if not downright financial aid) of the state. Makes me want to reach for my axe. But I’m off back to work. Many happy returns.

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4 Responses to The Octocentenary Of Liberty

  1. karabar says:

    Very well said, Oz boy. Happy MC Day to you, Mrs. Oz, and all the little Oz’s. And if you are ever up Tamar Valley way, do drop in.

    Thanks K, just might do that – Oz

  2. karabar says:

    My eyesight is failing me a bit. On the extreme right side of that photo is something white and quite rotund. Is that Lara Giddings?

    Oh gawddd, no – Oz

    For the non-Tasmanians, this is who Karabar is talking about.

  3. karabar says:

    Recent interview with the “leader” of the opposition.

    He’s never made himself clearer – Oz

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi Ozboy. Thanks for your reply in the previous post. You are a most gracious gentleman.

    On the topic: A very interesting document rendered even more important with time (that is, as it has been interpreted and understood to encompass the many rather than the few). I do have a question about the date, however. Given that the calendar changed in the 18th century, I always wonder what day we’re actually referring to. Apparently the discrepancy in time between the ‘true’ calendar (the one we use) and the Julian grew to the extent of 11 days. Never mind that in the past the new year didn’t start in January….

    The Gregorian calendar was adopted by the Papal States and throughout Catholic Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Poland and the Baltic) in 1582. Protestant and Orthodox countries followed sporadically after that. Russia and Greece kept the Julian calendar up till the early 20th century. The original correction was 10 days, so you may as well mark the dates as recorded by the historians of the day. Pretty ironic of the Vatican to lead the world in calendar reform, given how opposed they used to be to empirical astronomical research – Oz

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