I started this week thinking I might write something passive aggressive about having to work while I’m on holiday. Somehow, I got distracted along the way…
I don’t really want to go on about the freemen too much longer, because I know it’s my passive-aggressive ranting about sales managers that really brings all the boys (and girls) to the yard. But I hope you’ll indulge me in just one more post on the subject, about the reaction from the woo crowd to all this attention.
Things can get pretty rough below the line on Comment is Free, so I expected some personal stuff in the comments on my post about Getoutofdebtfree. As it happens (perhaps because I’m a bear, rather than a woman), pretty much the worst I got was “corporate shill”*.
What’s more interesting is the detailed commenting and exposition from FOTL believers further down the thread. These start with the suggestion that we attack Witterick because we find him threatening, and devolve into long and rambling incantations of FOTL theory.
As with many conspiracy theories, remarkable contortions are performed to sustain the (non)logic. The lawyers are obviously corrupt (“we tend to call them liars in secret”, apparently), but that’s standard; we need to do more to explain why we can’t get a fair deal.
So, the courts and the judges have to be in on the conspiracy as well:
Look at the cases involving children to see how corrupt our treasonous courts have become.
But then you have to explain how that’s allowed to happen, so the Government must also be drawn in:
The banks control everything including the government and … the courts are really just offices doing business…
From there it’s just a small step to the monarchy:
The Queen and the government have sold us out to Europe so they are all guilty of treason.
So, that’s lawyers, bankers, politicians and the royals, plus miscellaneous Europeans; at this point it’s starting to look like we’ll end up with more people inside the conspiracy than not. Frankly, I’m feeling a bit left out – maybe my invitation to the meetings got lost in the post?
Then there’s their remarkable attitude towards language. It’s like a toxic combination of pedantic literalism and witless punnery that would shame a ten year old.
So, we have this:
Then you get a summons that states you must appear at court and you truly believe that you must appear. If only you’d checked up that Blacks Law Dictionary again and discovered that must is synonymous with “may”.
…and this (from a tweet that a Canadian freeman sent to me):
accordng 2 Black’s Law Dictionary, “includes” means “To confine within” which means it’s limited to, in this case, corporation
Did you ever hear the phrase “UK PLC”? Did you miss that the country is a corporation?
…and, spectacularly, this:
Birth = berth as in the berthing of a ship, your body is the vessel
I could go on, but there’s an odd buzzing sensation in my head.
When it suits, the freemen will have a word carry only a single, preferred meaning (“includes” can only mean “to confine within”, and never “encompasses this and other things”). When it doesn’t, they’ll crowbar in a completely unrelated meaning to support their theory (”birth” = “berth”).
If that’s not enough ad hoccery, they also chuck in some frankly wilful misinterpretation of stuff like Magna Carta (no government without consent) and the Cestui Que Vie Act (which says that we’re all dead, apparently). If those documents are too new-fangled for you, they can drag up the Roman doctrine of “capitis diminution maxima”**.
The theory is so complex, and so interconnected, that each brick has to be defended to the hilt lest the entire edifice fall. Just that single word “includes” can’t be admitted to also mean “encompasses this and other things”, because then a person and a corporation wouldn’t necessarily be synonymous.
One day I might test your patience by devoting a post to a thorough rebuttal of each FOTL claim, if only to ensure that it’s available to curious googlers. For now, I’ll restrict myself to the observation that the theory is so complicated, and so dependent on contingent and disprovable assertions as well as the concerted efforts of at least a few hundred thousand people, that the chances of it being a useful explanation of reality are vanishingly small.
For what it’s worth, I think the disconnect is the difference between wishing that the world were ordered in a particular way and believing that it actually is so ordered. The freemen look back to a time of “common law” (as they understand it), in which an individual could consent or not to being governed, and instead of working to return the world to that condition they act as if it is already there.
That is not to affirm their beliefs about the past, which are at the very least debatable. But many people have a different conception of how the world might be, and that is not in itself a bad thing.
Instead of working to gather enough support to bring about the system that they believe in, however, the freemen have constructed a theory that denies the reality of the system that exists. That actually militates against them being able to achieve their goals, because the theory is so easily disprovable and they can be so easily characterised as marginal loons.
Sure, there are plenty of people who have a vested interest in the present system remaining as it is, but that’s not the same as a conspiracy against the truth. You can change the system if you get enough support, but until then it still is the system.
I’ll finish with a couple of personal points:
- As to whether I’m a corporate shill: I wrote my original article and the CiF post because I’m worried that people who are in debt might find their circumstances worsened by following the Getoutofdebtfree strategy. That view may or may not accord with the interests of my employer – I haven’t thought about it too deeply, to be honest.
- My personal views about politics and economics are almost certainly not what the freemen would believe them to be. If this were a politics blog I might write about the changes that I’d like to see, but it’s not, so I won’t. I just don’t think that I’m necessarily a vested interest myself, is all.
And finally, a promise: no more woo (at least for a little while).
*The comment has been removed by moderators (not at my request, and I wouldn’t have thought that it was because of such a mild insult).
**Freemen think “capitis diminution maxima” means stripping someone of personhood by capitalising their name. Benjamin Gray, who had a better education than I, translates it as “maximum losing your head”, and says that classical Latin had no lower case in any event.