The Bizzle

"Saving your ass since 1999"

Consenting kidults

Thomas Rainsborough: Civil War hunk

“For really I think that the poorest hee that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest hee; and therefore truly, Sir, I think itt clear, that every Man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own Consent to put himself under that Government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put Himself under.” Thomas Rainsborough, quoted in the Putney Debates record book of 1647

Yesterday there was a flurry of comments from freeman on the land types on the very first woo piece that I wrote, way back in June last year. I guess that for people obsessed with the Magna Carta that counts as rapid rebuttal, right?

I’ve more or less given up on responding to comments from the woo theorists, it being about as rewarding and effective as arguing with a table. But I’m making a special exception for this comment from “Thomas Wayne”:

but if statutes do not require consent then surely that would be suggesting we are slaves would it not?

are we not governed by consent ?

legislation are rules of a society, who says we have to be a member of said society?

where is the social contract?

Most importantly, why are our constitutional rights ignored and subverted ?

The last question derives, I think, from the woo theorist obsession with the Magna Carta, and I’ll gratefully leave that to the constitutional lawyers and historians. But I’m interested (on a strictly amateur basis) in the questions about consent and government in the rest of the comment, which are perhaps relevant to more mainstream libertarian thought as well.

I think that I understand the impulse to view issues of liberty through a personal lens: the law affects me on an individual level, and is imposed by a remote and authoritarian state. That is by definition a restriction on my personal freedom, in the sense that it prevents me from acting entirely as I might otherwise wish.

But I think that to reduce this to an issue of personal consent to each law, or to government generally, is an error of scale. Government being a state-level institution, the only meaningful consent to it must be at that same level, in the sense of the collective consent of all of the people living in that state.

My individual consent, therefore, would be relevant only as a component of that collective consent. If consent is a precondition to government, and it is the collective will of the people to be governed, then we are governed whether or not it was my own will that we should be.

This is surely what Rainsborough meant: not that a man (and it was only men he had in mind) was not bound by a government to which he had not consented, but that he would not be bound if he had not been given the opportunity to participate in the giving of the collective consent. In democratic societies, at least, most people have that opportunity, albeit that the mechanisms by which the collective will is assessed may be more or less satisfactory according to country.

So if I purport to withdraw my consent from a particular government or from government generally, this does not mean that I cease to be governed. This could only happen if the collective consent was withdrawn, which is to say if a sufficiently large number of my fellow citizens agreed with me.

The alternative view would raise extreme practical challenges. How would we, in everyday dealings, be able to tell who had consented and who had not, and therefore to understand on what basis we are to interact with them?

This is not to say that the consent of the individual would be irrelevant: the collective consent is an expression of multiple individual consents, and any change in that collective consent must start with individuals. The mechanism for expressing that collective consent is, of course, the subject of much theorising and debate.

If the collective consent cannot be changed, however, the only meaningful way in which an individual consent to government could be exercised would be through the withdrawal of the individual from the state altogether. Modern states being generally defined territorially, this must mean physical withdrawal rather than mere refusal to participate.

Every physical territory in the world is governed in some way, so it may be practically impossible to escape the state altogether. On the other hand some states are weaker than others, so there are perhaps places (such as Somalia or Afghanistan) where one could in practice live untroubled by government and law.

But does that mean that one would not be subject to the control of others? The world is now a crowded place, and it seems to me to be a matter of historical fact that where people live in proximity to each other hierarchies develop and those who feel themselves to be stronger seek to dominate others.

And that is the real problem with the idea that individual consent to government is meaningful. Concepts of consent and the social contract are attempts to find a theoretical basis for the fact of government, but they do not in practice describe how the state came into existence.

As Francis Fukuyama has it in The Origin of Political Order:

We might label this the Hobbesean fallacy: the idea that human beings were primordially individualistic and that they entered into society at a later stage in their development only as a result of rational calculation that social cooperation was the best way for them to achieve their individual ends.

The modern state, and the various forms of government that accompany and embody it, are codified and structured expressions of an innate tendency to cooperation, dominance and hierarchy. The choice you have is not between being governed and being free, it is between different types of dominance (or perhaps between being the dom and the sub, as it were).

So the state does not care about your individual consent; it will continue to govern you regardless as long as it has the physical and social power to do so. The state creates and enforces legislation through that same power, which may be more or less coercive according to the form of government.

Collective consent may still play a role, in the sense that if a critical mass of citizenry withdraws it there may be a change in the institutions of the state (perhaps accompanied by a degree of violence). But that is still a matter of power rather than contract, and the state tends to persist even in an altered form.

So pending major depopulation or significant evolutionary change, we are going to be governed whether we like it or not. That government can be more or less coercive, and more or less authoritarian, but it is going to be there.

Is Western government and the legislation it imposes through imperfect democratic mechanisms “slavery”? If you think there is a binary choice between perfect liberty and total loss of autonomy, perhaps, but I suspect most of us are adult enough to accept that there must be some restriction on our freedom to act as we wish.

In any given society at any given time, some of those restrictions may be excessive. But there is at least a debate, and the opportunity to participate in it, about where the limits should lie.

But if that’s too hard, you could just have a tantrum about not being allowed to do whatever you want.


Postscript: I don’t have any special expertise in constitutional theory, and this post is essentially me ordering my thoughts on the matter in public. So I won’t be particularly surprised if what I’ve written turns out to be bollocks, but it’d be helpful if you showed your workings when you tell me that.

20 responses to “Consenting kidults

  1. davidgerard March 29, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    By the way, the RationalWiki article on Freeman on the land has just been severely polished up and is now one of our featured articles. You’re referenced in it 😉 We think it’s pretty comprehensive, but I’m sure there’s more lunacy to come …

  2. thomas wayne March 30, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I just wanted to add to this, as in my original post i never mentioned i am a freeman on the land, nor mentioned Magna Carta, these are words and labels attached to me by legalbizzle and other posters.

    I am a student of law, my particular interest being constitutional, here is my response to the various posts, posts that did not seem to want an intelligent debate, but only to push egotistical opinions upon me and try and make me look stupid.

    Firstly legalweasel, HA, the name says it all, but peace to you my friend as i am just expressing in jest.

    The “Unwritten Constitution” is perhaps the greatest trick ever played on the people of these lands:

    Charter of Liberties
    Magna Carta
    Declaration & Bill of Rights
    Act of Supremacy
    Act of Settlement
    Claim of Right Act
    Union with Scotland Act

    The Bill of Rights state we cannot suffer any fine or forfeiture unless we have been found guilty of an offence in a court of law. Fines should not be excessive, and no cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.

    We now have a whole range of fixed penalty fines for which we are not permitted to appeal in one of Her Majesty’s Courts of Law. These are constitutionally illegal.

    (2)The Bill of Rights says that any threat of a fine or forfeiture voids the offence. Yet we are told that if we drop litter or don’t have a TV Licence we will be fined £1000, we are told that if we do not insure or tax our car it will be seized and crushed. These threats are constitutionally illegal.

    (3)The Bill of Rights states we may not be imprisoned unless we have been found guilty of an offence in one of Her Majesty’s Courts of Law. Yet we have 42 day detention under the anti terrorist laws, detention without any evidence being produced to any one, let alone one of Her Majesty’s Courts of Law. This detention is constitutionally illegal.

    These illegal laws are subverting the constitution, the major crime of Sedition, which at this level amounts to high treason against Her Majesty’s subjects.

    Hope this answers your questions my friend.

    late for law school, your a bit rude my friend so im only going to entertain one of your questions but lucky for you, you get a free one (see above)

    The Act of Supremacy states the following:

    “No Foreign Prince, Person. State or Potentate. Hath or ought to have any Power, Jurisdiction, Superiority, Supremacy, or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual in this Realm”. The Tudors in the main ruled according to the prerogatives given to them by law.

    Yet we are governed by unelected bureaucrats from the EU.

    Im pretty sure i never suggested this
    “Governing by consent does not mean that every single person in the nation must agree specifically to every single law passed by parliament. That’s madness.”

    Those are your words my friend,

    i agree its madness.

    There is legislation that exists that we have a duty and an obligation to withdraw our consent from, legislation that is ruining lives both domestic and foreign.

    legalbizzle, I’m honoured I inspired you to write an article, thank you.

    I don’t have to leave my land my friend, Government is fiction, man is both its creator and master, man has just forgotten his place, but even as we type they awaken to form a critical mass which want restitution, and will achieve it.

    I believe i said nothing of Magna Carta in my original post.

    I am certainly not having a tantrum because im not allowed to do whatever i want to do, im having a tantrum because im being prevented from doing what i was created to do.

    You do not know me, yet you judge me my friends.

    i follow simple principles, i respect the laws of nature, i respect the constitution.

    i consider myself to have certain rights, and treat others if they had the same.

    i do not harm, cause loss and i honour all contracts, i certainly don’t see why anyone should have to beg for a license to do that which is already lawful.
    That suggests, for example, that to not have a license to drive would make the the act of driving a car a crime, where is the cause of action? no one has suffered a tort, no one makes a claim.

    You make the common mistake of thinking that you, I, or anyone else is a citizen, again, a citizen is a fiction, are you not a man? with a soul? a heart? and a mind?

    A citizen is a construct of the mind, it exists only within the mind and on paper, it is not real, it is nowhere in this physical universe and cannot be touched, besides, the government does not consider you a citizen.

    You forget who you are my friends, thank you for your time and replies, safety and peace to you all.

    Make of it what you will, do not take my word for anything, do not take legalbizzles words and hold them higher than your own, do your own research, find your own answers my friends, after all, without verification and validation, others words are just hearsay.

  3. Sean Jones (@seanjones11kbw) March 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm


    I have picked a point at random to have a look at. You appear to rely upon a provision of the Act of Supremacy to establish that it is unlawful for us to be “governed” by EU bureaucrats. I think that is a tendentious description of the present situation but isn’t your bigger problem that only part of section 8 of the Second Act of Supremacy remains in force? All other provisions have since been repealed.


  4. thomas wayne March 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Hello my friend,

    It is a fundamental part of our constitution that statutes cannot repeal by implied repeal, a constitutional law.

    Its a fundamental part of our constitution that parliament, may not surrender any of their rights to govern, to a foreign power unless we have been defeated in war. To do so constitutes an act of High Treason

    Government acts beyond its power, evident by the majority of their actions, they are corrupt, even the blind know this.

    Thank you for your question.

    • davidgerard March 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm

      “It is a fundamental part of our constitution that statutes cannot repeal by implied repeal, a constitutional law.”

      This is completely incorrect. The British “constitution” is not a document, but just the way things happen to have ended up working. Parliament can repeal anything. Consider that the Criminal Justice Bill repealed the right to slience.

    • seanjones11kbw April 1, 2012 at 1:46 am


      Thank you for your answer. Putting aside your point about implied repeal (and thus avoiding a completely different argument). The repeals of the sections of the Second Act of Supremacy were effected expressly and not impliedly. They were specifically repealed by later acts.

      I cannot tell whether you are asserting that those repeals were treasonous. Could you point me to the legislative source of the principle you rely upon for needing to be defeated in a war before any power can be surrendered?

      Best wishes

  5. thomas wayne March 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Davidgerard- I post here so we can have intelligent debates about a very in-depth and interesting subject my friend, you cannot prove it is completely incorrect so please do not make such opinionated statements, why not say ‘i beg to differ’ then share you reasons, it cost nothing to be polite, i am not your enemy.

    im aware they repeal anything they want, but Just because they do it doesn’t mean its lawful or right, its known as Ultra Vires (Beyond power)

    These are documents:

    Charter of Liberties
    Magna Carta
    Declaration & Bill of Rights
    Act of Supremacy
    Act of Settlement
    Claim of Right Act
    Union with Scotland Act

    and they make up our constitution.

    Whether you, i or anyone else is correct about this is irrelevant, all it boils down to is the fact that we have a corrupt government that is guilty of crimes against humanity.

    Do you really believe that there needs to be poverty?, homelessness?, OAP’s dying in their homes during Christmas because of extortionate bills placed on us by private companies that only care about profit?

    Id rather see our constitution from the perspective that it gives us certain rights and limits the powers of government and the monarch than see it as nothing that can be ignored, but that’s just me my friend.

    • davidgerard March 31, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      The trouble is the things you’re saying are completely incorrect in all practical measures. And that fact is important, and needs to be pointed out. You may consider it fundamentally impolite to disagree with you, but that would of course contradict your claim of wanting a discussion.

      All of the documents you name can be repealed in whole or in part if Parliament takes it into its head to do so. For example, most of the Magna Carta has been repealed.

      You can say it’s your opinion that this didn’t happen, but it did and the observable effects are as if it did. Thus, it is true that your opinion is yours, but is at divergence with reality in both theory and practice. (For example, if you took a claim under Clause 61 of the Magna Carta of 1215 into court – as Freemen On The Land claim to be able to do – you would lose, as it hasn’t been in effect since three months after it was signed.)

    • Marc Daniels April 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      This is not even wrong. The 1215 Magna Carta was repealed the next year. The Act of Supremacy was repealed by Mary and restated by Elizabeth. Nobody at the time thought there was anything odd about this. Nor did Dicey, Coke, and the others who’ve written about the British constitution over the last few hundred years.

  6. thomas wayne April 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Its not because you disagree my friend, its because you post rude, egotistical opinions.

    I know they repeal them, as I said before, “im aware they repeal anything they want, but Just because they do it doesn’t mean its lawful or right, its known as Ultra Vires (Beyond power)”

    How can they repeal a document they were not party to?

    constitutional law is higher than statute my friend.

    This is what’s known as ‘subverting the constitution’

    HA 🙂 many posters here seem to be more obsessed with Magna Carta than most freemen.

    If your talking about the pope annulling Magna Carta then how can he if he was not party to that document?

    If your argument is also that it was signed under duress, well most treaties are signed under duress, but still stand.

    I do not doubt that if you took a claim under article 61 of Magna Carta into court as a freeman on the land that you would lose.

    I have never mentioned you would win, nor that im a freeman, you label people, put words in their mouths, that is why its not an intelligent debate my friend.

    Im sorry if your threatened or you feel your way of life is threatened by the freemen, why you have so much disregard for them is beyond me.

    Has one personally caused you to suffer in some way?

    Why you label anyone who disagrees with government and their corruption as a freeman is beyond me also.

    Do you really believe that there needs to be poverty?, homelessness?, OAP’s dying in their homes during Christmas because of extortionate bills placed on us by private companies that only care about profit?

    Id rather see our constitution from the perspective that it gives us certain rights and limits the powers of government and the monarch than see it as nothing that can be ignored, but that’s just me my friend.

    Thank you for your time.

    • legalbizzle April 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Hi, Thomas. Other people are debating your claims, and I’m happy to leave them to it, but I’d like to clarify why I categorised you with the other freeman on the land who commented on my post from last year.

      You arrived at my blog from a forum on the Get Out Of Debt Free site, where you posted that you were going to ask me the specific questions that I responded to. That site promotes freeman on the land theories as a means of escaping liability to pay debts.

      It therefore seemed reasonable to suppose that you would classify yourself as a freeman on the land, or at the very least that you were sympathetic to their ideas. Nothing that I’ve seen in your comments has changed my mind on that score.

      My problem with the freeman movement, for what it’s worth, is that it (in its GOODF incarnation at least) claims that its methods for debt avoidance are successful. That is not true, and people who follow the GOODF advice risk making their financial situation worse.

      Regarding the consitutional arguments that you have raised in these comments, I disagree with them all on the grounds that they fundamentally mistake the nature of law and statute. But it doesn’t matter very much to me that you hold these views, because provided that you’re not purporting to offer advice on debt or anything else then you are doing little or no harm.

      • davidgerard April 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm

        Yes. The big problem with FMOTL and related belief systems is not their moral basis – considering government a damnable imposition has a venerable history, and a few more constitutional constraints on parliament might be useful – but the claims of adherents that this stuff actually has the desired effect on reality. Particularly those amongst the leading lights of the movement who sell this stuff that only gets its customers into even worse trouble. There’s great money in rooking the already-desperate.

  7. thomas wayne April 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    It has got me in no trouble my friends, in-fact its empowered me to deal with situations that once inspired fear.

    I can boost many successes with regards to dealing with banks, debt collectors, solicitors and councils.

    it has taught me to question everything and not to accept the alleged authority that some of these institutions have claimed they have over me.

    All i see is good people trying to help others on GOODF, many i have met and are sincere and honourable.

    Government is corrupt, our monetary system is corrupt, that is indisputable, if some people are taking a stand and saying ‘NO’ then good on them.

    The majority of us are not comfortable, we are barely surviving, when every human on this planet should be thriving.

    People are loosing everything, including myself and it seems that those who are comfortable dismiss the suffering because it does not effect them.

    It is hard for some of us my friends, in the space of a month i have lost everything.

    • Ian Chard April 2, 2012 at 9:04 am

      I have no doubt that some — perhaps most — inhabitants of GOODF are well intentioned. That doesn’t change the fact that ‘freeman’-inspired advice to those in dire straits is wrong and dangerous.

      Think of it like a Ponzi scheme. At the beginning (i.e. now), some people will meet with success. Banks and debt collectors will be confused by freeman rhetoric and some will inevitably give up after a while; their debtors will ascribe this to their ‘freeman’ tactics. Word spreads, and while some will have apparent success, many more will be forced into bankruptcy, repossession and worse. Eventually the pyramid collapses: ‘freeman’ tactics enter the general public consciousness, those seeking to recover debts become familiar with them, and they are brushed aside with increasing levels of contempt and impatience. ‘Freemen’ will claim conspiracy and repression as their apparent success melts away. It may even get to the point where legislation is enacted specifically addressing this specious nonsense (like the ‘frivolous tax arguments’ laws in the US — ask Wesley Snipes how that worked out for him).

      There is a disconnect between your arguments about how things *should* be, and how things actually are. Constitutional debate is one thing, but encouraging desperate people to risk the little they have left is quite another.

      • davidgerard April 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

        This is already the case in the US – “strawman theory” and “birth certificate bond” arguments are considered frivolous by the IRS (the fines for trying to use them start at $5,000) and the FBI considers selling such arguments to be sufficiently fraudulent to pursue.

  8. thomas wayne April 2, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Ian chard – GOODF may highlight the freeman philosophy but most of its tactics are actually based on law my friend.

    The successes have nothing to do with debt collectors being confused, its because the majority of them know they have no right trying to demand money from people.

    These people are adults and can make up their own minds and if they ever get out of their comfort zone its never too late to make their alleged creditor an offer.

    It seems that you all have scratched the surface of the freeman philosophy, and you focus mainly on the strawman argument, there is a lot more to it than that my friends.

    I understand your concerns, but to have such bold opinions when you have had no experience dealing with these corrupt institutions is a bit frivolous my friends.

    The freeman Philosophy sparked my interest in law, and i have now been studying law for the last 30 months.

    I have used the new found knowledge to challenge institution’s that made demands upon me, friends, and family, and i have won by highlighting the irregularities of their processes and their own regulations.

    As i keep saying but it seems to be side stepped, government is corrupt, the monetary system is corrupt, that is indisputable, they are guilty of crimes against humanity both domestic and foreign.

    If people want to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’ and try to chuck a spanner in their works then good on them, no one is coming to save us, we have to stand up for ourselves.

    A blind man can see where this corruption is heading, if you have money and are comfortable, don’t be fooled into thinking it will not affect you my friends.

    ACTA, SOPA now this:

    This is a huge invasion of our privacy.

    You did have constitutional rights, that have now been subverted.

    Councils issue their own summons, liability orders, this is illegal, only courts have the authority to do this.

    you have paedophiles and criminals in positions of power such as MP’s, police and the judicial system.

    A monetary system born from fraud.

    Rising petrol and food prices with no end in sight.

    Everything we own and built, all our resources being privatised.

    The list goes on and on, when is enough, enough my friends.

    It wont be long till they bend you over and F**k you too

    Please don’t get caught up in arguments over strawmen and what not, it is distracting and taking our eyes off the ball.

    I do not consider myself a freeman, and what i understand from it is that its more a state of mind than anything, if it empowers people so they can deal with threats then i only see that as a good thing.

    Anyone who believes that merely stating ‘im a freeman’ can get them out of situations such as speeding, is an idiot, they have not done any research and get what they deserve, just like this women:

    People are trying to blame the government minister for suggesting to stock up.

    Its certainly the governments fault that the petrol crisis happened but it was her stupidity alone that ended with her catching on fire.

    Instead of creating blogs attacking people for their beliefs, that have caused you no harm, who are not your enemy but your fellow man, your brothers, sisters, would it not be more productive to create something highlighting the corruption that plagues our world my friends.

  9. Pingback: I am not a driver.

  10. Rob Sudy January 17, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    I have recently published a 500 page rebuttal of OPCA concepts that may be of interest to readers, you can download it free here:

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