Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Magna Carta in the Age of the American Caesars

Monday, June 15, 2015, is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.  In his book, Magna Carta, J.C. Holt, professor of medieval history, University of Cambridge, notes that three of the chapters of this ancient document still stand on the English Stature Book and that so much of what survives of the Great Charter is “concerned with individual liberty,” which “is a reflexion of the quality of the original act of 1215.”

In the 17th century Sir Edward Coke used the Great Charter of the Liberties to establish the supremacy of Parliament, the representative of the people, as the origin of law.

A number of legal scholars have made the irrelevant point that the Magna Carter protected rights of the Church, nobles, and free men who were not enserfed, a small percentage of the population in the early 13th century.  We hear the same about the US Constitution–it was something the rich did for themselves. I have no sympathy for debunking human achievements that, in the end, gave ordinary people liberty.

At Runnymede in 1215 no one but the armed barons had the power and audacity to make King John submit to law.  The rule of law, not the rule of the sovereign or of the executive branch in Washington acceded to by a cowardly and corrupt Congress and Supreme Court, is a human achievement that grew out of the Magna Carta over the centuries, with ups and downs of course.

Blackstone’s Commentaries in 1759 fed into the American Revolution and gave us the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Geneva Conventions extended the rule of law to the international arena.

Beginning with the Clinton Administration and rapidly accelerating with the  George W. Bush and Obama regimes and Tony Blair in England, the US and UK governments have run roughshod over their accountability to law.

Both the US and UK in the 21st century have gone to numerous wars illegally under the Nuremberg Standard established by the US and UK following Germany’s defeat in WWII and used to execute Germans for war crimes.  The US and UK claim that unlike Germany they are immune to the very international law that they themselves established in order to punish the defeated Germans. Washington and London can bomb and murder at will, but not Germany.

Both governments illegally and unconstitutionally (the UK Constitution is unwritten) spy on their citizens, and the Bush and Obama executive branches, have eviscerated, with the complicity of Congress and the federal courts, the entirely of the US Constitution except for the Second Amendment, which is protected by the strong lobby of the National Rifle Association. If the gun control “progressives” have their way, nothing will be left of the US Constitution.

Washington and its European satellites have subordinated law to a political and economic hegemonic agenda.  Just as under the heyday of colonialism when the West looted the non-white world, today the West loots its own.  Greece is being looted as was Ireland, and Italy and Spain will not escape looting unless they renege on their debts and leave the EU.

Western capitalism is a looting mechanism.  It loots labor.  It loots the environment, and with the transpacific and transatlantic “partnerships” it will loot the sovereign law of countries.  For example, France’s laws against GMOs become “restraints on trade” and subjects France to punitive law suits by Monsanto. If France doesn’t pay Monsanto the damages Monsanto claims, France is subject to punitive sanctions like Washington applies to Russia when Russia doesn’t do what Washington wants.

A new slave existence is being created in front of our eyes as law ceases to be a shield of peoples and becomes a weapon in the hands of government.  Eight hundred years of reform is being overturned as Washington and its vassals invade, bomb, and overthrow governments that are out of step with Washington’s agenda.  Formerly self-sufficient agricultural communities are becoming wage slaves for international agribusiness corporations.  Everywhere privilege is rising above law and justice is being lost.

The concentration of wealth and power is reminiscent of the aristocratic era and of Rome under the Caesars.  The demise of the rule of law has stripped ordinary people of security and dignity.  Peoples of the world must protect themselves by acting in defense of the Great Charter’s principle that governments are accountable to law.  Governments unaccountable to law are tyrannies whatever they might call themselves, no matter how exceptional and indispensable they declare themselves to be.

Monday in Westminster in London, the International Tribunal for Natural Justice is forming. If my understanding of this work of Humanitad is correct, we have a cause for hope.  Perhaps the Tribunal will try the criminals of our time, almost all of which are “leaders” of Western governments, on the Internet with juries and prosecutors so that populations everywhere can witness  the evil that every Western government represents.

Once the West is perceived as the evil force that it is, it will have to reform and again embrace Edward Coke’s vision of the Great Charter or become an unimportant backwater while the rest of the world goes on to better things.  The world is saved once the world ceases to bow down to the American Caesar.

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is How America Was Lost.

 

More articles by:

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail