Robert J. Scrutton
ANDREW DAKERS LIMITED
FIRST PUBLISHED 1941
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY
THE RIVERSIDE PRESS, EDINBURG
The danger of disunity among reformers. Co-operation is
possible without compromise. An experiment in public unity
in which a quarter of a million took part. Laws which
make reform obligatory.
I Man's Inhumanity to Man 25
A balance sheet of war. The cause of war and the way of
Lee The lack of human purpose has allowed man s systems
to enslave him. The law must make systems serve man.
The need for legal definitions of human purpose to govern
II. Man Versus the Machine 35
The productive power of the machine. Plenty and leisure
made possible for all. Enforced leisure punishable with semi-
starvation. Man's needs the only practical foundation for
social reform. Enforced and unnecessary poverty must be
III. Destruction of Food and Life 45
Reconstruction after the 1914-18 War. Why plans for prosperity and personal security caused overstocked markets, unemployment and starvation. The confusion of politicians. What is the purpose of life—to work or to live? Life sacrificed to pay War Loans. Schemes which failed. The problem of too many goods solved by destruction and restriction whilst the people starved. The Law must forbid the destruction and restriction of food whilst any person is in need.
IV. The Violation of Common Law 67
The private control over Parlament. Government by non-
elected and non-representative institutions. Control of
British life by foreign financial interests. Legal lawlessness,
Treton. Politicians who ignore the Law. The need for
supreme laws defining the purpose of society and the duties of
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V. The Peace We Lost 83
The fight for foreign markets and monopolistic powers. British financial policy ruins the Empire by withholding raw materials from other countries. Statesmen look for the unknown foe. Peace Conferences for war. Nations fight for the privilege of feeding each other but starve their own people. The real cause of the war. Dare we trust our politicians to s safeguard peace when the war is over? Why the League of Nations and Peace Conferences failed. The need for international law binding upon peoples and governments. International Laws.
VI. Common Law and Common Right 103
The denial of Law by our legislators. What is Common Law? The true purpose of statute law. Why the spirit of Common Law must be reasserted in the world to-day. The danger of Parliament with unlimited powers. The denial of free discussion in the House of Commons. The decline of the rule of law. The insecurity of the "rights of the British subject."
VII. "Your 'Educated' cause Shame, Terror and
Political inconsistency and deceit which endangered the security of the nation.
VIII. Public Watch and Ward 129
Spiritual values must be embodied in a national philosophy. The medieval Courts Christian in a modern setting. The need for public training in moral-civic duty. The moral-civic precepts which are necessary for national and personal security. Public forums, Common Law Councils, and referen-dums to check harmful legislation and to introduce reforms.
IX. A Personal Security Enabling Act 143
An example of how the proposed Supreme Laws can be put into effect by Enabling Acts. How the necessities of life could be guaranteed to all. A Commonwealth Society. Chanty and economic palliatives made unnecessary. The new education. A new financial system.
X. A People's Social Reform Ministry
Planners who would serve humanity. Mobilisation of Idealism
and it’s practical application. How the genius of the race may
be mobilised to serve humanity.
XI. How You Can Serve NOW 161
The Divine Origin of the British Common Law 167
The Constitution of the People's Common Law 189 Parliament.
All biblical quotations are selected from Ferrar Fenton's translations direct from the original Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek.
I will also give them a united heart, and a united course, and they
!will reverence me continually to their own benefit, and their
children's after them, I will then record an everlasting Covenant
with them—that I will not cease following them with benefits; I
also shall delight to benefit them. . . . And it shall be a monument
of delight and beauty, as formerly to every nation of the earth,
when they hear all the benefits that I will confer upon them, and
tremble with excitement at all the prosperity and peace which I
will confer upon it! . . . I
Declare to the nations, and publish, and set up a standard! Publish it—hide not.
During the years between the first and second world wars half the population of the United Kingdom lived in poverty, one quarter were undernourished, a slightly lesser number suffered from deficiency diseases, and seventy-five per cent, of recruits for H.M. Forces were rejected as medically unfit.
But very few people felt any sense of personal responsibility for this condition. Less than twenty per cent, of the population took an active interest in politics and only sixty per cent, of voters used their franchise. There was little or no conception of a common social responsibility, or a common national purpose to direct the activities of the State to secure the peace, security, and happiness of the people.
Let us be frank about our social sins.
It required a war and the night raider to awaken our dormant sense of individual social responsibility. Now we are willing to give our services in the Home Guard and in the A.R.P. to protect the lives we had ignored in the days of peace.
It is now popular to talk and write about war and peace
aims and the need for a common national purpose. We
realise that a united effort is necessary for us to win the war.
A united purpose is necessary for us to win the peace. Many
people are writing and speaking about British peace aims
which will provide us with a "Sixth Column" and succeed
where our propaganda and diplomacy have failed in obtain
ing the support of governments and peoples.
We need a new national purpose: a policy so just and honest that our integrity is unquestioned and which will win the confidence and support of peoples of all nations to win the war with us, that we may work together to build a new world, a world which will be more secure and desirable
12 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
than anything which the National Socialism of Germany can offer.
Sir Wyndham Deedes of the Ministry of Information wrote in London9s Awake of January 8, 1941:
4The victory to be won in this war is a 'moral' one. But to achieve a moral victory, social, political, and ethical issues must be faced. In this field the 'State' has to tread warily, for it raises questions about which opinions greatly differ. The 'voluntary' organisations are in no sense trammelled. They can say what they please. And owing to the position they occupy in society, their preaching will not, I opine, be made in vain. Just as they originated the Social Services, which have been taken over by the State, so now let them evolve a policy of social justice. If something new of this kind does not come out of this war, to what end is it being fought?"
The Government will not, or cannot, evolve a policy of
just peace aims. So the people must do it. Almost every
week a book or a manifesto is published, or conferences are
held by religious bodies or the laity, expounding policies on
peace aims. Each has its own particular bias—atheistic,
religious, monetary, intellectual, political, or social reform
under national or international headings. In my study I
have over thirty books and manifestos representing every
shade of intellectual, religious, and class opinion. All claim
that their particular scheme is the only one which will pro-
vide a lasting peace and social justice, except those who
suggest that all reformers should try to find a policy on
which all can agree. This suggestion usually created one
more cause for dissension. Sir Wyndnam Deedes says
“opinions greatly differ." But do they?
All these schemes and policies have'been drawn up to
prevent poverty, to remove the causes of war, and to build
a happier and more secure world The principles which
underlie the various schemes are in all cases similar.
Dissensions arise only when reformers try to give expression
to principles in detailed plans for their operation in social life.
International and national financial and commercial
combines to maintain their monopolies and safeguard their private interests, will use their vast powers to prevent the social and economic reforms on which the peace and security of the world depend. Their private interests are diametrically opposed to the common interests of the peoples of the world. Vested interests are united in their determination to maintain the principles of competition and freedom to exploit nations and peoples for power and profit, but the good will of the world is disunited by the variety of its plans for removing these evils. This is one of the main reasons why human decency has been helpless and evil all-powerful. A united public opinion is essential to break the power of evil and cause right to be done.
The real problems of post-war reconstruction are not those of devising plans—many are available and many are right and sound, but they are incapable of uniting the people. No desirable major reform will be established without a strong public demand, but undesirable changes can and are imposed on an uninformed and divided people. The problem is to find a policy which will educate and unite the people on a right course of action. When this problem is solved public opinion will become irresistible and be able to bring about any reform it desires.
This problem is one which has confounded most reformers. It is easier to devise a scheme of reform than to devise and carry out a policy of public action which will cause it to be put into effect. But this difficulty must be tackled if peace and justice are to be established in the world when the slaughter is over.
The purpose of this book is to show how this problem may be solved. We offer our proposals after years of experiment and preparation, which involved visits to the homes of over a quarter of a million people in this and other countries. We have said that disunity in the ranks of reformers is caused by the variety of their detailed plans for reconstruction, but they agree on the principles which underlie their plans and their purpose to prevent poverty and war. Before a
I4 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
plan can be put into effect the Government must make laws defining its purpose and controlling its operation.
If reformers agreed that the principles which unite them, rather than the plans which cause dissension, were first made the Law of the land the objects which their plans are designed to accomplish would be guaranteed by the power of the State. If the people were given the opportunity to choose a set of simple principles to be expressed in Laws supporting common justice and human need, and prohibiting the things which hurt them, they would give almost unanimous support. This claim is not a conjecture but a fact proved by careful experiment.
It is the right of a democratic people to make known the principles which should govern their lives, and it is the duty of Parliament to find the plans or call in experts to help to put them into effect. Let us cease to quarrel over the details of peace aims and reforms. The winning of the peace depends upon democracy making known the principles which shall provide the foundation and the purpose of postwar national policy. A public demand that the principles of common justice are made supreme Law would make it obligatory upon the State to pursue that policy and to establish the necessary reforms.
We have found that a public demand for legislation expressing the natural laws of simple justice, which define the rights and duties of the people, and which prohibits evil and safeguards right, not only unites the people but also provides a new basis for mutual trust, and a common aim which removes political and class dissension. When this policy was placed before the people of Coventry, and other cities, its simplicity and honesty of purpose won their confidence and support immediately.
Moral-civic laws of this nature would provide the nation with a constitutional purpose. The lack of such legal definition has left the people at the mercy of political, commercial, and international groups who have exploited their need for political and monetary gain.
Our "unwritten" Common Law provides the foundation for that which we have in mind.1
During the last two hundred years our legislators and the judgments of the King's Courts have ignored or perverted the intention of Common Law. It must be vindicated. It must become a supreme "written" Law binding upon Parliament, defining our national purpose and protecting the freedom, security, health, peace, and happiness of the people. The common needs—the rights of man—would then cease to be subject to the fortunes of political conflicts and would be placed beyond the reach of human malversation.
In the year 1937 we placed these principles and this policy before the people of Coventry in the form of a Petition to His Majesty the King. The Petition asked for the appointment of a judicial court to conduct an investigation into the causes of poverty and war and to recommend to the House of Commons reforms based upon these principles. Every house in the city was visited. Ninety-three per cent, of the voters gave their support, including the clergy of all denominations.
It might be suggested that the people signed the Petition without understanding what it involved. This was not the case. Study groups were formed in many districts. Meetings were held in local factories, church halls, and at trade union branches throughout the city. A special train carried the petitioners to London, where the Mayor of Coventry led a deputation of Aldermen, Councillors, clergy, and business men at the head of a procession of 2500 people to the Home Office, where the Petition was lodged.
The following grievances of the citizens of Coventry, and their charges of violation of Common Law and the Christian principle underlying the British Constitution by Parliamentary enactments and financial practices, were signed by the Mayor of Coventry, and lodged with the Petition, to be placed at a later date before a judicial court:
"Unwritten" is a legal expression which gives an incorrect impression to the lay mind. See Chapter Six.
16 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
The Coventry Petition to His Majesty the King represents the opinion of all types and conditions of people in this city, the number of which is two-thirds greater than usually registers at a general election.
Every householder, clergymen of all communions, and the officials of organisations within the city were questioned on the essential points outlined in the petition: and it was their almost unanimous opinion that the King should be asked to institute a judicial inquiry into the law concerning money, both in regard as to what it is and its effect upon the economic, social, and spiritual life of the nation, and what it ought to be.
I. The Petition as a Matter of Conscience
The Petitioners feel that their support of the Petition is dictated by conscience, and they are advised that the Judges must consider the questions raised in the light not only of the law, but of conscience.
Petitioners do not wish to be generous with other people's property:
nor do they beg for charity. They say that this nation is rich in all material resources necessary to its well-being, therefore the nation must be permitted to work upon these resources so as to utilise, preserve, and increase them. Because the nation can secure its well-being by producing wealth, it is the duty of the nation to do so. And the first step to that, is to examine the cause of the present circumstances where the means to wealth and the men to utilise them exist side by side but are kept artificially apart.
It will thus be seen that the general human conscience would demand the inquiry and reforms prayed for by the Petition. But the demand would also seem to be in conformity with the specifically Christian conscience as.outlined in the Statement appended to the Petition and agreed upon by an increasing number of clergy and laity of all communions; and in particular with the objects of the Movement which is responsible for the Petition.
These Christian Social objects are:
No man woman, or child shall suffer insecurity or poverty whilst there are available actual or potential resources to meet their needs.
Whilst any subject of the Realm needs food, warmth, or shelter, the curtailment of supplies by restriction of production or distribution; or by the destruction of actual goods; or by high prices or high taxation or inadequate incomes; or by the restriction of money supplies, shall be made illegal.
To hasten the growth of a true Christian Social Order in which God's Plan of fellowship and co-operation between men can be made manifest.
To provide security, liberty, and opportunity for all men and women to enrich the State by the development of their personalities and their spiritual and intellectual attributes.
To ensure that Christian facts and human need shall receive the first consideration of our legislators;
Human life is sacred. It shall cease to be made subservient to monetary expediency or to industrial or commercial exploitation. It is necessary that these institutions shall be reformed to serve human life in its highest capacity.
2. The Petition
It is the opinion of the majority of the Citizens of Coventry that Parliament is so completely occupied with the task of devising measures to keep the economic wheels turning from day to day that it has no time to go into the general mechanics of the system and to devise those reforms so necessary to the well-being and security of the nation. It is for this reason that the Petition is addressed to the King. It is not the intention of the Petitioners to attempt to override Parliament, but to cause to be instituted a judicial committee which can command evidence and recommendations from experts who claim that the necessary reforms can be made to abolish poverty in the midst of plenty and to remove the economic causes of war; and to place such recommendations before Parliament for its consideration after they have been thoroughly examined by experts qualified to judge their practicability.
There is an abundance of all commodities necessary for man's well-being, and reason forbids that their distribution is beyond the intelligence of man.
The cause of this maldistribution of the nation's abundance remains unexplored. The effects resulting from it have grown
18 A PEOPLE'S RUNNYMEDE
to such proportions in the way of bankruptcies, suicides, unemployment, and recurring trade stagnation that it has become imperative to examine the question with a view to immediate adjustment.
The present monetary system has led to intensive industrial and agricultural activity during the time of war and preparation for war; but during times of peace it fails to divert into creative and productive activities the energies which have been devoted to the purpose of destruction.