A Common Law: The Law of Nations and Western Civilization, Second Edition

WordBridge Publishing
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It is no secret that Western civilization is under siege. Outside the gates, the world demands a share of the wealth as well as the power that the West enjoys. Inside the gates, the Western way of life is challenged by those who demand fundamental change in the direction of social justice.

Upon closer inspection, Western civilization evinces a divergence within itself. It proves to comprise two blocs, with opposing agendas and opposing ideologies. The one bloc is located within the Anglo-American orbit, the other within the orbit of Continental Europe.

This explains the drive toward European Union. The EU gives formal shape to this ideological coherence among the Continental European nations.

By the same token, it explains the drive toward “Brexit” in the United Kingdom, the UK being part of the Anglo-American orbit.

This perspective opens the door to understanding the dynamic of global politics. Far from being a case of the “West versus the Rest,” the global political dynamic is driven by this divergence within Western civilization itself. The drive toward global governance, universal jurisdiction, the normalization of the sexual revolution, the climate change agenda, are all expressions, not of the rest of the world, but of the West, and within the West, of the Continental European bloc.

As such, this is a question of how we are to understand the law of nations: what is sovereignty, and where is it located?

This also explains why the USA inevitably stands in the way of the Continental European agenda. Its tradition, its ideology, is fundamentally other, and the two cannot be reconciled.

This also explains unrelenting anti-Americanism even in the USA itself, propagated by media, academia, even political parties. The ideological split runs right through American society itself, weakening it from within. For the one tradition is home-grown, the other is imported.

How are we to explain this divergence? Where did these two opposing orientations come from? What more can be said about their conflict, and what will be the result of it?

These are the questions raised in A Common Law. Published on the 20th anniversary of the first edition, this second edition includes the first edition in its entirety, and supplements it with running commentary as well as additional material bringing the issues forward to the situation post-2016.

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WordBridge Publishing
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Published on
Sep 1, 2019
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History / Civilization
Law / Constitutional
Law / International
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Eligible for Family Library

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 At the dawn of the modern age a debate took place which would determine the further course of Western and thus world civilization. This debate did not take place in any assembly or debating chamber. It took place in the hearts and minds of the trend-setting intelligentsia of the day.

Two figures engaged in this debate, acting as signposts at the crossroads which materialized in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when a decision loomed and a path had not yet irrevocably been embarked upon. They functioned at the time and place destined to be the stage upon which this decision would become apparent: in and around the Dutch Republic in its struggle for freedom from the Spanish monarchy. They shared the same inheritance, constraints, and influences; the one fashioned it in a way that proved a resounding success which would be received as orthodoxy, the framework of right-thinking people for centuries to come; the other in a way that, although offering a coherent and constructive alternative, languished in obscurity, only in our day receiving renewed interest from the scattered flock of academics and churchmen (and women) who either make the knowledge of such things their business, or share a wistfulness for and inkling of this world we have lost.

The one is Hugo Grotius, world renowned, the so-called “Father of International Law.” Although the appropriateness of such an appellation has been drawn into well-deserved doubt in our time, what should not be in doubt is the paradigmatic role his work played in the course of our civilization. Grotius fashioned the synthesis of the socio-political-legal-constitutional materials, the harvest of centuries of scholarship, into the familiar modern shape, which this book will explore in extenso. It is his path that was chosen, his seed which has now reached harvest time.

The other is Johannes Althusius, forgotten by the Enlightenment but restored to honor in the 19th century by the German “revivalist” of associationalism Otto von Gierke. Althusius drew on the same source materials as Grotius to fashion his own synthesis of political, legal, and constitutional thought, a synthesis which then fell into abeyance as its competitor synthesis triumphed, but which in our day has enjoyed a renaissance that promises a theoretical renewal of our understanding of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

These two men encapsulate the conflict of Western civilization. The path of the one was taken, the path of the other eschewed, the path of rationalist individualism instead of the path of communitarian associationalism, the path of Grotius instead of the path of Althusius. It is their achievements which are elucidated in this book.

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