Common-Law Conservatism

WordBridge Publishing
Free sample

American conservatism is in need of a rethink. What else could explain its ongoing weakness in the face of the rather lame if not incredulous critiques of capitalism and liberty put forward by the Left? There is in fact a congenital defect in conservatism, derived from its "Whiggish" origins. For in its formative period, it imbibed the heady elixir of natural rights as a neutral alternative to a confessional Christian basis for law and government. That is a choice that has dogged conservatism ever since. It explains the incapacity to dislodge the Left from its occupation of the moral high ground in public debate and policy. Conservatism must re-examine its foundations and rediscover the idea of liberty as inheritance, or it will remain the plaything of progressive-leaning elites. Common-Law Conservatism provides just such an examination. It is a critique from the bottom up, examining the spheres of politics, economics, and religion by means of a cutting-edge paradigm integrating historical and theoretical elements in a universal common-law unity. For the common law, the inheritance of Western liberty, provides the materials to move beyond the dead end of rights philosophies that are destroying liberty - destroying national sovereignty - nullifying attempts to establish law and order domestically and peace through strength abroad - upending the moral order upon which civilization rests - demanding the establishment of all-powerful energy management regimes - indeed, incessantly pushing for an all-powerful world government based on the concept of universal jurisdiction, which is an ethical necessity for the Left, as it is the only means to realizing what in reality is an unfulfillable promise: the satiation of the entitlement mentality, which the rights philosophies have bequeathed to us. Common-Law Conservatism is not an easy read, nor is it meant to be. It is no rehash of conservative talking points. It is a fundamental, root-and-branch rethink. Which is, at bottom, the crying need of our time.
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Publisher
WordBridge Publishing
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Published on
Sep 30, 2007
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Pages
112
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ISBN
9789076660066
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Common
Law / Natural Law
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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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.

The Best Edition of this Classic History: A Comprehensive Legal History of England from the Anglo-Saxon Period through the 19th Century. Theodore Frank Thomas Plucknett [1897-1965] received his LL.B. from the University of Cambridge in 1920. He was a Fellow of the British Academy, Professor of Legal History, University of London, and Assistant Professor of Legal History at Harvard University. He was also the author of Early English Legal Literature (1958) and Edward I and Criminal Law (1960). "Professor Plucknett has such a solid reputation on both sides of the Atlantic that one expects from his pen only what is scholarly and accurate... Nor is the expectation likely to be disappointed in this book. Plucknett's book is not...a mere epitome of what is to be found elsewhere. He has explored on his own account many regions of legal history and, even where the ground has been already quartered, he has fresh methods of mapping it. The title which he has chosen is, in view of the contents of the volume, rather a narrow one. It might equally well have been A Concise History of English Law... In conjunction with Readings on the History and System of the Common Law by Dean Pound...this book will give an excellent grounding to the student of English legal history." --Percy H. Winfield. Harvard Law Review 43 (1929-30) 339-340. "[T]his book, comprehensive yet not elementary, clear yet inviting further study on the part of the reader, remains an excellent introduction to legal history and the study of law."-- Harvard Law Review 50 (1937-38) 1012. SELECTED CONTENTS BOOK ONE A General Survey of Legal History Part I The Crown and the State Part II The Courts and the Profession Part III Some Factors in Legal History Book TWO Special Part Part I Procedure Part II Crime and Tort Part III Real Property Part IV Contract Part V Equity Part VI Succession Index
The early American legal system permeated the lives of colonists and reflected their sense of what was right and wrong, honorable and dishonorable, moral and immoral. In a compelling book full of the extraordinary stories of ordinary people, Elaine Forman Crane reveals the ways in which early Americans clashed with or conformed to the social norms established by the law. As trials throughout the country reveal, alleged malefactors such as witches, wife beaters, and whores, as well as debtors, rapists, and fornicators, were as much a part of the social landscape as farmers, merchants, and ministers. Ordinary people "made" law by establishing and enforcing informal rules of conduct. Codified by a handshake or over a mug of ale, such agreements became custom and custom became "law." Furthermore, by submitting to formal laws initiated from above, common folk legitimized a government that depended on popular consent to rule with authority.

In this book we meet Marretie Joris, a New Amsterdam entrepreneur who sues Gabriel de Haes for calling her a whore; peer cautiously at Christian Stevenson, a Bermudian witch as bad "as any in the world;" and learn that Hannah Dyre feared to be alone with her husband—and subsequently died after a beating. We travel with Comfort Taylor as she crosses Narragansett Bay with Cuff, an enslaved ferry captain, whom she accuses of attempted rape, and watch as Samuel Banister pulls the trigger of a gun that kills the sheriff's deputy who tried to evict Banister from his home. And finally, we consider the promiscuous Marylanders Thomas Harris and Ann Goldsborough, who parented four illegitimate children, ran afoul of inheritance laws, and resolved matters only with the assistance of a ghost. Through the six trials she skillfully reconstructs here, Crane offers a surprising new look at how early American society defined and punished aberrant behavior, even as it defined itself through its legal system.

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