QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, I really appreciate you are a student of law. I believe you should also write a book on the evolution of law for your understanding from the role of King Solomon on to our modern system deserves recognition. You seem to trace the fall of the rule of law and government is linked to the concentration of power into a centralized state. You have attributed the collapse of communism to that inability of a central power to adapt to the demanding conditions of the economic evolution of society. Would you care to comment on this development of centralized power and its critical role in the collapse of western society by 2032?
Thank you for your very enlightening research.
ANSWER: The evolution of the rule of law is fascinating. The biblical account of King Solomon presiding over two women in dispute over a child goes over the heads of most people. Solomon’s duty as king was the center of that account. The king’s role was to stand as impartial ruler between disputes. If you killed someone in ancient Greece, the family was to be the prosecutor — not the state. The only crimes that warranted a state trial were those against the gods or directly against the state as the victim. Hence, Socrates offended the state by corrupting the youth and stating his position that there was really just one god.
Many have disagreed with Benjamin Jowett (1817 – 1893), who was a professor at the University of Oxford who translated the complete works of Plato into English. They argue that Jowett was a prominent theologian and he translated the Greek words θεός (theós), meaning “a god” or “a deity,” and δαίμων (daímōn), meaning “divine being,” as “God” with a capital G whenever possible. The criticism of Jowett’s translation making Plato and Socrates into Proto-Christians is itself based upon prejudice.
The Greek gods were NEVER represented as pagan gods insofar as they were the creators of humankind or the universe. To the Greeks, in the beginning, there was only chaos. Then out of the void appeared Erebus, the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night. All else was empty, silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love was born and brought a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea, the earth appeared. Clearly, the criticism that Jowett interpreted the Greek in view of Christianity is not correct.
Socrates did not believe in the Greek gods as creators of anything because he believed in “the Good” nature of humans. Some argue that you can believe in “the Good” while still believing in the gods. This centers on the misinterpretation of the very role of the Greek gods. They were viewed more as super-beings which we could call saints insofar as each had a specific role. Poseidon was god of the sea, earthquakes, storms, and horses and is considered one of the worst tempered, moody, and greedy Olympian gods. He was known to be vengeful when insulted.
Socrates was accused at his trial of teaching people not to worship the gods of the state. That was considered a crime against the gods, which made it a state offense. In the Apology of Socrates, Plato relays that Socrates said in the opening remarks of his speech to the jury that his accusers “… have scarcely spoken a word of truth at all.” The rest of the Apology and all Plato’s other dialogues seem to support this statement. They were against Socrates for the Oracle of Delphi had said he was the smartest man in all of Greece and made many appear to be fools. By the end of Socrates’s speech in the Apology, Plato makes it very clear that Socrates is, in fact, a very pious man who honors the gods of the state, holds the god Apollo in high esteem, and who trusts the word of the Delphic Oracle. The charges were clearly made up to be against the gods for there were no other means to go against Socrates.
We only arrive at the corruption of the law with Magna Carts in England. The king was fining people as a revenue source and here we find the demand for a trial by jury rather than by the king. In order to keep the revenue stream flowing, this is where we see the development of the violation of “disturbing the peace” of the king. Suddenly, two people get into an argument and fight. The king interjects himself as a victim for these two people disturbed his peace. From there on, the rule of law becomes perverted as a means of raising revenue for the king. If you kill someone, it is no longer the family who is the victim, it becomes the king. The penalty becomes death and that conveniently means all your assets are forfeited to the king and your family is thrown out onto the streets.
One of the most notorious English judges of all time was Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, (1645–1689), who was the man that inspired the English Bill of Rights in 1689 and the insertion of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause that became the Eighth Amendment in the United States. He is best known for the “Bloody Assizes.” Jeffreys created judicial murder routinely and took pleasure in doing so. He issued harsh sentences to nearly all defendants and in a protest against taxation and abuse of government, he ordered about 300 to be executed, and between 800 and 900 he ordered to be transported to the West Indies as convict laborers. On September 18-19th, 1685, Jeffreys alone sentenced 144 people to death earning him the notorious nickname “the hanging judge.”
Charles Hibbert in his work, the Roots of Evil, quotes from one of the court transcripts, on Christmas Day no less, when Jeffreys ordered:
“Hangman, I charge you to pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge her soundly, man; scourge her till her blood runs down! It is Christmas, a cold time for madam to strip. See that you warm her shoulders thoroughly.”
Roots of Evil. 1963 Ed p29
The British legal system was so corrupt that the slightest offense, even stealing an apple, resulted in the arrest and being sold into indentured servitude, all to profit the government. As Hibbert reported the sentence imposed read:
“Because you have committed this offence, the sentence of the court is that you shall no longer be burdened with the support of your wife and family. You shall be immediately removed from a very bad climate and a country overburdened with people to one of the finest regions of the earth where demand for human labour is every hour increasing and where it is highly probable you may ultimately regain your character and improve your future.” (Roots of Evil, p145)
Ever since the rule of law has been so perverted that it has devolved into simply legal and political persecution. Whenever you allow the political state to move into a centralized power, that is when justice merely becomes the will of the government, regardless of the form of government. Socrates believed in “the Good” of the people and he paid with his life for that mistake. Plato recorded a debate between Socrates and Thrasymachus. It was Thrasymachus who argued correctly that it did not matter the form of government. Once you allow a government to become centralized and thus powerful, justice ceases to exist.
Edward Gibbon in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote of the Roman Emperor Commodus and the collapse in the rule of law:
“Each distinction of every kind soon became criminal. The possession of wealth stimulated the diligence of the informers; rigid virtue implied a tacit censure of the irregularities of Commodus; important services implied a dangerous superiority of merit; and the friendship of the father always insured the aversion of the son. Suspicion was equivalent to proof; trial to condemnation. The execution of a considerable senator was attended with the death of all who might lament or revenge his fate; and when Commodus had once tasted human blood, he became incapable of pity or remorse”
(Book 1, Chapter 4).
Hence the saying: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely!”
The rule of law has collapsed in Western society. They say God created the 10 Commandments, which we have translated into a billion laws. The greater the regulation, the greater the injustice. The very purpose of civilization ceases to exist because it merely becomes a contest between two philosophies with the left always seeking to suppress the right who simply wants to be free. This is ultimately why all governments are buried in a common grave dug by history.