Freemen of the Land: A Barrister Writes Again


by F. Gibbons

I’ve just noticed the comment some way above by suedenimon, which strikes me as extremely bizarre indeed.

‘…I find it very difficult to square the logic that ANY barrister can actually lay claim to being a libertarian unless it is done in the same way as wearing a fashion item like a Prada handbag to proclaim ones credentials to be in ‘the’ set!, for barristers are almost to a person inclined heavily towards the conservative, though I do allow that singularly unsuccessful ones who are unable to put forward cogent arguments and thus fail miserably to impress ‘chambers’ into giving them work may pretend to be libertarian to impress others who do not take the time or trouble to think for themselves.’

This is a completely outdated and cartoonish view of the Bar that is undoubtedly shaped by nothing more than fantasy and watching far too many period dramas. I, for one, know many members of the Bar (and of my own Chambers) who range from everything from conservatives, to liberals, to socialists, to communists and beyond. There are some sets that are completely dedicated to left-wing law and politics: take a look at leading chambers Garden Court (http://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/) and Doughty Street (http://www.doughtystreet.co.uk/) and their members’ profiles if you don’t believe me. Loads of chambers have dedicated asylum, immigration and human rights teams that are far from conservative, and some chambers are almost entirely dedicated to the practise of such law (for appellants as opposed to the state). Yes, many sets are conservative too, but the strength of your statement above is an extreme exaggeration to the point of absurdity.

‘If Mr Gibbons were to hand such rubbish in at court he would be disbarred and thrown out of the Law Society pretty damn sharpish I would think, if not slung into the cells for contempt (disturbing the proceedings of the court).’

Please. This doesn’t even make sense. Barristers aren’t even regulated by the Law Society.

In my initial comments, where I sought to warn laymen off copying Mr Barry’s behaviour in the video, I expressed a genuine view that such behaviour was likely to see people convicted of contempt of court. I can see that some supporters of the FoL movement have taken this as some sort of insult as opposed to the genuine, practical experience of someone who practises in these courts regularly and knows how judges apply the law there. As such, on both threads, I’ve been met with quite some venom as well as personal insults, which I hasten to add I have not made against anyone else on either of these threads.

That said, if some people are simply approaching this debate from the childish viewpoint that all barristers are ultra-conservative monsters incapable of independent thought, purely by virtue of their profession, I suppose there is little chance of any actual discussion, sans name calling and insults.

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24 responses to “Freemen of the Land: A Barrister Writes Again

  1. Please note that I also posted quite a few other recent comments before I posted the one above. In them, I addressed a few issues regarding to magistrates’ court video and the FoL movement directly. See here (scroll to the bottom of the thread): http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/freemen-of-the-land-a-barrister-writes/

  2. I like the thing about admiralty law; because you’re in a “dock”, it’s something to do with the sea.

    There’s a curious thing I’ve found, that the more wrong something is, the harder it is to debunk. If somebody is slightly wrong, it’s normally quite easy to explain why. When somebody is very very wrong, it’s often quite hard to explain why, because you’re just left with “that isn’t true, and that isn’t true, and that isn’t true”, and then they ask for some proof of that and there isn’t any because nobody has ever previously bothered to state why it’s wrong.

    LIke, if somebody says “the electron has a positive electric charge” you can show lots of references stating that the electron actually has a negative charge. If somebody says, “electrons are made of cheese”, it’s very hard finding an authoritative reference stating that they aren’t.

  3. The problem, I think, is the inability to see that the laws of a country are whatever the authorities can get away with insisting they are. It doesn’t matter what the original intention or early modern interpretation may have been of Magna Carta, or any other constitutional document. Their meaning now is not to get in the way of power as the authorities choose to exercise it.

  4. As for all this Admiralty jurisdiction stuff, and claims about legal and personal identity, I have a reasonable knowledge of English law and English constitutional history, and I agree that it’s hard to know where to begin with a refutation.

    This being said, if enough people come to believe there are fundamental laws that cannot be changed, that may eventually become a constitutional fact. English law was far less “whiggish” at the death of Elizabeth than it was by 1639. Changes in legal and public openion had forced the authorities to back down in fact from many positions that were taken for granted only a generation before.

    For this reason, the FotL movement may not be the bizarre cult that is often appears to be.

  5. C H Ingoldby

    The FotL movement is highly cultish. It demands belief and faith in nonsensical falsehoods and treats opposing points of view as heresy.

    It is so bizarre that it just repels people. It is a highly counterproductive movement and if Libertarianism comes to be associated with it, it will be damaging for Libertarianism.

    Leave the loonies well alone.

  6. The Freeman are out there taking risks, trying to do something while most Libertarians shine the arse on their trousers peddling electronic pessimism.

    As for Mr Ingoldby’s point about “damaging” Libertarianism–I can’t remember if it was Brian Micklethwait or Chris Tame who once said that something was “about as important as a cork bobbing up and down in the mid-Atlantic”. That is about as much effect as Libertarianism is having on the political scum

  7. C H Ingoldby

    I love the continued claims that the ‘Freemen’ are actually doing anything at all.

    All they ever do is repeat their nonsense to each other in their echo chamber forums and occasionally making fake lying claims to have successfully avoided paying tax, despite not having done so and never providing any evidence whatsoever.

    The ‘Freemen’ have not advanced liberty by one iota. Their argument is incoherent and factually wrong and their behavious simply attracts ridicule.

    In contrast, at the very least, the Libertarians are presenting an actually coherent and reasoned set of principles which do actually influence peoples political thinking in the real world.

  8. Name one law that Libertarians have got rid of.
    Name one piece of oppression that is down the pan because of Libertarians.

  9. C H Ingoldby

    The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

  10. C H Ingoldby

    Actual Libertarians actually informing a debate and making an actual difference.

    As opposed to ‘Freemen’ who claim they don’t have to pay their council taxes and end up with the bailiffs at the door….

  11. SOPA has been replaced by CISPA which now only has to get past the Senate. O’Scumma has said he will veto it but he said that about indefinate detention.

    Try again

  12. C H Ingoldby

    What a weak retort!

    A bill is put forward which would have grossly squeezed the liberty of the internet. It is knocked out purely because of Libertarian inspired objections and you tell me to ‘try again’! haha!

    Why don’t you tell us about all those great ‘Freeman’ triumphs. You know thwe ones I mean, the really big ones, those ones that never actually relate to any actual real people or real cases, those ones that are always vague anecdotes relating to a friend of a friend of a friend.

    ‘Freeman’ are losers making fantasy legal arguments and making themselves a laughing stock while achieving absolutely nothing. Libertarians are putting forth intellectually coherent arguments and influencing peoples thinking and the political debate.

    Its a matter of grown up Libertarians making their arguments versus screaming toddler ‘Freemen’ throwing their toys out of the pram.

  13. Scrapping of ID Cards and ContactPoint.

  14. I just wrote a nice reply to Ingoldby at some length and the poxy comments system has deleted it –which it seems to do with anything of more than a paragraph.

    So, in brief:

    Ingoldby–you’re an idiot

    Ian B: I will try to compose a reply in as few words as possible in another comment.

    • The comment system has been playing up for ages. I suggest you compose longer comments in MSWord or something and then cut and paste them in. That lets you try again if it fails the first time.

  15. IanB:

    The Tories kept their promise about ID cards for several reasons.(I am not denying the good work done by Guy Herbert and No2id–but it was not all their doing)

    1-The card was v unpopular. Large numbers of people, myself included, would have been refuseniks–prob several million. Enough to jam up the courts for years and create even greater hatred for the state. I have no doubt that they would not have been able to have forced the card onto everybody. It would have been very very expensive to try.
    2-The card was Bliar’s personal edict. I believe that the EU was not keen on his plan. I am sure that such a nasty and intrusive scheme was just what they love and ultimately plan for everybody in Europe but they didn’t want it bungled because of Bliars ego-based haste. The last thing the Eurotrash want is a failed ID scheme that serves as a warning to others and a beacon of defiance. The essence of the EU is gradual creeping tyranny not a confrontation with those who won’t submit.Isolate the refusers, cut their numbers down until there are just a few deviants who can be mopped up easily because the majority don’t care. Why fight an vast and expensive battle when you can just wait 25 or 30 years for those who remember freedom to die off?. The children of today are already being fingerprinted so they can get poxy school dinners. When that lot “grow up” they will accept ID cards that want to know the size of their dicks let alone the info wanted by Bliar.If the EU had wanted the ID plan to continue–if, say, it had been their idea instead of Saint Phony’s ego-trip, then the Boy From Metaluna (This Island Earth–giant forehead -geddit?) would still be carrying it through.

  16. So basically any time a libertarian-aligned argument wins the day, it’s not really because of that but because the EU didn’t want the thing anyway. Okay.

    The problem is that up against such logic, nothing myself or CH Ingoldby presents to you can be a libertarian “win”, since it will always be just a coincidence, because X was going to not happen anway. You have one of those theories that Karl Popper complained about, that explains everything, and thus nothing.

    I also doubt that the State has much fear of refuseniks these days. The idea that the State fears the courts getting clogged is extremely naive. It doesn’t work that way. It picks off individuals and makes an example of them, or just makes life impossible without compliance. Once you can’t get a job, a bank account, a home, etc, without an ID Card, people will comply.

  17. C H Ingoldby

    Still waiting to hear of any of those wonderful ‘Freeman’ successes……..

    Libertarian ideas are having an impact on the world. ‘Freeman’ ideas, when they are even noticed, are quite literally laughed out of court.

    I gues that noticing that makes me an idiot ;)

  18. So your idea of Libertarianism is to blather about how powerless we are in the face of the state–as your last paragraph above shows- while at the same time positing that libertarian “argument” has somehow swayed the almighty state–which has no fear of those who defy it–to give up their evil schemes. If they are not frightened of outright refusal, why should they give a rat’s backside about hot air that, for the most part, they don’t even listen to. Logic?

    I said that Guy Herbert and No2id did very good work indeed and also many others, including many civil libertarians as well as full on Libertarians. It may be that all that dissuasion had some effect on the Tories (it seems to have none on ZaNuLab who still support the idea) and they decided it might be a popular move and went ahead with cancelation before senior civil service scum put the frightners on them and they started mass u-turning. As I said–I don’t believe that–but it may well be true.That and the projected costs and total computing disaster widely expected–altho’ those things aren’t stopping them any more.

    “So basically any time a libertarian-aligned argument wins the day, it’s not really because of that but “–never said that. I believe that the political scum don’t listen to, or care about, ANY arguments that gainsay what they want UNLESS there is a threat (or possibly an incentive) of some sort backing that argument. If millions of people grew tired of the anti-smoking bullshit and took action that would stop it. The problem is that most don’t.

    My original point was that, right or wrong (I don’t accept that what they are about is wrong) the Freemen are doing something. What they get from some on this blog is smug,withering, snobbish,know -it-all, contempt. Are the Freemen going to bring us into disrepute? What fucking repute do we have that we should worry about it being dis’ed?. Where is our standing so high that a political about-face, from oppression to freedom, is immanent (and thus imperiled by the “antics” of the Freemen)?.Is Ingoldby in talk’s with the Establishment and they are just having a bit of a think before they declare that all those nasty laws are history and it’s now 1960 again in terms of individual freedom? If you can tell me when and where this miracle wrought by argument is happening I will start the celebrations right away.

    Nothing personal if that seems a trifle strident.

  19. Comments system has removed the IanB at the top of my last comment.

  20. Ecks-

    . If they are not frightened of outright refusal, why should they give a rat’s backside about hot air that, for the most part, they don’t even listen to. Logic?

    Because those two things aren’t incompatible, if you’d stop and think for a moment. The State has well developed mechanisms for dealing with non-compliance. Thus, non-compliance is not a good strategy, unless you want to indulge in futilely getting your ass kicked. However, we are still a democracy, and parties need votes. Thus, if they perceive that votes can be won by offering some liberty, they will do so. Thus, the perception by the Tories of widespread libertarian disapproval of ID Cards and ContactPoint influenced their manifesto choices.

    The State is too powerful these days to refuse, or ignore, and its mechanisms too well developed to crumble under patchy outbreaks of refusenikism. So gaining any ground involves influencing policy makers. Authoritarians know this and have become very good at wielding influence.

    The Freemen are certainly “doing something”. Hitting yourself on the head repeatedly with a heavy plank is “doing something”. It is not however doing something constructive, and that is what counts.

    In general. I am always saying that we need to remember that we live in history, not at the end of it (which is a commonplace perception). To future historians, we are living in the middle of historical processes, which they will analyse and discuss. If we think of Englishmen in 1912, they could not have imagined the changes that would occur in their near future. They were still living in the dying embers of the Victorian Era, under certainties which must have seemed eternal and concrete to them, which were subsequently rapidly swept away. We are now living in the dying embers of the 20th century, and the paradigm we live under is creaking under new pressures. It may be as suddenly swept away as 1912 Man’s paradigm was.

    What matters when such convulsive change occurs is what ideas are circulating in the society’s discourse, as the society scrambles for a new paradigm. Libertarianism provides a paradigm. It may seem hopelessly ignored at the moment. But we shall see what transpires.

    It at least offers a more coherent philosophy than a bunch of made up arguments about the law, which were never true and will thus never be taken seriously. Because it is a philosophy.

    What have Libertarians achieved? Not much, not under the 20th century paradigm of centralised State action. But perhaps future historians will record that the few Libertarians who kept the flame alive, ultimately paved the way for a great triumph. Perhaps they will record that the 21st century was the one when, after the convulsion, liberty was finally established.

    We shall have to wait and see.

  21. Works for me (Opera Browser, Windows 7).

    It’s worth just copying one’s missive to the clipboard before posting, just in case it screws up.

  22. C H Ingoldby

    Indeed, Liberatarianism is a coherent intellectual philosophy that influences peoples ideas and politicians stances.

    ‘Freemen’ are a group of people with an absurd misunderstanding of the law who can not influence anyone or effect any changes.

    And we come down to the ‘at least the ‘Freemen’ are doing something’. No, they are not doing anything at all. They have never achieved anything. Nothing. Not one single little thing.

    A bunch of counterproductive, deluded losers.