St. Columba: The patron saint of copyleft... (fwd)

Dave Long
Tue, 09 Apr 2002 11:22:08 -0700

> However, the constitution is not burnt
> into ROM.  Up until 1865, it said people
> were potentially property; an idea which
> now seems horribly mistaken.

and we have the constitution because we
rejected the divine right of Kings, an
issue which in its day was justified by
property rights.


Bertrand Russell, _A History of Western
Philosophy_:Modern Philosophy:Locke's
Political Philosophy:
> It is curious that the rejection of the hereditary principle in
> politics has had almost no effect in the economic sphere in democratic
> countries.  (In totalitarian states, economic power has been absorbed
> by political power.)  We still think it natural that a man should
> leave his property to his children; that is to say, we accept the
> hereditary principle as regards economic power while rejecting it as
> regards political power.  Political dynasties have disappeared[*],
> but economic dynasties survive.  I am not at the moment arguing
> either for or against this different treatment of the two forms of
> power; I am merely pointing out that it exists, and that most men
> are unconscious of it.  When you consider how natural it seems to us
> that the power over the lives of others resulting from great wealth
> should be hereditary, you will understand better how men like Sir
> Robert Filmer could take the same view as regards the power of kings,
> and how important was the innovation represented by men who thought
> as Locke did.
> To understand how Filmer's theory could be believed, and how Locke's
> contrary theory could seem revolutionary, we have only to reflect
> that a kingdom was regarded then as a landed estate is regarded now.
> The owner of the land has various important legal rights, the chief of
> which is the power of choosing who shall be on the land.  Ownership
> can be transmitted by inheritance, and we feel that the man who has
> inherited an estate has a just claim to all the privileges that the
> law allows him in consequence.  Yet at the bottom his position is the
> same as that of the monarchs whose claims Sir Robert Filmer defends.

(Filmer wrote _Patriarcha: or The
Natural Power of Kings_, during his
country's Civil War)

* At least the European ones had,
when this was written (ca. 1945)