The attempt to limit government that almost succeeded
King John was in turmoil. England was under interdict from the Pope, and he himself had been excommunicated. There were threats to the realm from home and abroad. The new century was not particularly working out for him. By 1213, however, he had been absolved from excommunication, the clergy reinstated to their churches. But now a group of barons was breathing down his neck. They demanded his affirmation that he would continue “to maintain the ancient laws of the realm.” His track record on that score was not encouraging.
It is every Englishman’s heritage that Magna Carta established the rights and freedoms of Englishmen. But Magna Carta became the document that kings would use to destroy its very principles. Three months after the signing of the Great Charter civil war was still evident, over the principles in the Charter. In other words, the Magna Carta was never really implemented in its original form.
The years prior to 1215 were of great disturbance in England. The disturbance was over the extent of the power of the king. And there were nobles to the north of London who favored no increase in the monarch’s powers. Naturally, the king disagreed with this, and was willing to use whatever force was necessary to have his way. The issue was money—taxation.
The barons, however, were united in their views and willingness to do whatever was necessary to limit the king’s powers. They saw any increase as a denial of their freedom.
To understand this background, step back to Alfred the Great and his willingness to apply Old Testament legal requirements as the laws of England. Among these were a strong sense of property ownership, found in Exodus chapters 21-23.
When Magna Carta laid down that no new taxes could be levied ‘without common consent of the realm’ it helped set the foundation for the current democratic system that allows 50% +1 of the voters to impose their view on the remaining 50% -1 of the people.
The modern nation-state and its method of financing, taxation, is built on a lie, that the ‘moral’ majority somehow gives legitimacy to the taxing legislation. When the monarchs established a Parliament, it was to do no more than provide a buffer between the king and the citizens to ‘protect’ his taxing power and to eventually ‘legitimize’ what he took. He took it with the consent of the parliamentarians, who of course, were supposed to represent, initially property owners, but it was eventually expanded to ‘we the people’ — everyone. When things got tough in 1688, the roles were switched. Now the monarch (or in the USA, the President) “legitimizes” the acts of Parliament or Congress by adding his (or her in the case of the British monarch) imprimatur to the legislation.
But . . .