Sometime early in first decade of the second millennia, a meme variously known as ‘lawful rebellion’, ‘freeman on the land’, ‘sovereign individuals’ has arrived on the UK shores via the internet. Adherents to this meme believe that there is an alternative legal reality in which they do not come under the jurisdiction of the state, or more specifically, need to abide by statute law.
In this perverse view, the ‘free man’ claims that legal Statute, such as Acts of Parliament, are based on some form of contract law administered under Maritime jurisdiction known as Admiralty Law. On this basis, they argue, for Statute to be applicable as a contract it requires two or more consenting parties. As the individual adherents to this emerging phenomena claim that they have never given consent and therefore they exist outside of statutory law, the so called (by them) ‘law of the sea’ as they are ‘free men on the land’. Specifically, they claim not to have seen nor consented to ‘the social contract’ that underpins the representative democracy of the UK.
Although not all adherents to the pseudo-legal meme call themselves ‘free men’ or ‘sovereign individuals’ there is a strong commonality among them in their ‘interpretation’ of the law and in their approach to legal matters. The approach of UK freemen has ancestry from the USA and Canada and shares a great deal with similar ‘movements’ in Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If you’ve spotted a pattern emerging that these are all former British dependent territories you would be correct although it is not their English speaking cultures but their dependency on English law model that originated with Dane-Law and specifically and particularly codified in the Magna Carta. This phenomena draws much of its pseudo-legal philosophy from two clauses of the Magna Carta which, in 1215AD, guaranteed ‘free men’ (i.e. those of Nobility and Land Ownership – the 1%) an extensive but not total exemption from interference by the Monarch of the day.
This author came across them first about 5 years ago. At that time I expected they would just disintegrate as they failed to gain any traction in the waters of UK justice. While they remain without a single success in overturning the law, their numbers are steadily growing and their ideas becoming more widespread. Over the past year or so they have become more prominent – through the effective use of social media – although still without success. Indeed, this blog was inspired by taxi-driver who, while not having any awareness of the ‘sovereign individual’ or the ‘free man’ ideology, was aware of the tactics and had tried it himself.
His battle, with his landlord to get decent repairs to his property, has lead to him withholding rent payments. By return, his landlord has responded with a legal approach to seek financial redress and have him evicted from the property. So far, after 8 months, the taxi driver has resisted eviction and refused to pay rent or damages awarded in the courts. For adherents, whether they call themselves freeman or not, this delay is considered as some form of success by virtue of its ‘resistance’ to the ‘false law’ of Statute. The Taxi Driver quoted one of the major you-tube videos of the UK freeman-scene of a Liverpool man resisting eviction from his family home – for mortgage default – through a combination of knowing his rights has given by statutory law and the various obfuscations of the freeman approach, or what is classed by critics as Organised Pseudo-legal Commercial Argument (OPCA).
This blog is about this phenomena. In an attempt to understand what is happening t will look at structure, idea transmission, motivations. This blog is particularly interested in the anti-authoritarian aspects of the phenomena and how this is a key vector for the spread of the meme and how this is polluted with right-wing ideology about the individual and the state.
It will also poke fun, occasionally.