A MESSAGE FROM ANGLO-AUSTRALIANS
Englishmen need to be reminded
of their own cultural and historical heritage from which we drew to
establish our own Commonwealth of Australia.
THE CULTIVATION OF HISTORY
by Hewlett Edwards
"The Fig Tree," 1954
There is a saying among the south sea islanders:
Know the roots and you will know the tree. Know the tree and behold!
It will answer to your cultivation.
History is the endless record of experiments;
a series that cannot be broken and of which there is never complete
specification nor adequate separation from a multiplicity of similar
operations. The movement of events cannot be arrested for examination
and analysis, history shows and must show approximation upon approximation.
Within itself each event appears to be complete and completed, it cannot
be undone; but, as a part of a series which is one whole, what is so
indeterminate as an isolated event? It seems conclusive, yet it is always
moving on to fresh conclusions.
It is in this difficult complexity that policy
is crystallised and becomes history in which men of understanding as
well as of action have erected signposts for the use of their successors.
To illuminate one of these is to select that particular incident or
aspect as being of a significance exceeding that of a thousand other
happenings which might have been chosen. He who writes history, chooses
This group of ideas clusters round the word
One such signpost firmly erected in early Christian
days was the Athanasian Creed. This draws attention to the threefold
nature of reality, and sets forth ideas which, perhaps necessarily,
were in advance of common usage. This incomprehension was extravagantly
illustrated in the major controversy of those days, for amongst and
throughout the wars, revolutions, plagues, pestilences and famines of
early Christendom, in which individuals and nations were racked, shaken
and overwhelmed; throughout these confusions ran the thread of a controversy
in which an idea was not so much pursued, as eventually discovered.
This was the idea, or group of ideas, which clusters round the word
constitution in its social and political connection. The content of
this controversy concerned the veridical relationship between Pope and
Emperor; between Authority and Power.
In this discussion, argument was continued by
canonists and legists for more than a millennium. From the first, the
problem seems to have been envisaged in limited perspective as a simple
struggle for power between the Papacy and Empire; but even in a thousand
years, neither party attained complete domination although both came
Out of the strife, however, came extensive results though these were
not those consciously aimed at. To a high degree, Canon Law and Roman
Law stand as memorials to this disputation, truly notable monuments,
though inconclusive as solvents of the constitutional issue.
The controversy was the thread along which the rival disputants groped
towards ideas and institutions which could satisfy both spiritual and
The lawyers and theologians were bent on realising
a dualistic Constitution
In the sixth century, Justinian confirmed a strategy
already adopted when, in his Novellae Constitutiones, he said that the
mercy of God had bestowed upon mankind the two greatest gifts, the sacerdotium
and the imperium, the one ministering to the divine and the other presiding
over and caring for the human.
Following this directive, the lawyers and the earlier generations of
theologians were bent on realising the strict separation of Church and
State according to the ideal of a dualistic constitution. In this, success
appeared to have been attained when in 800 A.D. the Pope, assuming spiritual
leadership of the world, crowned Charles V of France Emperor, with temporal
But Charles' Empire did not survive his life,
and all was again in confusion. In the tenth century the position was
reversed, and we find Otto the Great, a German Emperor, crowning and
deposing Popes from 963 until his death. Nothing was settled. Indeed,
by this time, the political content of the Middle Ages had become one
long quarrel turning upon this question of constitutional ascendency.
By the thirteenth century all was again changed. Dualism became heresy,
and all effort was turned towards a unification of control, the concentration
in one person of Power and Authority. It was Alanus, an English monk,
who, writing in the decade following 1200 A.D., originated the view
that the single head of medieval polity for matters both spiritual and
temporal, was the Pope.
The establishment of "what touches all
should be approved by all":
To the medieval mind, absolute government was
the only possible form of government, and although the democratic derivation
of a Prince's powers was closely canvassed, a democratic share in central
administration was neither thought of nor discussed.
This did not prevent the establishment early in the thirteenth century
of the principle that 'What touches all should be approved by all',
while, later in the same century, canonist scholarship demanded that
representation should have full power to consent to the ordinances of
the King in Council.
Again, it was laid down that, wherever a matter
of faith was disputed, laymen as well as clerics were to be consulted.
Discussion on such points was a lively interest and the consideration
and adoption of constitutional principles was perennial. In England,
theologians were active in the general disputation; while English lawyers
worked out the typically inductive system of the Common Law. This was
a development parallel to Roman Law, both originally being in part derived
from the endeavours of the Church Fathers to perpetuate and establish
in legal form the moral teachings of the Gospels, interpreted as Natural
Following this idea, it was held that liberty
was derived from Natural Law and therefore seemed immune from human
restriction. Later this was evidently found inconvenient, as liberty
came to be regarded as a 'mundane benefit' of which anyone might be
deprived by a Prince of the Church. It was upon this argument that slavery
was recognised and Magna Carta was discredited by the Church (Innocent
Both Roman and Common Law were concerned with the temporal aspect of
human relations, whereas Canon Law was focussed upon the spiritual aspect
of the individual and carried greater prestige and dignity. While Roman
legists depended chiefly upon argument and deduction from scriptural
texts (Mosaic and New Testament), the emphasis in Common Law was upon
circumstances and conditions then obtaining.
Reality is Threefold, not Unitarian, not Dualistic
The conversion of the Emperor Constantine early
in the fourth century marked the emergence of Christians from a long
period of persecution and martyrdom. Authority, in the persons of the
Elders of the Church, was no longer oppressed, but stood in an unfamiliar
- indeed in an unknown - relationship to Power as personified in the
Emperor. Whatever the earliest contacts may have been, it is known that
about twelve years after the attainment of this unique position Constantine
called together the leaders of the Church in a Council at Nicea (A.D.
325), which indicated on the highest and most authoritative plane, fundamental
principles bearing on this very predicament.
A strong directive was issued making clear a position which had long
been obscure, and in so doing promulgated verities - discovered rather
than devised - which must be observed by those who would go with and
not against the nature of reality.
Reality it was stated, is threefold; not unitarian,
not dualistic; a Mystery best described as Three in One. This was the
Nicene Creed recited at the second session of the Council, where the
young Athanasius distinguished himself. The elaborate Athanasian "Confession
of our Christian Faith" became current later.
The modern world is not without instances of
flagrant evasion of obvious truth. To us it seems extraordinary that
the principles enunciated should not have been related to the predicament
experienced; that the Creed should not have been seen to have its political
analogue precisely suited to immediate - and difficult - circumstances.
It must have seemed, if only for a brief moment, that Spiritual Authority
and Temporal Power were at one; and the realisation that there was no
precedent governing their fruitful co-existence must have followed quickly.
The Council of Nicea did not specifically consider the principles upon
which Authority and Power might together work out the spiritual and
material advancement of the new Christendom, but in the Creed it stated
Reality is threefold, and that idea, as developed
in the (Athanasian) Creed, must to the extent of man's capacity, be
reflected in his institutions. But there is no trace of any attempt
to grapple with this problem, instead, the unique opportunity was allowed
to pass and political society slide back into just another phase of
contending parties. Or was it inconspicuously propelled?
Such must have been the background of that age-long
quarrel which turned its back upon the Athanasian thesis, making a prolonged
excursion into dualism and turning at last towards centralised autarchy.
For papalism did not remain satisfied with spiritual leadership, and,
failing to distinguish between Authority and Power, the supremacy of
the Pope was taken far into the temporal sphere.
This direction, pursued over generations, built
up the stresses and pressures which prefaced the 'Reformation'; an explosion
in which papal absolutism was broken into fragments which, Sysyphean,
sprang to the same monopolistic ideal (e.g. in Henry VIII of England
and Phillip II of Spain).
With this catastrophe, the controversy between the protagonists of Pope
and Emperor ceased to be a focal issue. The prolonged endeavour to force
action which was against the nature of reality shattered the polity
in which it existed, as in the end it will shatter any polity in which
it is tolerated.
Rejection of the tripodal (trinitarian) framework
- the only framework which fits man and society into the universe -
has, in its later course, exalted 'Totalitarianism', 'Communism', and
now an oncoming Luciferianism salutes and summons the 'Atomic Age'.
Conjunction of Authority and Power made apparent
the third member of the political triad:
The most significant and fruitful facet of this
historical perspective is that, despite the following of many false
trails, the trinitarian idea was not to be always or completely denied,
as is to be seen in the unfolding of the English constitution.
The formative period was in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, when English law was administered by the ablest and best
men of the Kingdom; it was then that the emerging principles of Common
Law were being shaped, Canon Law performing the function of a bridge
connecting legal process with ethical and theological discussion.
During that period, the argument between the Papacy and the Empire was
mainly dualistic (it was certainly not trinitarian) and yet in England
at that time the conjunction of Authority and Power made apparent the
third member of the Political Triad - the Common Law with all that followed
Directional inspiration plus
executive action only exist by virtue of their issue, or content. THE
THREE ARE ONE. In use they can and must be distinguished, but they can
never be separated.
King John failed in this. He did not distinguish but tried to combine
Authority, Power and Law in his own person; and, in this violation of
well-understood but largely unformulated principles, he brought the
constitutional issue to a head.
The Barons at Runnymede may not have realised fully the part they played:
but they played it. They stood as an embodiment of the people of England,
all England; the outcome and incarnation of the inter-locking activities
of Church, King, and People; and their purpose was to bring the King
to recognise his limitations in this threefold structure by the implementation
of the rights of the other parties. Magna Carta was the sign and confirmation
It was a truly English document, containing neither
explanations, argument nor reasoning. Of the seventy-nine clauses it
contains, only five are in abstract terms; four are administrative;
seven lay down sanctions and the other sixty-three directly concern
the settlement of specific cases.
It is a lesson in what not to say. These decisions fixed established
custom, binding the law back to then current usage.
Upon ground so secured was cultivated a comprehensive organism of many
parts which sustained the King's Justice, Canon Law and the Common Law
including in the Inns of Court, virtually a university.
For more than three-hundred years this organic relationship developed,
reaching its climax in the life and person of Sir Thomas More. The thread
of this fruitful continuity was broken by Henry VIII whose absolutist
ambition and determination to transcend the law, which More resisted,
led to the great Chancellor's execution in 1535. With his death, the
Law Reports which were a continuous record of the being and becoming
of the Law, fluctuated and then ceased.
It is true to say that the English people with
their customs, characteristics and achievements sprang out of and exist
because of the adequacy of this trinitarian setting - though something
was lacking or we should have it yet.
In 1535, the current induced by these conditions was immensely strong
and neither Henry nor Cromwell and their like could do more than check
or divert the flow. But the tide had turned.
The disruption of the Common Law and the undermining
of the Constitution has taken another three or four hundred years, and
still continues, as has been shown by such distinguished lawyers as
Lord Acton and Lord Hewart. Major Douglas summed it up " ... we
now have the merest shell of a Constitution, Single Chamber Government
dominated by Cartels and Trade Unions".
Constitutionalism must have a relation to
Consider then these signposts of the past: the
Gospels, the Athanasian Creed and Magna Carta. Although so widely different
in content and expression each is a crystallisation of the same policy,
which has become history. It is this history which we must cultivate;
Christian charity (caritas) in which to live and grow, Athanasian (Greek)
penetration of reality as the guide to growth, and British determination
to secure results.
These also are one in our Constitution but that Constitution has been
crippled and made impotent. For its restoration, another crystallisation
of policy is needed.
In the opinion of Douglas:
· "Constitutionalism must be organic;
it must have a relation to the Universe.
the restoration of the supremacy of Common Law,
the removal of encroachments upon it, and the establishment of the principle
that legislation by the House of Commons impinging upon it is ultra
vires is an urgent necessity.
· "It is necessary to provide individuals, as individuals,
not collectively, with much more opportunity to judge political matters
by results, and to be able to reject, individually and not collectively,
policies they do not like
· To crystallise these directives into history is to bring substance
to things hoped for and to provide evidence of things to come: it is
the establishment of the threefold Constitution as a production unit
of truth and freedom.
Acknowledgements are made to the following
Medieval Popalism by Walter Ullman, J.U.D.,
F.R. Hist. S.;
Christian Philosophy in the Common Law by Richard O'Sullivan. K.C.;
Realistic Constitutionalism by C.H. Douglas.
Source: Taken from An Opinion
Column from the national convenor of
AUSTRALIANS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL
Kevin Rudd may well have inadvertently made the
prospect of a one party nation an issue in the coming election.
What is disturbing is not the prospect of wall-to-wall
Labor governments. Rather, it is the prospect of wall-to-wall governments
firmly committed to fundamental constitutional change the people have
clearly rejected. Of the major parties only Labor is so committed. Although
founded by that great constitutional monarchist, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies,
the Liberals have somehow managed to make this a conscience issue, while
the Nationals remain solidly monarchist.
The consequence is that even with a republican
prime minister,the Coalition will be divided and not vote as a bloc.
On the other hand, it is doubtful that the monarchists in the Labor
Party would be allowed a free vote. Rather, it is likely thatthey would
be compelled to follow the party line.
In this context, Kevin Rudd's recent intervention
in support of a republic was as unexpected as it was unwise. He clearly
has not done his homework on the question. How else can would this conservative
Labor politician observe that he is "relatively relaxed" about
the prospect of a republic in which the president is chosen by the electorate?
No other conservative politician of any standing is. This statement
Equally unprofessional is the Labor Party's continued outsourcing of
the detail of this issue to the declining republican movement.
This is even more curious when it is remembered the movement is headed
by a Liberal candidate in the coming election.
More importantly, by his introduction of the
republican issue into the electoral debate Mr. Rudd has raised to theforeground
the fact that since 1986, the powers of the state and federal parliaments
acting together seem to be absolute and without limit.
It is not so much that they can they raise the
GST - the Federal Parliament could do this alone if it so wished, just
as it could
change the Flag without a popular vote. Mr. Keating and Mr.Beasley planned
to do precisely this before they lost office, and
Mr Howard's subsequent amendment to the Flag Act could be repealed by
a determined government with the numbers and the
Our seven parliaments acting together could,
on the very best legal advice available, not only bring in any sort
without a referendum, it could also abolish the Senate, turn the states
into regions, extend the terms of the politicians to five
or seven years or more, subvert the judiciary and gag the media.
Only a determined High Court could stop this,
and there is no guarantee of that. Now no one is saying they are going
to all or
even any of this. But by raising the prospect of change to some sort
of republic, Mr Rudd has handed control of the introduction of this
issue to his opponents.Once it is on the agenda, the electorate may
begin to wonder whether any party should have this power. They may ask
whether the temptation to do something will be too strong?
Would the parliaments ignore the peoples' will as, say, the Queensland
Parliament once did over the abolition of the upper house?.