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Here is the text (abridged) of the address by Vivian Linacre to
"I propose to take as my starting point a familiar theme, from which I can then develop an original theme. You all know that the evil of compulsory metrication, constitutionally and ethically, derives from its manifestation of prescriptive law, as opposed to the proscriptive law that prevails in any free society. The metrication regulations prescribe the exclusively authorized units of measurement, thereby prohibiting any units not specifically authorized. Thus, the use of any archaic, technical, regional or colloquial unit of measurement may have become a criminal offence, merely because some civil servant in Brussels or the DTI has inadvertently omitted it from the relevant schedule.
So, under this authoritarian regime, the presumption is that anything is illegal unless expressly permitted. In contrast, under our common law, the presumption is always that anything is legal unless expressly prohibited - just as, in a criminal trial, the accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty. In a free society, the law states what you must not do - commit murder or walk on the grass - leaving one free to do anything else; whereas under a dictatorship the law states what one must do - wave a little red book containing the sayings of Chairman Mao or exchange 'Heil Hitler!' salutes or use specified metric units - on pain of punishment for non-compliance.
In a free society, the state is not interested in what anybody does,
provided it does not infringe the law; but in a totalitarian society (such
as ours has gradually become ever since our capitulation to Napoleonic law
in 1973) the state is very interested in everything we do, in case we dare
depart from the party line.
(Once, the constitution of the UK could ideally be encapsulated in twelve words: "I am a subject of the Crown and therefore a free man." What more was ever needed?)
As with freedoms, so with 'rights'. (The distinction, of course, is
that freedoms are, or should be, generic and major, whereas rights are
specific and minor; but under modern governments, as we have seen,
freedoms are degenerating into mere rights.) The only purpose of any
official definition of 'rights' is to restrict them. (Do you remember John
Major's love affair with 'Charters' in the early '90s? So much poisonous
hot air!) Again, let me revert to metrication for a perfect illustration
of the tyranny of so-called 'rights'. You will recall that, when use of
metric units was made compulsory, a 'derogation' (concession) was granted,
whereby, alongside but subordinate to the metric marking, the equivalent
in imperial units could also be shown. This use is called a 'supplementary
indication'. Such use is entirely optional - at the discretion of the
supplier or retailer - since the only legal requirement is the metric
marking. Accordingly, it is of no concern to the authorities whether or
not the imperial equivalent is also displayed.
This is not only a violation of the article in what is laughingly
called the European Convention on Human Rights protecting freedom of
commercial speech; it is sheer malice - cultural cleansing in its crudest
form. The only attempt at justification that I have heard is that
continued use of customary measures, even as supplementary indications,
gives their users an "unfair competitive advantage" over
metric-only traders - because, of course, they are so much more popular
The fundamental point is that the state (i.e. the EC), by arrogating
unto itself the right, in the first instance - an original right which it
never possessed - to confer the 'right' to use supplementary indications,
implicitly reserved unto itself the further right to terminate that
conferred 'right' whenever it chose. These, then, are the twin evils of
all so-called rights bestowed by the state: (a) whatever is not expressed
as a specific right is tacitly forbidden, and (b) the grant of any right
may be withdrawn as the state determines. There are no inalienable
rights any more; only rights that are ours to enjoy on sufferance or by
grace of government and only for so long as it pleases.
Like customary measures, freedom is inherent in nature and cannot be abolished. Like the metric system, this new structure of 'rights' is an artificial fabrication and will not endure. Hence my title, 'The Three Dimensions of Freedom', for, in addition to the two basic kinds of freedom (physical and intellectual), we now need a third: freedom from what I call 'bureaumorality' or 'burethics' - i.e. freedom from the so-called freedoms conferred by government and from regulation by state-inflicted 'rights'. Even if I were not interested in weights and measures, it is for that third freedom that I would fight and gladly die. The battle cry is: 'Down with rights! I don't want them. I'm a free man.'
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