Hilton, Adrian. The Principality and Power of Europe: Britain and the Emerging Holy Roman Empire (1997).

August 29, 2007

The Principality and Power of Europe
“The Union is a creation of law, and is now an autonomous law-making body in its own right, with full and final authority over its citizens. British national law is now subordinate to European law . . .”

UPDATE: My reviews on this blog are based purely on my impressions of the books that I read. I would hate to mislead anyone, so by all means read Mr. Hilton’s response to this item that is in the comments area to get the full story. Cheers.

Adrian Hilton begins his book about Euroscepticism declaring that he should not called xenophobic or accused of bigotry towards Europeans. He’s right, too, no where in this book does he really say he hates Europeans. Instead the book is all about his fear of Catholics. So bigotry towards Catholics is a better accusation.

Hilton’s book is an attack on the United Kingdom’s integration into the European Union, and (while I don’t have a horse in the race) I agree that the EU is a bad fit for the UK. At the same time Hilton’s argument is terribley flawed in that it is primarily based on arguments about the Church of England and the powers of the Queen. These seem, to me, to be very weak arguments to be making about a liberal and autonomous society such as the UK. He argues that because England is a protestant country, it should stay out of the EU because the EU is essentially a Catholic entity. It makes a great conspiracy theory, but doesn’t hold water. He bases this on Pope John Paul II (the book is a bit dated) support of the EU and on his opposition to the Yalta Agreement which subdivided Europe.

He reaches all the way back to Henry VIII’s split with the Rome to assert that England should be autonomous of the EU. He refers to Henry’s statement “This realm of England is an Empire” as legal grounds for Englands independence. What he is overlooking is the ongoing jurisdictional battles that had been occuring between Popes and temporal Princes. Rome claimed that it had both divine and temporal authority (granted at the Council of Chalcedon) over the leaders of Europe. Henry simple wouldn’t play along anymore (for reasons of divorce), but Rome abandoned the policy of asserting the temporal power that it claimed (although it still claims it), and has continued to so. One of his major critique’s is the Pope’s political persona. For example the Pope can address the UN. He claims that no other religious leader has that right, but he fails to realize that the pope is also a head of state and this is what allows him to address the UN. It is disconcerting that Hilton is worried about the Pope’s abilities as a religious leader, but endorses the English law that keeps the Queen and Prime Minister from being ROman Catholic.

To be honest though, I’m way behind on my posting, and just can’t be bothered to delve deeper into this book. Its got some interesting legal history and a very skewed and dated approach to the European Union. Probably, not the best place to begin your research, but hey, its your research – do as you please.

Adrian Hilton

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Priestly, J.B. An Inspector Calls (1946)

March 1, 2007

Gerald: After all, y’know, we’re respectable citizens and not criminals.

Inspector
: Sometimes there isn’t as much difference as you think. Often, if it was left to me, I wouldn’t know where to draw the line.

Gerald: Fortunately, it isn’t left to you, is it?

An Inspector Calls is a clever little whodunit in which every one and no one dunit all at once. The Birling family has settled down to celebrate the engagement of their daughter to Gerald Croft when an inspector calls upon the household to inquire about the suicide of a young woman. He slowly reveals to each of the family members how they have contiributed to the poor girl’s demise.

J.B. Priestly’s play is more than just a clever whodunit though. He also uses it as a platform from which to preach a socialist agenda. Its not an overt message; Priestly viels it. Arthur Birling, patriarch of the family, former Lord Mayor, and a Magistrate is Priestly’s symbol of capitalism. He is a businessman who looks at the bottom line and the profit margins. It is through his initial actions that girl is set on her downward path. Inspector Goole on the other hand seeks out justice and inflicts a guilty sentence upon each of the family members for their contributtion. It is the aggregate effects of their actions that create the situation. In the same way capitalism (to Priestly) functions as the aggregate effect of numerous people who are guilty as a whole if not necessarily individually.

The other major legal implication, and the one that I find to be more interesting, is that of the mixing of law and morality. This play is essentially a morality play, and the representative of those morals is also a representative of the law. This idea certainly is mixed with the socialist agenda of the play, as socialism is obviously viewed by the author as the morally superior political paradigm. Beyond Priestly’s politics, though, it is significant that a police officer is chosen to deliver a moral message intead of a message of law. In fact, the message that the inspector brings is anything but a legal one. It is a clear cut case of suicide and none of the characters can be held criminally liable for their actions. However, the inspector takes it upon himself to make them feel morally liable for their actions. Inspector Goole blurs the line between law and morals. The line is further blurred at the end of the play when it is revealed that the Inspector is not actually a police officer. His real identity remains unknown, and is irrelevant. It is the fact that the character chose to cast himself as an enforcer of the law that matters. From this position he was able to use the coercive power of law to gain power over the Birlings and to make them feel as though the law itself was condemning their actions. It is the power of law that gives the inspector validity, and his validity that gives his moral agenda power.

An Inspector Calls.
J.B. Priestly