On the 15th November, the Guardian gave over its comment pages to people from Occupy London. Most of the resulting articles were produced by earnest but weak-minded hippies. Two of the articles made the hippies look sensible.
The first of these was sad. It was the last of a set of three mini-articles by Occupiers on welfare, education and law; the law part being by written by a person “commonly known as dom.” It is important to him that you use that formulation, including the lack of an initial capital letter. He says,
Most days I walk around the site teaching people about the legal system, about the law, about how they’re being enslaved by a body of rules and statutory instruments. The prison without bars is made by bits of paper.
Bits of paper like your birth certificate. All registered names are Crown copyright. The legal definition of registration is transfer of title ownership, so anything that’s registered is handed over to the governing body; the thing itself is no longer yours. When you register a car, you’re agreeing to it not being yours – they send you back a form saying you’re the “registered keeper”. It’s a con. That’s why I say I’ve never had a name.
I must stress that I do not dispute the right of the entity commonly known as dom to call himself what he pleases, and in politeness I shall act in accordance with his preferences if ever I meet him. Apparently he wears one of those jester’s hats with bells on it. Later in the piece he suggests that we google “lawful rebellion”. I did, and soon it came to me that I had heard that phrase before, on this post and others on the EU Referendum site. That post in turn links to a site called The British Constitution Group. One glance at the site is enough to show its appeal to libertarians, Tory Anarchists and allied trades. I want to like it. I’m usually a complete sucker for a bit of Magna Carta and the Rights of Englishmen. But on reading around the various links within the site, not that complete. Someone has been reading too much Artemis Fowl. In those books, if you recall, a fairy cannot enter a human dwelling unless invited in. In the British Constitution Group website under the heading “CONSENT – The Most Important Word in the English Language” you will see the following:
An essential part of the arrest procedure is to read you your rights and then ask you ‘do you understand’ – the word ‘understand’ is synonymous with ‘stand-under’ – they are asking you whether you are prepared to ‘stand-under’ their authority… and when you answer yes – you are giving your consent.
…And because Persephone had eaten food in Hades, be it only six pomegranate seeds, she was doomed to return there. The concept of the hero being safe so long as he does not inadvertently perform some symbolic act that gives his enemies power over him is an ancient one and has great mythic power, but do not try this on irritable cops late at night.
The second Guardian article, by one Jon Witterick, was more clued-up and more sinister than the one by t.p.c.k.a.dom. Its title is Yes, defaulting on debts is an option. At first I thought it was about the financial situation in Greece and passed on to another story, thus nearly missing the tale of how Jon Witterick has avoided paying his debts and how, he claims, you can too. The key idea seems to be that debts cannot be sold on, and once again we meet the concept that you are safe so long as you do not speak the forbidden words:
I also realised how debt collectors trick us into contracts with them, by asking us how much we could pay. When you agree to one pound a month, which costs more to administrate, they now have a contract with you, where none existed
Topping and tailing this admission of fraud and theft are a genuinely pitiable account of what it is like to be pursued by debt collectors and a genuinely repulsive attempt to argue that his decision not to pay what he owes is Iceland writ small. He does not say what he spent the money on, back before he decided it was not real.
Witterick’s website, to which I prudishly will not link, contains the following message:
Your Credit Card Agreement is an unlawful contract as it is ONLY signed by you- constituting a unilateral agreement. (Contract Law)
All contracts, in order to be valid, must be signed by someone able to bind the corporation in contract. (Contract Law)
Banks create money out of thin air- they have no money to lend you. (Fractional Reserve Banking)
It is not possible to actually pay the outstanding amount as the currency is based on worthless paper and ‘electronic funds’ on computers. (Fractional Reserve Banking)
You do not have to pay statements, only invoices. (Bills of Exchange Act 1882)
You are not lawfully bound to pay anything which is unsigned. (Bills of Exchange Act 1882)
The uppercase name on the credit card is not your name, but a ‘corporate entity’. (Blacks Law Dictionary)
The banks have been so desperate to get us into debt, that they sold people mortgages, who they knew could NEVER afford to pay them back.
The governments are so desperate to keep this racket going, that they will bail out ANY bank that gets into trouble! Being in debt is one of the consequences of playing the game
Why do you think your government is in debt?
There is not enough Money in circulation for everyone to pay off ALL the debts!
The whole system is totally fraudulent…
There are a few small nuggets of sense floating in a stew of foolishness there. You can see why Witterick was welcomed to lecture at Occupy’s Tent City University, and you can also see why it might appeal to some here.
However if anyone reading this is in debt and desperate, be advised that following his legal advice will make your situation worse. (You would be far better off speaking to The Consumer Credit Counselling Service. You will not be charged for their advice, and, for those who care about such things, this body is funded by the credit industry, not the taxpayer.) The strategies Witterick advises might have worked for the first few people who tried them, as debt collectors decided to go for easier targets. But they, and judges, can spot a “freeman” a mile off now. Calling yourself “john:smith” or “John of the family Smith” does not hack it any more. The Guardian partly redeemed itself for publishing Witterick by also publishing this response by a legal blogger. The comments to both Witterick’s piece and the response are also well worth reading. Even Guardian readers normally sympathetic to the Occupy movement thought Witterick was a charlatan.
I wish I did not have a presentiment that some people with whom I share many beliefs will be hurt by this post.