The closing remark from The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen, in writing on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s (ASIC) quest for more judicial power through ‘new fairness laws’, made a pointed case about the danger of being ruled by fiat and whim of the bureaucratic caste.
Citing NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, Albrechtsen argued that vague edicts – based on ‘ill-defined and poorly understood laws that we imagine reflect “the moral conscience of society” – mean ‘we will be ruled by lawyers not the rule of law.’ In other words, the danger before us is a society enslaved to an interpreter’s ability to interpret vague or ambiguous laws; meaning in a nutshell that subjective moralism, not objective morality, as handed down to English common law through Biblical Christianity, rules the day.
Albrechtsen labelled ASIC’s push for ‘new [fairness] laws’ a case of ‘bureaucrats expanding their unelected empires.’ Adding to this, Albrechtsen stated, Bathurst ‘warned that lawyers who favoured these kinds of laws could lose sight of whether the laws actually worked.’ This is because fairness isn’t easily defined and ‘people need clear, precise laws so they can identify, in advance, whether a particular act or arrangement will be [in] breach of [those] laws.’
In sum, Albrechtsen called for these new “fairness” laws to be rejected. For the reason, that implementing laws based on subjective whims, and uncertain notions about the current moral consciousness of society, leads to government overreach, and oppression or the ability to oppress. This is achieved through reckless, reactionary and unclear laws. The kinds of laws, that Albrechtsen accurately states, only serves the unelected bureaucratic caste and their socio-political interests. Simply put: ‘laws based on an ambiguous idea of fairness is bad for democracy.’ Ergo, these should be rejected.
To understand how Albrechtsen’s closing remark applies to this broader context, it pays to look at how her broadside against ASIC’s apparent quest for more power, hits on an issue that not only applies to ASIC’s request for “new fairness laws”, but to the broader context of hostile activism, and the quest to appear virtuous under the banner of social justice warrior.
We the people, as a society of free men and women, bearing the duties and responsibilities that such freedom requires, will indeed rue the day where we, out of ignorance and complacency, find ourselves under the thumb of a bloated, virtue signalling bureaucracy, issuing gaol terms or death sentences for perceived crimes committed under ambiguous terms such as “love is love”, “hate speech”, “white-privilege” and “micro-aggressions”.
To lean on Jean Bethke Elshtain and her paraphrasing of Vaclav Havel [i], “when human beings play God, the wreckage grows. In this mode, the human being finds himself in the “rut of totalitarian thought, where he is not his own and where he surrenders his own reason and conscience for the sake of another uninhabitable fiction! As long as that goal is served, it is not important whether we call that fiction ‘human well-being’, ‘socialism’ or ‘peace’. He or she lives within a lie as the self is given over to the “social auto-totality” [i.e.: he or she becomes both victim of the system and its instrument]; identity is surrendered and responsibility falters. A totalitarian society counts on this, requires it.”
To expand upon Albrechtsen’s closing remarks, woe to us if we’re ever governed by this subjective man-made system of salvation and condemnation, where we are governed by the fiats and whims of lawyers, and hostile leftist activism, instead of the rule of law.
[i] Vaclav Havel was a survivor. He participated in the resistance movement during the Soviet led, Warsaw Pact, and invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He was an anti-communist dissident and former president.
Albrechtsen, J. 2020, ‘Fairness’ The New Frontier For a Failing Regulator, The Australian, Wednesday 12th February.
Elshtain, J.B. 1995, Democracy On Trial, Basic Books
Havel, V. 1987, Living In Truth, Faber and Faber
First published on Caldron Pool, 15th February 2020.
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
© Rod Lampard, 2020