Newsletter of the Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot (CDRSB)
February 2012 Issue No. 6
ISSN 1756-4964 (Print)
CDRSB Conflict Resolution Strategy
The Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot (CDRSB) was formed in 2002 to oppose the unlimited use of postal ballots. The 1872 UK Ballot Act was designed to protect this right by requiring that voters be officially witnessed to cast their vote in secret at polling stations. Postal ballots could only be used in the UK throughout the 20th century by voters unable through absence from home or illness to cast their vote in a polling station. In this way employers and landlords were prevented from demanding that their employees and tenants vote under their scrutiny. Unlimited use of postal ballots undermines the right to a secret ballot: it also leads to an increase in electoral fraud.
These restrictions – to persons absent from home or ill – were first lifted in Oregon in 1992 and since then in over 20 USA states and European countries, including England, Scotland and Wales. It is the Left who are the chief advocates of reforms aimed to encourage voter participation by lowering standards of integrity in regard to the electoral process. The CDRSB held a conference on this matter at the UN in New York in 2006. Preparations for the second conference include research on what the first conference recognized to be the main underlying cause of electoral fraud and malpractice: the conflict between conservatism and radicalism.
It may be reasonably stated that most conflict in the last two centuries arose ultimately as a consequence of the failure to fulfill the democratic aspirations of American revolutionary radicalism in the regulation of inherited wealth and the development of non partisan forms of political participation and decision making most especially in regard to their role in facilitating ongoing systemic change. This failure may be attributed principally to two main factors: first, the incompetence of French revolutionary radicalism; second, the insufficient strength of American revolutionary radicalism in overcoming single-handedly the forces of global conservatism following the French defeat. The reasons for these shortcomings are rooted in the comparatively more backward level of French and European social and political development most especially its relation to the role of common sense in scientific thought and democratic government. In turn these difficulties gave rise to the emergence of totalitarian ideologies and in this way have continued to impede conflict resolution between conservatism and radicalism in the modern era.
Democratic progress may therefore best be assured by reaffirming the main achievements and aspirations of American revolutionary radicalism. These are first, the Bill of Rights as constitutional safeguard against government tyranny; second, the principle that the earth belongs to the living in its implications both for ongoing systemic change and the taxation of inherited wealth; thirdly, the further development of sortition by way of the jury form of democracy.
The development of sortition as a complementary form of election and appointment needs to be developed in regard to both its merit in promoting egalitarian methods of democratic participation and its merit in helping to constrain the influence of factions, most especially secret factions, on the political process. Suspicion regarding secret factions gripped the public imagination in the formative years of the American republic and led to the formation of the American Antimasonic party. Such fears were exploited by extremism in World War Two, and remain of continuing importance in the modern era. Since the demise of Marxism in both its openly Leninist as well as its dictatorial, Stalinist expression career Leftism has increasingly favoured the secret factional methods of Fabian strategy: stealth, spin, infiltration and deception. Obama, Blair and even Saul Alinsky’s Tory disciple David Cameron are leaders who have all acquired somewhat suspect reputations in this context.
The European Union is largely a product of such tactics and is based on an assemblage of numerous treaties, constitutional claims and so called ‘human rights’ laws which are remarkable only by way of the fact that despite their voluminous complexity their authors have still managed to exclude from them virtually all provisions of the US Bill of Rights. Against this background greater use of sortition can help develop a less partisan form of deliberation and decision making complementary to present forms of parliamentary representation but better suited to providing more open, honest, trustworthy judgements on long term systemic change based on practical results, not secretively preconceived, ideologically driven wishful thinking.
If general agreement can be reached in regard to these goals then conflict between radicalism and conservatism may be better contained within the parameters of peaceful constitutional development properly protected against the threat of factional monopolies and attempts to promote tyranny by stealth. These parameters may facilitate multisystemic options in which socialist and capitalist forms of economy can be tested upon an impartial foundation of democratic participation.
Our judgement is that the most fruitful first steps to be taken in regard to promoting these objectives should be directed to making progress on two main issues: firstly the relation between inherited wealth and taxation; secondly the right to bear arms. These issues respectively concern in the main the prejudices of conservatism and radicalism and when tackled comprehensively can be dealt with in the context of our general strategy of conflict resolution outlined above, including the role and significance of sortition. In this way the interconnections between the main component parts of this strategy can be demonstrated as a coherent whole. Experience at international diplomatic levels indicates that the left seek to impose the condition on their support for our research strategy that we drop the demand for the right to bear arms. This selective approach to our proposals is, at best, self defeating because it distorts them so they are made subordinate to the stratagems of force favoured by Leftism, and in so doing undermines the principle of ongoing systemic change to the point of destruction. When push comes to shove political systems which deny their citizens the right to bear arms are, short of civil war, effectively under the monopoly control of the given ruling faction since those who seek to remove them from power by peaceful, constitutional means in order to bring about systemic change can be silenced by the threat or use of illegal force.
That this plain fact is so often concealed from the people, frequently by the ‘useful idiots’ of and apologists for the hard left, does not alter the necessity of addressing it. Indeed this circumstance presents something of an opportunity, since its consequence is that the right to bear arms has been so neglected by the left that little or no critical thought has been applied to the task of proposing and promoting an international standard concerning the right to self defence appropriate to the requirements of the modern world. This right is of course supported by the most entrenched law in the USA. However the simple projection of American freedoms upon a world scale is not the only means by which our aims can be met, and ultimately it may not be necessary. The 2008 US Supreme Court Heller case established for the first time the principle that the right to bear arms is an individual right, and not a mere administrative regulation concerning state militias, as the left had sought to depict it. The great majority of American citizens can in principle own virtually any firearm of their choice. The second amendment has helped the survival of the American Republic for over two centuries, and with this, the replication of many elements of its blueprint for representative government - a limited but wholly necessary first step in democratic development - throughout the world. Now is the time to establish a minimum international standard of entrenched law in support of the right to bear arms. Such a global standard need not necessarily entail the same scale of freedom in regard to the right to bear arms that has been established in the USA. Though there has been, and continues to be, an intense and extremely wide ranging conflict between western democracy and totalitarianism, the American blueprint of representative democracy has been successfully defended and promulgated throughout the globe such that the powers of tyranny are, on balance, less dominant than was the case in 1776.
Another set of changes is that firearms are much more powerful, such that one person has the ability to kill hundreds. Accordingly there are now substantive public interest arguments for regulating their numbers and distribution, not least among which is that such policy can comprise a key element in a process of global conflict resolution. For these reasons it is of some importance that a minimum standard be formulated which as far as possible takes account of these changes, while preserving the most essential function of the right to bear arms: the defence of the freedom of speech of those who oppose government policy. It is such individuals whose safety and protection is of direct value not only to themselves but to the whole of society, since if their voices are silenced by the illegal threat or use of force freedom of speech on the most serious issues is effectively destroyed.
Firearms for personal protection in a political system where freedom of speech is established need be no more powerful than revolvers up to medium caliber: these are light, reliable, easy to use and with an effective but limited killing capacity. They are therefore suitable for those who have no interest in acquiring shooting expertise but feel more able to exercise their freedom of speech when they know, as a last resort, they can protect themselves. Regulation of the right to bear arms such as revolvers for the purposes of personal protection can therefore reasonably be restricted to those persons whose political activities, be they professional or voluntary, involve issues of a national or international character. This would involve greater regulation than that of the issue of permits for carrying a concealed weapon in the USA, where ‘shall issue’ rules mean the authorities must issue them to any sane, law abiding adult provided minimum safety training requirements are met. Greater regulation also implies more room for arbitrary judgement however, so a right of appeal to a jury against the decisions of the regulatory authority should be incorporated within the Personal Protection Weapon (PPW) permit application process. These provisions can comprise the essential global standard to be established in all countries.
To our knowledge the most suitable body of firearms laws which meet these requirements is not readily available within US law, which is so universal in application that the distinction between crime and political conspiracy is no longer clearly defined, despite the fact that the founders clearly had this consideration in mind when the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. Somewhat ironically, the body of firearms laws which are closest in design and enforcement to the global standard indicated above is in Northern Ireland, where the issue of PPWs has long been established, and where over 1000 such permits have been authorized within the last five years alone. Unsurprisingly there is no provision for appeal to a jury in the PPW permit application process. In the coming period we shall therefore be making enquiries concerning the possibility of incorporating this provision within Northern Ireland firearms law reform.
CDRSB, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX
Tel: +44 (0)7795 464677
© Dr. Keith Nilsen