Thus we can acknowledge these self-evident truths:
- We are within the bounds of Nature.
- We are imbued with the Laws of Nature.
- All things within Nature are imbued with these Laws.
- Those Laws create Liberty and Rights for all parts of Nature.
- All creatures have access to all Liberty and Rights of Nature, without exception.
- We recognize that we have such Liberty and Rights as Nature provides to us.
- Natural Liberty and Rights can be seen to have Positive and Negative attributes.
- Marriage, that is the joining of one person to another, is the basis of the family.
- By creating family we create the Law of Nations.
- In the creation of the Law of Nations we agree to not individually exercise our Negative Liberty of War.
- By being part of a family under the Law of Nations we agree to exercise our Positive Liberty of War to defend those we love.
Natural Liberty, being that which is gained from Nature, is available to all creatures in Nature, without exception and at all scales of the cosmos from the quantum on upwards. By coming together to form families we create the Law of Nations which serves as the basis for all higher social orders. This, too, is available to all creatures but requires the ability to utilize reason to recognize this state of being within Nature, thus birds can demonstrate a flock mentality while nesting and that is part and parcel of the Law of Nations but applied without reason or order to it, thus is unordered Natural society with no impediments of regularized behavior for all.
This conception of the Law of Nations became part of the English (later British) Common Law as far back as the 13th century (as seen in this post on Tree of Law, Tree of Liberty). England, at that point in time, had very little of the scripted law (jus scriptum) or written law, and much of the unwritten law (leges) which was confusing to outsiders who considered scripted or written law to be a touchstone of the basis for law coming from the remains of the Roman legal system. Yet before scripted law there must have been the unscripted law, the law of localities to govern themselves in accordance with social norms set up amongst families. That unwritten or unscripted social law or civil law is an expression of the Law of Nations but is not the Law of Nations itself: the Law of Nations gives formulation to how civil law is created and maintained by a society but allows for the wide variance of human culture that will then see different expressions of law within the broader framework. Writing and literacy, thusly, are not necessary to create civil order and government, although it is of great help once at the level of Nation to Nation contact.
Written agreements between Nations can be found chiseled into stone in Incan ruins, the sides of Mayan buildings, in Egyptian places set aside for such things, on the walls of caves as at Kadesh, on columns in Babylon and Greece and I would suspect at ruins in Thailand, Malaysia, various parts of Africa, and across India. We can go to the Old Hittite Kingdom diplomatic archives and understand their scope and meaning immediately: it is the duplicate records of the Old Hittite Kingdom and their responses to other Nations around them from Achaean Greeks to Egypt to Babylon and beyond at all compass points even as far north as the Baltic Sea. The discourse between diplomats is governed by the Law of Nations and is universal to mankind no matter the era, culture or setting. If you read about an exchange of diplomats between Nations you immediately understand the framework of it, the exchanging of gifts, courtesy, diplomacy, and how agreements between Nations are formed.
At the other end of the scale and stopping at the local level it is possible to run a society without written law, as seen in England. The English Common Law would descend from three types of law, two of which are akin to each other: 1) Roman law or scripted law, 2) locally cultivated law (amongst English peoples, locally), 3) local law as brought from the outside (by Norse and other Viking peoples). Due to its circumstances England would start off with indigenous law, have Roman law placed over it, then have that washed over by Norse or Viking law. To trace any part of the Common Law requires some understanding of where the particular part of it came from. Thus in a local legal proceeding you would have a legal problem brought before a judge and possible jury of peers to settle local disputes, and over time as England was constructed after the Norman Conquest, you would have judges sent by a larger government authority (county or provincial level, or National level) or from ecclesiastical realms (the Church for church law).
Early on after the Norman Conquest the ability to get a judge at any particular time meant that a set-aside time for judgments was made, usually at spring fairs, and that meant either an outside judge be brought in or a local judge nominated by the gathering social groups. That individual chosen in that way has the term Lawgiver applied to him, and that Lawgiver is a phenomena of local law systems but is very particular to the Viking or Norse systems as it represents more than just the local proceedings. In the terms of the northern people of Europe the gathering for ruling on affairs is the Thing. Lawgivers then travel to the capitol or other seat of power for a Nation to preside over decisions that the ruler wishes to make and to pass judgment upon those decisions. That ruler is then held accountable by this All-Thing as it is a form of representative democracy at work to express the state of the Nation to a ruler and ensure the ruler abides by the laws of the land.
Unlike the Divine Right form of rulership, this form can remove Kings for crimes against the Nation or even just unwise rulership. Kings that wished to get laws set up for the Nations that had this form of system had to get agreement from the meeting of representatives so that the law could be written down so as to preserve its content. When you have diverse societies or factions within societies that don't agree on a number of legal viewpoints, that then makes the presence of scripted National law rare.
At the personal level there is the ability of individuals to make agreements under defined concepts of reciprocity. The exchange of goods for services at a rate that is agreed-upon, as an example, is one form of this. Using the Viking view for economics, we see that lending with interest can be done without written math by having the stack of coins to meet an agreement set in two measuring sticks, held by each side of the agreement. Paying it back requires a small hole to be dug and the stick put at ground level (or other instrument to raise the stick a set amount) and that entire length from bottom of hole to top of stick is the payment with interest over time. This is how one gets 'in the hole' on payments. Similarly we can refer to a boat as a whole in the water you throw money into, as the maintenance upkeep cost of a vessel being exorbitantly high. As Vikings used ships to ply their wares and attack those who didn't want to trade, this concept of being in the hole and throwing money into ships was well understood even before runes became a part of the culture.
The nature of the agreement, no matter what its venue, between individuals for this exchange gains the term of: contract. As Bronze Age Linear-B was deciphered, it became apparent that the overwhelming majority of fired clay fragments were contracts and shopping lists, not high culture stories. And as it is nearly impossible to find a place in the Aegean basin that doesn't have such artifacts, often in giant heaps of fragments, the sheer scale of transactions over time must have been large. Yet the payment for goods and services, either by coin or exchange, still took the form of a contract.
That description of a pre-agreed way to exchange goods and services as a contract with each party agreeing to it has a different name but the exact, same meaning, at the Nation level. We call that a diplomatic agreement or treaty. It is set up between equals, can be witnessed by other equals in society, and the expectation of carrying it out is upheld by all in that society so as to keep the uniformity of social norms upheld. Thus Nations are seen as individuals, and we often hear the familial form of Nations applied to them (brother Nations, a family of Nations, etc.). This means that all treaties are contracts amongst equals. This is seen in a post by Geoff Hill (cited by Steven den Beste) and I will highlight in boldface:
I quote the following from Malcolm N. Shaw in his 'International Law, Fourth Edition' book: "International law is primarily formulated by international agreements" and "states do observe international law and will usually only violate it on an issue regarded as vital to their interests". None of these statements has anything to do with imposition to authority or practice. All international laws are complied with by the signatories -as they see fit-, and can/have been broken if said signatories view the following of the laws as contrary to their vital interests.
Since there is no overriding sovereign authority who can impose any international laws on any signatories [The UN is toothless in this regard], since any signatories can [and have in cases] flouted certain international laws [witness Norway and whaling laws], and since the laws -only- apply to the signatories and not the world in general, they can't very well be considered laws. They would be more properly designated as non-binding contracts upon the parties involved.
Note that 'binding international law' is an oxymoron: there is no sovereign authority that all Nations agree to, thus there is no binding system for international law. That artifact of binding for written contract law inside of Nations is an artifact of the ability to form sovereign governments that then represent a Nation. From that it is seen that governments are a preservation mechanism for different societies to flourish and that mankind, sans such mechanisms, would soon fall into disorder as the lack of agreed-upon sovereignty from the local level would remove the ability of that authority to actually be an authority. That disorder, however, would be transitory as the Law of Nations would be applied at these newer, smaller levels at which there can be some agreed-upon outlooks for what is held in common by those people who then incorporate the larger governmental entity.
Incorporation of a system via an agreed-upon method of accountability happens at all levels of human affairs. These are often cited as 'persons' (ex. a corporate person) so that they can be granted certain ways and means of acting. There are different powers and responsibilities granted by the people of a given society to these non-corporeal entities based upon their function. Thus a National government has different powers and responsibilities and is given a set of rights to utilize to those ends, and a town has a different set, a manufacturing entity a different set from those two, a services business yet a different set, and so on. Societies agree upon what those differences are and how they are to be handled via the law in a sovereign State setting. And as in the pre-literate or near literate societies, laws are more flexible and malleable at the local level and fewer and more brittle at the Nation State level as it cannot get the level of representation that more local forms of governance can do.
Do you see where 'group rights' appear?
That's right, they don't.
There is no level of government that gets one 'new' right more than the individual already has to start with. In point of fact all of these creations are limited expressions of our entire suite of liberties and rights gained from Nature as individuals. Acting together we safeguard various negative liberties (ex. negative liberty of warfare, negative liberty of free movement, negative liberty of ownership) and then place those into other entities that are public in Nature and have agreed-upon reasons to utilize those negative liberties on our behalf and with our oversight. Thus to utilize the negative liberty of war, that is offensive war, we as a Nation must declare war with stated reasons why we do so. To utilize the negative liberty of free movement, that is restraining others from it, we must have a system of laws to describe how and why this is done. To utilize the negative liberty of ownership, that of seizure, we also put in place safeguards for our own goods and ensure that only certain laws can apply to seizure of the fruits of our positive liberty of ownship (that of purchase) and go after those who take without asking (theft).
We each have those negative liberties within us: we can be thieves, we can restrain others, we can fight war on our own. But we do not do so as we recognize that the exercise of those negative liberties are destructive to our family, our society and our Nation and even, in warfare, the very order between Nations. Thus International lawlessness begins at home with you, as I put it in a previous post. Just as Nations can disagree with the internationally agreed-upon system of treaties and reciprocity of same and become Rogue Nations, individuals can do likewise and become Terrorists, Pirates, Thieves and Brigands. The Nordic to Germanic view even has a special penalty to be applied by law and a name that goes with it. The concept is that those individuals who so badly break laws as to be seen as lawless then have the sanctuary of law, safety of law and recourse via law removed from them. They are placed outside the law as savages: Outlaws. At the scale of individuals Outlaws are the exacting equivalent to Rogue Nations and no one trusts either if you wish to remain alive. To win back trust can take a lifetime of penance and atonement for such activities that get you into that position. In fact governments have an easier time of it as a coup can instantly replace a lawless government with a lawful one, while an individual must make proof-positive of their worthiness to return to the bosom of society before they are allowed back to it.
LASTLY, the crime of piracy, or robbery and depredation upon the high seas, is an offense against the universal law of society; a pirate being, according to Sir Edward Coke,10 hostis humani generis [enemy to mankind]. As therefore he has renounced all the benefits of society and government, and has reduced himself afresh to the savage state of nature, by declaring war against all mankind, all mankind must declare war against him: so that every community has a right, by the rule of self-defense, to inflict that punishment upon him, which every individual would in a state of nature have been otherwise entitled to do, any invasion of his person or personal property.
BY the ancient common law, piracy, if committed by a subject, was held to be a species of treason, being contrary to his natural allegiance; and by an alien to be felony only: but now, since the statute of treasons, 25 Edw. III. c. 2. it is held to be only felony in a subject.11 Formerly it was only cognizable by the admiralty courts, which proceed by the rule of the civil law.12 But, it being inconsistent with the liberties of the nation, that any man's life should be taken away, unless by the judgment of his peers, or the common law of the land, the statute 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15. established a new jurisdiction for this purpose; which proceeds according to the course of the common law, and of which we shall say more hereafter.
The US Admiralty jurisdiction exists as a sub-set of the larger civil law code, but the activity of Piracy (and other forms of the negative liberty of war, also called Private War) being those of the martial kind can be prosecuted either via warfare executed against them in reaction to them, or via civil prosecution for those that turn themselves in to the civil courts for judgment. Thus jurisdiction depends upon condition of capture and customary law in regards to that, so that if caught by regular or designated private forces, martial law is utilized, and if caught via civil means, then civil law is the venue. If one is caught in the act of waging Private War, you have created your own battlefield by doing so. There is a very fine line between civil lawlessness and crimes of passion, and acts of war, and it is to our discredit that we do not highlight it so as to differentiate the two.
Just as a rogue individual can perform acts of war so, too, can Nations do so by not declaring war or claiming a pre-text of lawlessness in a civil realm by one Nation against another as a basis for warfare. These lines are very difficult to draw in a permanent fashion as societies and the rules within them, and then amongst Nations, shift over time, yet the very basic concept of legitimate warfare and illegitimate warfare are just as distinct as those between Public War and Private War. In fact the latter type is even of greater distinction as it is very easy to see if someone wears a uniform, fights under a flag, is accountable to a command structure and a Nation and follows the laws of war... or doesn't.
I utilize warfare as it is a fundamental liberty with strong positive and negative aspects that most clearly demonstrate how our Natural Liberties work when we apply reason to them. At the Nation level of the Law of Nations, it is also the final recourse when all other forms of reason between Nations fails. Thus a Nation exercising negative liberty of movement or ownership upon the people or goods of another Nation give rise to a casus belli, or cause for war. Yet we also see how getting into fights at a personal level, has exacting similarities and causes, although the offenses can be different. When one takes up to oppose an individual, however, it may be just a violation of civil laws and at one time dueling was a recognized way to have staged warfare in a single act to solve disputes at the lowest level of law. The ability of an individual to undermine not only civil law but international law by taking up arms is a direct expression of our Natural being within ourselves. It is one of the most primal rights we have as living beings in the Natural world and to try and shy away from it, to recoil from it as not existing is attempting to build a fantasy view of the real world that is not in accord with the actual world around you. And as I have described before, there is no good end to that, at all.