“What is Treason today?” … by Robert Henderson

This article has already made several appearances on newsgroups, some in the last couple of days. It appeared again this morning on http://www.yahoogroups.com/eurorealist . It deserves wider circulation.

Libertarians often argue about this matter of treason. Whereas the definition could one have been cut-and-dried, as in the 1340s, in which you could be “being adherent to the King’s enemies, within the realm and elsewhere”, or “offering aid and comfort to the King’s enemies”.  Now in today’s increasingly-all-powerful Big State Environment, treason could merely be what the party-in-power, or even the County Police Chief-Superintendent, thinks it is at that time. We need opinions on this matter. Here’s RH:-

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Robert Henderson

Treason is a famously slippery word, not least for the reason
enshrined in the oft-quoted but, because it contains a
savage truth, eternally potent rhyme:

Treason never prospers,
What’s the reason?
For if it does
None dare call it treason.

Yet elusive as it is, treason clearly has an objective
reality, a reality, moreover, whose essence is changeless.
That quality is betrayal which goes beyond the personal.
If a friend betrays you to another friend that is not
treason. If a fellow countryman betrays you to an occupying
power that is.

As a legal concept, treason has been redrawn during the
past millennium. In a dynastic context, where the king is
king in executive fact as well as name, treason is the
betrayal of the sovereign by a person who owes him
allegiance. That betrayal may be through disloyalty or an
attempt to harm the person of the monarch (and generally his
family). By extension, the same applies to those to whom the
monarch’s executive power is delegated. Kill the King’s man
and you attack the King.

But treason in dynastic circumstances was not a
straightforward matter of simply plotting against the king
or attempting harm to the king’s person or doing the same to
his representatives. A great noble or courtier close to
the king might well lose his head through being deemed to
have given “evil counsel” to the monarch, even though that
counsel had been accepted and acted upon by the king. The
“evil counsellor” would be blamed (and probably executed)
to ensure that the monarch was not held to account.

The idea of “evil counsel” had an important effect in English
constitutional development and a consequent broadening of
the idea of treason. Evil counsellors were generally
identified not by the king but by others, most notably
Parliament. Thus the practical application of the idea of the
evil counsellor both reinforced the idea that the monarch
was not a completely independent agent and created the idea
that any man involved in politics owed not merely his formal
loyalty to the king (and later the people), but also should
take care to act and speak in a way which would not be to the
disadvantage of the king and his subjects.

The notion of treason evolved in Europe because monarchs
have rarely if ever been able to act indiscriminately in
their own interests. Indeed, European monarchs have been
remarkably unsuccessful in creating efficient and lasting
despotisms. Because of that, their subjects never truly
succumbed to politically debilitating ideas such as the
divine right of kings. Rather they expected of a king duty
as well self-promotion and satisfaction. The concept of the
unjust prince was well developed by 1100 and culminated in
the doctrine of tyranicide developed by John of Salisbury in
the 12th Century. Here is Manegold of Lautenbach writing
in the 11th Century:
No man can make himself emperor or king; a people
sets a man over it to the end that he may rule
justly, giving to every man his own, aiding good
men and coercing bad, in short, that he may give
justice to all men. If then he violates the
agreement according to which he was chosen,
disturbing and confounding the very things which be
was meant to put in order, reason dictates that he
absolves the people from their obedience,
especially when he has himself first broken the
faith which bound him and the people together.*

* Quoted by A.J. and R.W. Carlyle in A history of Medieval Political
Theory in the West , Vol. III, p. 164, n. 1.

For Manegold a people’s allegiance to its ruler is a promise
to support him in his lawful undertakings and is consequently
void in the case of a tyrant. In a sense, a tyrant committed
treason by dishonouring the office of monarch and its implied
and inherent obligations.

Restraints on the monarch were given formal status by their
coronation oaths. In England, Magna Carta (1215) moved
matters on to another stage where a monarch was forced to
agree to direct constraints on his power. The example of
Magna Carta in turn led to the development of the English
Parliament, which moved from a petitioning and tax granting
body in the 14th century to the point where it practically,
if not in theory, usurped the power of the king.

As the power of monarchs waned, the emphasis of who was
betrayed gradually moved to the idea that the entire
population of a country was an entity in itself and betrayal
of that entity amounted to treason. The shift from monarch
to people was completed with the advent of the formally
democratic state, where, in theory at least, the general
population became the sovereign.

Of what does treason consist in the formally democratic
nation state? Generally it must be the conscious decision to
act in a way which will weaken the integrity of the nation
state. Betrayal in the old manner of spying or acting for an
enemy in war is still part of that. But the primary treason
in the modern formally democratic state is more insidious.
It is the abrogation of the sovereignty of the nation state
by immersement in larger political entities and through the
signing of treaties which restrict the opportunity for
national self-determination.

This raises an interesting question, namely can an elected
politician commit treason if the treasonable activity is
part of an election manifesto or it is put to a referendum?
The textbook answer would be that ultimate sovereignty in a
formal democracy lies practically and morally, if not always
legally, with the electorate. An electorate which elects a
party or individual on a manifesto or votes yes in a
referendum is considered to be tacitly granting the policy
legitimacy. However, there are strong objections to this

The first is that the treasonable activity may be
misrepresented by the party or politician. A classic example
of this is Britain’s entry into what is now the European
Union (EU). The British electorate were undeniably
deliberately misled by the 1970 Tory manifesto into
believing that they were merely joining a free trade area.
They were deliberately misled again during the 1975
referendum on Britain’s continued membership. They have been
deliberately misled consistently in the 25 years since the
referendum, being told by every government that British
sovereignty is not being lost, when massive amounts have been
ceded. That is treason by any meaningful definition that has
ever been used in the past.

But what if all the sovereignty which had been ceded to the
EU had been done after it was presently honestly to the
electorate? Suppose every change had been the subject of a
referendum. Suppose those referendums had been conducted
with absolutely fairness. What then? Here the old idea of
“evil counsellors” has utility. In the modern formal
democracy, politicians play the role of counsellors. Where
their counsel is bad and the results of it disadvantages the
people to which they owe their good sense and loyalty, then
that might be said to be treasonable. Our representatives
owe us their best judgement and courage. If they act in a way
which is compromised by considerations other than their
honest judgement and that action has results which are
treasonable, they are guilty of treason. Not only that, but
the representative must be honest about the foreseeable
consequences of what they propose. In the representative’s
special position, treason may be committed though acts of
omission as well as commission, through not pointing out

What are the great particular treasons of our time? They can
be defined in terms of what causes damage to the viability of
the nation state. In the case of Britain, the most dramatic
formal act of damaging the nation state has been our
membership of the EU. But that is only one of a number of
serious attacks on the British state and people. The
permitting of mass immigration is a profound form of treason,
for mass immigration is a form of conquest. North America is
now dominated by the white man because of a slow accretion of
settlement not through sudden and violent conquest. To that
treason is linked its sister act, the attempted cultural
cleansing of the native population of Britain in general and
the English in particular, through the wilful denigration of
the native population of this country, the deliberate denial
to them of their history in our schools and the suppression
of dissent through the power of the state, willingly assisted
by the mass media.

To those may be added these others which are patently
against our interests. Entering into treaties which remove
freedom of action from the country, for example those
governing membership of the World Trade Organisation. The
failure to maintain the country’s military capacity and the
use of what military we have in foreign adventures in which
Britain has no natural interest. The deliberate refusal to
ensure that the country’s economic capacity can supply all
essential items in time of emergency, in particular the
securing of the food supplies. The spending of taxpayers’
money on foreign peoples. All these treasons, and those of
the preceding paragraphs, apply to a lesser or greater degree
throughout the First World.

Our own time has brought a new problem of definition to
treason. The elite ideology of the moment is Liberal
Internationalism. This might seem to be a direct challenge
to the very idea of treason, for where neither the primacy of
the nation nor the authority of a sovereign is recognised,
against whom is treason committed? The answer is that for
the Liberal Internationalist, treason is any dissent from his
ideology. Treason has put on totalitarian clothes.

Unfortunately, the Liberal Internationalist propaganda has
been so successful that treason has an old fashioned ring to
the modern Briton. It is mocked along with the very idea of
patriotism. So long have the British been at peace, so safe
does everyday life seem, so ruthlessly have the liberal elite
and their educational and media nomenclatura promoted the
idea that the time of the nation state is passed, that even
naturally patriotic Britons find the idea of treason an
uncomfortable one.

That is a mortally dangerous because a belief that treason
may be committed is vitally important if we wish to maintain
our independence. It is so because the nation state requires
a concept of treason as a foundation of its integrity. We
desperately need to understand the nature of treason and act
upon it for our own protection.

Robert Henderson
Blair Scandal website: http://www.geocities.com/ blairscandal/
Personal website: http://www.anywhere.demon.co.uk

One comment

  1. The whole idea of treason is a construct of the state in order to expand its power over the individual citizen. If, acting in rational self-interest, an individual fails to give the alarm when the neighboring tribe is attacking, he is only minding his own business. And if this person is compensated by the other tribe for his silence this is simply a mutually beneficial contract. It is not the business of anybody else.

    There is no common good for an army. Only individual goods for individual soldiers. Victory is not a common good. Some soldiers value comfort more than victory. Some value life more than sacrifice so they run away. Who can blame them? Economists are clearly in agreement that rational self-interest is laudable and natural. It is unnatural for a person to put himself in danger without a guarantee of future benefit. It is one thing to undertake a risky investment voluntarily, knowing well the possible outcomes and with both parties bound to their respective parts with papers signed and lawyers present. It is quite another for a citizen to be coerced into fighting a battle that he isn’t sure about for a so-called “victory” that he isn’t sure about and of which his personal benefit is not explicitly spelled out. Not to mention the vague contract is not voluntary but forced upon him.

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