Hagbard Celine and the MPs’ Expenses Scandal

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Hagbard Celine and the MPs’ Expenses Scandal

As an antidote to the relentless cavalcade of hubris, hypocrisy and moral indignation stoked up by the cataclysmic faeces-to-fan proximity problem that’s known locally as the MPs’ Expenses Scandal, here’s a little something from the satirist, guerrilla ontologist and former editor of Playboy, Robert Anton Wilson. Its the Third Law of Wilson’s fictional gentleman anarchist Hagbard Celine, and it goes something like this:

An honest politician is a national calamity

At first glance, this seems preposterous. People of all shades of opinion agree that at least on the axiom that we need more honest politicians, not more crooked ones. Please remember, however, that people of all shades of opinion once agreed that the Earth is flat.

Your typical dishonest politician (bocca grande normalis) is interested only in enriching himself at the public expense, a goal he shares with most of his fellow citizens, especially doctors and lawyers. This is normal behavior for our primate species, and society has always been able to endure and survive it.

An honest politician (bocca grande giganticus) is far more dangerous. He or she is sincerely committed to bettering society by political action. In practice, that means by writing and enacting more laws. Indeed, many groups of idealistic citizens publish rating sheets on politicians every year, and those who have created more laws are estimated as having higher value than those who are frequently absent when bills are voted upon. The assumption is that adding more laws to statute books is a positive achievement, like adding more money to our paychecks or more art works to a museum.

A little thought, however, shows that this assumption is not tenable. Every law creates a whole new criminal class; for instance, when marijuana was illegalized in 1937, several hundred thousand formerly law-abiding citizens became criminals overnight, by Act of Congress. As more and more laws are passed, more and more citizens become criminals. The chief cause of the rising crime rate is the rising number of laws being enacted. An honest politician, who keeps his nose to the grindstone and enacts several hundred laws in the course of his career, thereby produces as many as several million new criminals.

It is furthermore mathematically demonstrable that the more laws there are, the more restrictions there are on the freedom of the individual. If there were, say, only three laws in a given society—e.g., Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not lie or defraud—there would be only three restrictions on freedom, which all rational persons would accept as obviously necessary to the maintenance of order. When there are several hundred thousand restrictions on freedom, most of them are felt as extremely irksome by large segments of the populace.

In fact, it would take a brigade of lawyers several weeks, minutely examining your affairs, to determine if you are a criminal. Certainly, no ordinary citizen has the time or research facilities to discover if he or she is in violation of one out of skillions of laws currently on our statute books. In many cases, two lawyers consulted independently will give opposite opinions about whether or not a given course of action is in violation of the statutes.

And new laws are being enacted all the time. Obviously, unless there is a sudden paper shortage, the number of laws on the books will eventually reach the point satirized by T.H.White, in which “everything not prohibited is compulsory.” It would then probably only take a few years or decades more for a cadre of honest politicians diligently writing even more laws to reach the complementary point where “everything not compulsory is prohibited.”

At that stage the nightmare world of Orwell’s 1984 will be achieved. Crooked politicians, merely interested in the normal human activity of making themselves rich and comfortable, could never create that ultimate horror; but honest and idealistic politicians bring us closer to it every day, with every new law they enact.

From Robert Anton Wilson – The Illuminati Papers

Please remember: Hagbard Celine is a fictional character. The views and opinions expressed by him are fictitious and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Tom Lennon’s Blog or any of its affiliates. This disclaimer, of course, does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Hagbard Celine.

Step away from the fnord.


About the Author:

My name is Tom Lennon and I'm a freelance writer who specialises in humour at the geekier end of the pop culture spectrum. I'm based in Birmingham, UK, and my work has recently appeared in BuzzFeed and Time Out.

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