'Production Versus Plunder' Part 26 – The Natural Progress of Things
By Paul Rosenberg - September 26, 2015

"The natural progress of things," Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "is for liberty to yield and for government to gain ground." Today we'll see how this process began in Europe, and one of the first steps in the evolution of European law.

Continued from last week


Medieval guilds were exclusive organizations, created to preserve the rights and privileges of their members. The guild was self-created power. (Again, the Europeans seeing to things themselves.) The guild was separate and distinct from the civic governments, although wealthy guildsmen soon enough sought positions in city governments and blurred the lines.

Guilds were entirely city organizations. There was no place for a guild where specialization of labor didn't exist; they only arose where cities formed and specialists were required.

Merchant guilds were the first to appear, at around the year 1000. These were mutual protection societies for traveling merchants. In other words, these were traders who banded together and developed ways to protect themselves while traveling through Europe on business. They went so far as to found their own towns, as we will examine later in this chapter. This was the rebirth of trade, this time on a decentralized model.

Craft guilds followed the merchant guilds, and normally included people engaged in the same occupation, such as bakers, cobblers, stone masons and carpenters. Again, these were self-created organizations for mutual aid. And, again, as the guildsmen became wealthy (or, more usually, their children), they sought positions of municipal power. Once in position, the guild would soon use that power to forbid any non-members from practicing their trade. Local rulers were also eager to control the guilds, and laws were soon passed that forced all guild members to takes oaths of loyalty.

This process is one that is seen over and over:

  1. A fresh start is made, independently, by unauthorized individuals.
  2. The new venture gains popularity with other individuals.
  3. Rulers seek to bring it under their control. Since the new venture has been accepted by many people, this is done in a subversive way, usually by offering official recognition.
  4. The group grows into a formal organization, and second- or third-generation members seek positions of authority within the organization. Thus focused on authority, they seek to join themselves with still greater authority – usually a state.
  5. Once in a position of authority, the organization uses state power to magnify itself and to enrich its members by punishing and suppressing competition.
  6. Eventually the organization goes too far and the situation changes. The organization fails, grasping and abusing all the power it can on the way down.

Soon enough, the purpose of the guilds became to maintain a monopoly of a particular craft – but some more so, some less. Manufacturing guilds, for example, tended to establish reputations for quality rather than restricting competitors. These people wanted to expand their sales and needed to convince people in distant places to buy their products. They wanted more people involved. Victualling guilds, on the other hand – the groups that sold foods – were big on restraining trade. People didn't need to be convinced to buy their products, since biology did that for them – their customers became hungry every day, no matter what. So, with no need to convince people to buy, they went about to forcibly restrain trade and to raise their prices as high as they could.

There was usually a strong religious aspect to guild membership. This functioned as a way of enforcing the good behavior of the guild members; it may also have acted as a hedge against local officials and their power: I am connected to the Church; don't mess with me.

As the guilds failed after the Reformation, many turned to governments, asking them to enforce monopolies on manufacturing1 or trade and to force members to pay back obligations. Where governments provided such force, the guilds hung on. In the absence of force, they did not.


It is established by authority of the divine law that the prince is subject to the law and to justice. – John of Salisbury

Since the rulers at this time had a minimum of direct legitimacy (the Church seizing as much as was possible) the previously mentioned John of Salisbury faced relatively few difficulties when he published his book Policraticus, which was highly critical of them. (And from which the quote above is taken.) John proposed that the prince should be subject to law. The Church, conveniently, supported this idea, primarily because they always wanted to keep the princes under control. As mentioned previously, this was not easy to do, since they had very limited force to use. And, since divinity was included in John's formulation, the Church signed on and the idea stuck.

During the Classical era, the citizen was considered the seat of sovereignty. As Western society evolved, however, sovereignty slowly accrued to "the law," instead of to the people or to the rulers. The ruler was legitimated by upholding law. The ruler was considered illegitimate if he failed to uphold law. Over time, the Sovereignty of Law became the code of Western civilization.

But this did not spring into place in a moment, even after John's formulation was published in about 1159. It spread slowly and in different forms in the various parts of the West, but especially as the common law of England.

Before we cover two of the more important developments in law, it is very important to understand that what people in modern times think of as "law" is actually a very recent development. Hundreds of years ago – when the Rule of Law began – "law" meant something very different.

Here is a passage from Bruno Leoni's Freedom and The Law that provides some historical perspective:

The Roman jurist was a sort of scientist: the objects of his research were the solutions to cases that citizens submitted to him for study, just as industrialists might submit to a physicist or to an engineer a technical problem concerning their plants or their production. Hence, private Roman law was something to be described or discovered, not something to be enacted… Nobody enacted that law; nobody could change it by any exercise of his personal will.

The critical distinction to make is that "law" and "legislation" are not the same thing, or at least were not.

Properly, law was a process of determining whether actions were just or unjust. In practical terms, laws were the findings of judges. They were not edicts and commands; they were opinions, and were valuable because they explained justice and its reasonable application. A judge was called a Justice for good cause – he discovered, defined and explained justice to all men.

Legislation, in old times, were merely collections of laws (legal findings), put together into one group for convenience. It was only much later that legislation became a type of edict. (We will cover this further in a forthcoming chapter.)

So, in understanding the creation of the Rule of Law, we should not think of legislation; that came much later and greatly confuses the issue. "The rule of law" was certainly not "the rule of legislation."


1Though seldom noted, it is important to remember that monopolies associated with the state function only with violence backing them: Anyone attempting to enter the same business as the approved monopoly will be forcibly punished, either by being jailed or by having their goods confiscated.

* * * * *

To be continued…

Click here for links to all weekly segments of Production Versus Plunder at The Daily Bell.

You can get much more from Paul Rosenberg in his unique monthly newsletter, Free-Man's Perspective.

  • Jim Johnson

    I marvel still, after decades, at the quiet thread my Freemasonry weaves into the fabric of civilization. They had (have) but one objective: To Build. It was found that human genius erupts through an insistence on peace and harmony, finding it not restricted to certain blood lines but from the most ignorant of farm kids. They gravitated towards Best Practices, letting the work of their hands speak for itself.

  • Bill Ross

    PR: “The rule of law” was certainly not “the rule of legislation.”

    …meaning NOT “rule of legislators (man)”
    …NOR “rule of political wonk (man) on the bench”

    current situation (grim) is a fraudulent “bait and switch” TO “false authority”`(religious, pseudo scientific, majority / false groupthink,
    any falsely framed rationalizations MSM / subverted education can sell …) FROM “equal right to life, to peacefully choose”.

    The scales of justice BALANCE “equal right to life”, a MEASURABLE quantity. Opinion is NOT real and cannot be measured, nor even verified as true (non-lie). Current judges WEIGH opinions and assumed motives within the context of their personal myopia, subject to whoever is coercing them. Machiavelli, in “The Prince” recommended magistrates as a diversion and delaying tactic, to provide false hope to delay / divert re-evolution. Current judges are in a contradictory TRAP and state: “Not only must justice be done, but the perception of justice must be maintained”, ceding power of law to those who control perceptions.

    No state “department of justice”, planet-wide will ADMIT this REAL truth (a product of nature of reality epiphany which spawned the Renaissance with the consequence of western civilization: “We exist in an action PRECEDES consequence reality”:

    Justice Defined: “Every individual is responsible for the consequences, good or bad of their own actions.”

    REAL “rule of law”:

    Use it, or, lose it (civilization)

    What is currently happening is the historical forces of feudalism are seeking revenge and attempting to restore divine rights of kings
    (alliance of arbitrary rulers and mystics) by a terminology / pretext swap from religious mysticism to pseudo scientific mysticism.

    They seek a stable answer to the question of “why should we be slaves”, when by the nature of reality and survival imperative of mankind, we cannot be so without collapsing civilization, causing great conflict and triaging a large portion of humanity.

    These serial crimes against mankind and civilization have been going on for FAR TOO LONG:

    BTW, the purpose of the Pope`s visit was initial talks regarding re-unification of church and state, reversing “separation of church and

    It is YOUR CHOICE, summing to COLLECTIVE CHOICE (unseen hand) whether or not we have global servitude, which by its nature IS an enemy of man, destroying mankinds best and brightest resulting in in Dark Age II, halting and reversing mankinds ceaseless quest to

    Luckily, 95% of mankind is waking up, pushing back and girding their loins against the 5% psychopaths and DEMANDING “rule of law”, as opposed to “rule of them”. Next few years, as NOW wont be pretty. The addicts to other peoples money and power must hit bottom and they will take us and civilization with them if unopposed.

    • dave jr

      “BTW, the purpose of the Pope`s visit was initial talks regarding re-unification of church and state,…”
      Also, possibly to soften Congress ahead of cop21 in November. The US Congress has yet to sign on to the carbon credit scheme.

      • Bill Ross

        carbon credit schemes doomed to fail, but, creates a lot of make work jobs for the state, consuming productive resources for the unproductive. Boggles the mind that people can believe this save the planet (or anything else) crap, when the real point is save their sorry asses and to hell with anything or anyone else.

        …and the Vatican Bank is highly invested and at risk in this area.

        • dave jr

          Of course it is doomed to fail, but it only needs to sound plausible in the short run in order to get the legislation through. Time is running short for the green agenda because data and counterpoints are leaking in and truth does prevail over the long run. Once the legislation is passed, then the self avowed almighty can deploy the police state and/or military, even if under false pretense, claiming legitimate rule of (bogus) law. Meanwhile world funding for NATO and the MIC has been secured by a carbon tax and the plug can finally, safely be pulled on the tired and waning US petro dollar (don’t confuse the current run up with viability). It is not by accident that austerity is the rout for militarily inconsequential nations like Greece, and that in the US, the terminology is sequester.

          • Bill Ross


            U No U wanna

          • dave jr

            What’s this Bill? You counter intelligence? U no U wanna come clean.

          • Bill Ross

            depends on the definition of “intelligence”. By mine, I am counter stupidity, or an agent Bureau of Sabotage, of unstated power and scope:


  • 2prickit

    How convenient for today’s World Order, that Thomas Jefferson was not an attendee at the Founding of the US Constitution.

    • dave jr

      Jefferson was commissioned for his eloquent writing, huh. He must have had a degree of personal doubt as he did give us many warnings.