As bedtime readers of Eliot’s Four Quartets will know, he has an image of life (or history) as a series of corridors with doors opening off, and that what happens to us depends on which corridor we enter and which door we open, or don’t open.
T.S. Eliot (seen here) was of course not as banal as that. His haunting words were:
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.
At the critical moment in all legal history, Britain did not open the truth door and Europe did. Why? We may suspect it was partly because the people who ran Britain were a bunch of gangsters, and the man who ran Europe was reasonably honest, although perhaps overly severe on the largely inoffensive Cathars.
I am now suddenly unstrung by another accident of history. In 1972, William Angus Manson Gunn (1920-2001), onetime dashing wing three-quarter in Ipswich’s Bulimba Cup team, became Country Party (as it was called until 1974) member for the Queensland state seat of Somerset.
Bill became Deputy Premier in 1983, Police Minister in 1986 and in 1987, confronted with allegations of corruption in the force, he selected the aim, to find the truth, and the lawyers, Ian Callinan and Gerald Fitzgerald, to maintain the aim.
But what if the legendarily corrupt Premier, Bjelke-Petersen, had made the man with the truly heroic conk, Donald Frederick (Shady) Lane, bent copper and even benter politician, Minister for Police instead of Minister for Transport?
Among much else, there would have been no Fitzgerald inquiry; Bjelke and his police chief, Terry Lewis, would have gone on extorting bribes, and K. (Bull Moose) Packer would not have got Channel Nine back from A. Bond merely by yodelling Danny Boy.
As for your correspondent, the inquiry and subsequent trial of Lewis prompted a fatal question: why does one system of justice reveal evidence and the other hide it? The answer was devastating. Our system does not give a fig for truth; serial liars control the proceedings; and judges are not trained.
But that only prompts another question. Why do highly intelligent lawyers and judges apparently believe that such a system delivers justice to 1.6 billion, a quarter of the world’s population?
I asked the eminent jurist, B.S. Dawson, if legal people believe the unbelievable. He supplied this from page 16 of Alex Edelstein’s Total Propaganda (LEA. 1997):
“The late French philosopher Jacques Ellul [1912-94] (pic) observed that ‘modern elites use propaganda to defend their own values, and having produced this propaganda, they are the first to consume it’. This is a radical departure from the teachings of the old propaganda that said that only the least involved, the least informed, and the least knowledgeable are the readiest consumers of propaganda.”
Hmmm. Could that mean that Jackie really believes he didn’t have a deal to make a graceful exit from politics in 2001, or that his chum Edgar* believes the dangerous nonsense he causes to issue from the wooden head of Mr Mortimer Snerd?
The great P.J. Goebbels of the legal bizzo was W. Blackstone (1723-80), a serial liar who became the first common law academic. His successors unwittingly (I trust) recycle “truths” of the type noted by Mr V.I. Lenin (1870-1924): “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Here is a “truth”. The adversary system is the Rolls Royce of legal systems. I have actually heard former CJ (1987-95) Tony Mason utter those words without any visible trace of irony.
Here is another. The adversary system is the best system of justice, and that’s that. But to my knowledge no legal academic knows when and how the system began. If a mug reporter can find out, why don’t they?
I am thus inclined to give law schools much of the credit for the continuation of the unjust system. They follow Blackstone in teaching what the law “is”, not where it came from, or what’s wrong with it, which is much the same thing.
That may explain why they are referred to as sheltered workshops; it has been their humble business to, in effect, wash the brains of generations of students, and hence of future lawyers and judges.
However, some practitioners are turning against the system. Legal Week (UK) reported on July 7 that a survey of more than 100 senior partners at major law firms found that 40 percent agreed that the adversary system is “past its sell-by date”.
Perhaps some sheltered workshoppers will at last find the courage to open the door to the rose garden, i.e. by adopting the liberating policy enunciated in John 8 32: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
They will of course have to ignore the melancholy fact that those words are chiselled into the marble at the Langley, Virginia headquarters of the organisation which has for half a century been a world leader in serial lying, torture and terrorism.
*In The One Percent Doctrine (Simon & Schuster, June 20, 2006, currently #1 on Amazon’s list), Ron Suskind says Washington insiders refer to Dick Cheney as Edgar, from Edgar Bergen (1903-78), a ventriloquist (and father of Candice) who had a slow-witted puppet, Mortimer Snerd (pic). The title refers to Cheney’s insane view that if there is a one percent chance that some entity will do the US a mischief, the US has a right to take pre-emptive action against that entity.