Monday, January 28, 2013

Who knew?

Having never been a great fan of Jeremy Bentham's - a very dull writer and thinker - I was astonished to discover that he defined one of the great modern historical developments and invented a word for it.
In his most famous work, written in 1780 but not published until the end of the decade in 1789, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, he writes as follows:

“XXV. In the second place, with regard to the political quality of the persons whose conduct is the object of the law. These may, on any given occasion, be considered either as members of the same state, or as members of different states: in the first ease, the law may be referred to the head of internal, in the second case, to that of international jurisprudence.”

Then comes his explanation:

“The word international, it must be acknowledged, is a new one; though, it is hoped, sufficiently analogous and intelligible. It is calculated to express, in a more significant way, the branch of law which goes commonly under the name of the law of nations….."
Quite so. Nothing wrong with the law of nations or international but when it turns into transnational then we are in trouble. (Unless we are talking about the British Empire.)

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