Brehon Law

Brehon Law

Some seeds for visioning how we could actually live together as human beings: A talk by Kevin Flanagan Coombes on the Ancient Irish Legal system known as Brehon Law.

Some rough notes I took:

The ancient Brehon system is an example of a working anarchic society, an example of a voluntary system.

It did not have a state, you couldn’t impose an obligation on someone else.

This type of system does not mean no rules, it means no rulers.

It’s operated with the knowledge that no-one has an inherent right to create a rule and impose it on others.

Ireland had kings who were elected; and could be de-elected as quickly. They had no power to make laws or to tax.

No man/woman can be obliged to do something unless he has agreed to do it.

No police force, no prison; the judge could not enforce his judgments.

Principled and well established law system based on agreements, customs developed, then perceived to be a law.

“laws were as old as the rocks” -inherent (Natural)

carried it (inherent law) with you everywhere you went. Justice was loved.

In early Ireland, a crime was considered a lapse in the standards of personal honor and brotherly kindness

the system was polycentric — laws were with the people at the bottom. they made the ‘laws’ and it went up the chain. bottom up, not top down.

the legal class were the Brehons, their job was to learn the customs that had already been established by the people

They were not interested in punishing people or attributing blame; they were interested in >> Solutions

Despite Ireland being christianized in late 400s AD and despite various invasions, the law system stayed in tact because it was polycentric and it worked– no standing army, no state laws. The system of law was so successful, the crown had to resort to brutality with the Penal Laws in order to get control.

Is this society possible today?

Develop decentralized systems and networks

Deep down we want this. To feel in our hearts a beat of freedom. And know that our ancestors lived like this.

If you have a legal system imposed by an outside force, how can you carry that in your heart? How can you stand up in principle and support these ideals?

Spontaneous order is what happens when humans are left to themselves.