‘The Past is a Foreign Country’

By skepticlawyer

After the kerfuffle over my first novel, I swore I would never write historical fiction ever again. I went to considerable trouble to catch the racist, sexist, ignorant attitudes and milieu of my characters only to be accused of making excuses for them. This was proof to me that people are not capable of bearing much reality, and that historians are some of the worst offenders. They grow up liking the past, but then try to fit the past into modern values and frameworks. In so doing, they forget two fundamental lessons: (1) people in the past had reasons for what they did, however spurious to modern eyes and ears those reasons may be and (2) people in the past (with the exception of science and technology, which really does evince linear progression) were capable of being very clever, sometimes cleverer than we are now.

My problem was that I’d grown up reading science fiction, and the best science fiction authors don’t try to make their imagined civilisations resemble ours. Think of the cultures in Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, or the Centauri in Babylon 5. In the latter, even good and kind Vir Cotto, the Centauri Everyman — when confronted with Morden, the Shadow puppet and envoy — imagines the defeated Morden’s head impaled on a stake, so that he can wave to it with glee.

I have to say I’ve always considered the Centauri a serious case of ‘Romans in Space’.

This prohibition on writing historical fiction (apart from doing other stuff in my life, like studying law and working as a lawyer) meant that I didn’t write for a long time. Problem was, I kept being drawn to historical fiction plots and ideas, you see. And every time I felt the temptation, I excised it. I will never write historical fiction again. End of. As part of my pledge, I have stopped reading it as well, which is a hard trial: it means giving up Lindsay Davis and Ellis Peters, and also means I won’t get to read anything by this bloke, who I suspect has the goods on the novel writing front. Even if it is historical fiction.

Then, last year, the other option available to me presented itself. I’m a lawyer. I like well done police procedurals and courtroom drama. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time in courtrooms, so I can write about trials with a fair degree of accuracy and elan.

Except the historical fiction idea wouldn’t go away.

So I combined the two, all the while avoiding actual historical fiction. And wrote a novel.

My ‘query‘ (as they are called in the business, so I learned) to my (now) agent ran as follows:

Pontius Pilate is a successful corporate lawyer headhunted by the Roman Senate to run a difficult province in need of a gentler, civilian touch. He’s been in the job five years — and is starting to get the hang of it — when the Yeshua Ben Yusuf file lands on his desk. This is not ideal right now. Judaea is in the midst of a major terrorism crisis, his wife keeps threatening to go back to Caesarea (she can’t stand Jerusalem), his son is becoming far too friendly with the High Priest’s son, and his boss keeps forgetting that he isn’t actually in the army. Even worse, his closest friend and greatest rival from law school is Ben Yusuf’s lawyer. A Jerusalem courtroom is the setting for the first clash of civilisations, where people from a fundamentally different tradition are forced to engage with religious ideas that in many respects they do not want to understand.

What is most distinctive about the book is my imagining of what a technologically advanced pagan civilisation would look like. That is, what if the Romans won much of their empire under conditions that we associate with the Industrial Revolution? What if — with their distinctive, non-Christian moral values — they were gifted with all that immense fire-power and confronted with monotheistic terrorists?

I do not think the Romans were secular in the modern sense, and I haven’t portrayed them as such. They were, however, very different from the monotheistic peoples they confronted in Judaea. My Roman characters are still religious, but differently religious. Unlike many authors of a skeptical bent, I do not seek to score cheap shots by denigrating religion per se. Rather, Bring Laws & Gods recognises the persistent vitality of religious traditions, especially when their practitioners are confronted with overwhelming military power and physical occupation by non-believers.

This book is as topical as today’s news headlines from the Middle East.

Needless to say, I got my agent (my first choice, too) and am now in the editing process for the novel. He needs it before Christmas, so I’m busy getting it ship-shape and Bristol fashion. I didn’t have an agent for the first one (which gives you an idea of how unknown I was before winning all those gongs), something I felt needed to be remedied this time around.

Choosing not to write ‘actual historical fiction’ freed me from trying to make the past like the present, which I suspect both Gary Corby and Lindsay Davis have had to do, even if only to a limited degree. Marcus Falco and Helena Justina (Roman women didn’t change their names on marriage) don’t like gladiatorial shows, for example, and they’re not Stoics. This, historically, is about as likely as St Paul campaigning for gay rights or Karl Marx coming out in favour of feudal privilege. It means I’ve also had a terrific time playing with all the ways in which the Romans differed from us moderns. Need to torture a suspect? No problems with Geneva Conventions, just make an application to court in the correct form. Wife won’t put out? If you’re rich, get a concubine; if you’re not well-to-do, visit what’s euphemistically called ‘the Greek Quarter’. Don’t rape your wife, though, because she’ll divorce you and take half your property if you do.

I hat-tipped (with a deliberate misquote) the heading to this post in my first novel, and to my irritation, people didn’t get it. This time, I’ve made the present a foreign country as well, and as the book goes through the publication process, I’ll be sharing bits of it with our readers and encouraging you to pop into your local bookshop and pick up a copy when the time comes.

And don’t worry, I’ll still be lawyering. The literary establishment is safe from me ever being a full-time writer. I get too much of a kick out of litigation.


  1. Posted September 23, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] says “libertarians are relatively harmless creatures. Strange creatures but harmless. I’ll never understand ém.”

    Those both economic libertarians and social authoritarians are extremely dangerous in my view (so-called libertarian left). I wonder which of the following class our friends who are both social and economic libertarians would consider more harmless or harmful, which, I suppose translates as which form of intervention is more intolerable:

    a) social liberals, economic interventionists
    b) economic liberals, social interventionists.

    I’d much rather live under traditional Roman rules than when it was bastardized by abrahamic authorities after Julian and before the rediscovery of the classics the lef to the renaissance. If you want to compare an abrahamic world with a roman one, look to europe’s dark ages when abrahamism was top dog, or look to shariah-besotted states, particularly the wahabist ones.

  2. Posted September 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Dave B,

    I don’t see economic libertarians as dangerous because by their own admission their ideas will never be widely accepted. Markets have always been regulated and need to be regulated if only because all human behavior is in some sense regulated. The appeal to “automatic stabilisers” and equilibrium is only an appeal, the world don’t work like that. Most economists and politicians recognise that. Even Greenspan before a Congressional Hearing admitted his economic libertarianism was repudiated by reality. So I cannot perceive how the extreme free market views can become dominant. Perhaps I’m being optimistic but I think as a society we now realise that is not an option.

  3. Posted September 24, 2010 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    [email protected] One libertarian principle is “rules rather than discretion”. That seems quite a good one to me. And it is important to have people with sceptical take on regulation, because there is a lot of bad regulation.

    [email protected] Can I speak up for the medieval period. It produced the common law, the representative principle (a medieval, not a Classical, creation), the notion of charity as a serious social activity, the concept of chivalry, government as contract with citizens and balance of forces, started the process of abolishing slavery, started the creation of a machine-based economy. Our civilisation is a lot more medieval-based than Classical-based.

    Since I have now been outed as a pre-reader :), I enjoyed Bring Laws and Gods lots. I found it very easy to go with the flow, and the ideas were embedded in a story that worked and characters that engaged.

    Good alternative history I find great fun (though it is easy for it to irritate me: either by having postulates I find implausible or failing to remember to have a good story and characters you care about — see Turtledove). I particularly enjoy the works of S M Stirling.

  4. Patrick
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    I would much rather live in the most recent part of history I possibly could, and ideally the future. I would much rather live in the freest (yes DB, this means the most libertarian) world because history appears to teach us that the freer the world the richer it is, and the richer the world is the happier everyone is.

    I would hate to live even 50 years ago unless I knew I was one of the privileged classes, and I would hate to live more than a few hundred years ago no matter how privileged I knew I was going to be. I may be undersexed, but I don’t see my own army and unlimited sex with slaves making up for syphilis and death from typhoid at the age of 35!! (That is not a dig at you, SL!!).

  5. Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Representative government was Roman; Polybius goes into gory and grisly detail about it, and there is an abundance of evidence for it in other Roman social institutions (eg, the priests and priestesses who planned Rome’s vast festivals were all elected from among their fellows; they borrowed the senate-house when the Senate wasn’t sitting to do their organising). You obviously didn’t need all the Arval Brethren or Priestesses of Cybele or whoever; you elected only one and sent him or her. Likewise community associations and collegia routinely sent delegates to other, larger organisations and governing bodies. We have extensive records of some of these elections, especially among Roman colonial administrators in Asia Minor.

    Local council elections in Roman cities and towns were also representative (to elect the mayors (duumviri); Romans always had 2 at once) and city councillors. We have extensive documentation of one of these because Vesuvius decided to erupt all over Pompeii a week out from the local council elections in 79AD.

    Agree about charity, although the Jews may want to claims first dibs on that 🙂

    As part of my current job, I’m having to ‘convert’ to Scots law, which of course is based on Roman law. I am constantly amazed at how English common lawyers and Roman jurists encountered identical problems and solved them in very similar ways, although the logical starting point is often different. It is just about proof positive for Hayek’s spontaneous order and independent legal evolution.

    The problem, of course, is that it happened in those two civilisations (Roman and English) and nowhere else (with the partial exception of the Mongols and their Yassa). Reading classical Greek law codes (many of them lacked even the presumption of innocence, or a distinction between murder and manslaughter, for example), or stuff from the Islamic world is a lesson in how not to do law.

    I do wonder sometimes if the law developed so well in those places because both the Romans and the English were very mercantile peoples. If you want to do business, then you need good law, especially a robust law of contract (emerged very strongly and very early in both cultures).

    I do like that the Romans had no doctrine of consideration, and also agreed with Megarry V-C that ‘constructive is an unhappy word in the law’.

    I’ll stop with the legal pedantry now…

  6. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Lorenzo on Medieval inventions: I’m with SL on representation here, and to be frank, I’m no fan of Common Law, which I see as making it hard to overturn bad precedent. That’s another debate.

    i’d also argue the the beginnings of abolition of slavery (serfdom being in the same class to my mind) stemmed less from medieval inventiveness than the effectiveness of pathogens in diminishing the supply of labor. (The increases in average wealth as population dropped is a lesson we could contemplate for the modern era).

    I’d also argue that notions of chivalry are not medieval, but pre-Roman, one finds an excellent example of it in the supplemental stories of Gilgamesh, who defeated an army at Uruk’s gates with minimal blood, and sent the opposing king /and the opposing army/ (the underlings usually incapable of paying ransom, so useless to chivalric action) not into slavery, but back home with a promise of friendship.

    Chivalry (e.g. I won’t kill you because I want the ransom money) is a common feature in various Trojan tales, but the purer kind is outlined by Priam so well even a vainglorious dolt like Achilles could understand. (Oh dear, appealing to the authority of Homer! Never thought I’d do that).

    When central authority and infrastructure broke down, previously used tribal structures re-emerged and had to aim at the higher bar the Romans had set – one can see their prototypes outlined as the strengths and virtues of teutons in the Germania of Tactitus, with some of those virtues /not/ brought across into the feudal system.

    As to Greek law, it has a couple of features I’d like re-introduced. I quite like the notion from Socrates’ trial of, once found guilty, prosecution and defence both propose sentences, which the jury picks between, as this would tend to make both proposals ballpark fair. Socrates “Yeah, I’m guilty of corrupting the city, so you should pay me a pension” would have been unusual and begging for the hemlock. The other feature is ostracism… Bye bye fielding, bye bye conroy… Banned from canberra as pollies of department heads or ambassadors.

    SL’s book reminds us of past approaches which could be adapted, the difference between admitting to torture, providing there was proper justification put down on paper, and signed off by someone accepting responsibility, is much more honest, and likely to lead to less abuse, than the denial and blackouts of “extraordinary rendition”.

  7. Posted September 24, 2010 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    SL @55 Electing executive officers is not the representative principle in the sense I meant. Clearly, that happened a lot in the Classical world. It is electing legislators on the representative principle that I was getting at.
    The other cases you mention do, however, seem to be manifestations of it. Though it did not reach the Senate or the Greek citizen assemblies.
    Historically, that had all died well before Alfonso of Leon and Castile and (later) Simon de Montfort had their bright idea of getting the merchants to elected delegates (and, in Simon de Montfort’s case, knights of the shires). Diocletian killed off the last elements of it.

  8. Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    [email protected] When i wrote ‘slavery’, I meant slavery not serfdom. They are both forms of bonded labour, but quite different institutions. (I have posted a bit on the economics of bondage.) It would be a bit odd to praise the medieval period for abolishing an institution it spread so far.

    On chivalry, warrior codes turn up in lots of societies, because there is a perennial problem — how do you distinguish a warrior from a murderer? (See Shannon French’s book on the subject.) Bushido is an example. Indeed, it is a revealing example because the Gospel of Love and the Doctrine of Compassion have obvious tensions with the life of the warrior which each seek to resolve. (Islam does not create warrior codes in the same sense, because there is no such tension: Muhammad was a military leader.)

    A notable thing about chivalry is it was particularly concerned to restrain actions towards non-combatants. Again, not an unheard of feature in warrior codes, but a strong feature in chivalry. It is a major source of the modern Western notion of “war crime”. Not a Roman notion, for example. Indeed, the notion that war should be systematically subject to legal restrictions is effectively a European invention.

    If you think common law has a precedent problem, try Sharia. Law should have something of a “precedent problem” since reducing uncertainty is one of law’s prime functions. Common law seems to be able to distill experience well. I am sceptical of enthusiasm for current enthusiasms.

    Then there is my favourite example of the superiority of common law. Louisiana is the only non-common law jurisdiction in the US. And it shows 🙂

  9. john
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Sorry, can i just clarify, is skepticlawyer Helen Demidenko?

    [ADMIN: Yes]

  10. Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    The idea that the common law is difficult to change is a bit of a misnomer. As the nice chap running our Scots law conversion course pointed out just yesterday, societies with civil codes based on Roman law finish up with the situation where the code becomes a political document. This means huge numbers of stakeholders need to be consulted (not to mention the attendant political debate) before anyone can change anything.

    By contrast, at common law a statutory enactment or overruling of precedent will do the job nicely, and much more quickly.

    Of course, in Roman law jurisdictions that aren’t code based (like Scotland) the speed and flexibility of the common law is combined with the more pro-market characteristics of Roman law… there’s a reason why it was the Scottish Enlightenment.

    And I must say having Roman jurists quoted next to Adam Smith in course materials is very cool.

    Here’s a quiz question:

    What important ECON101 principle is foreshadowed by this ruling from the Roman jurist Pomponius?:

    For this by nature is equitable, that no-one be made richer through the loss of another.

  11. Patrick
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    My guess too.

  12. Posted September 24, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Well done you two… you’ll have to be content with a virtual Gold Star, alas, due to the limits of these here internets 🙂

  13. Posted September 25, 2010 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I was going to guess Pareto efficiency, but my friendly neighbourhood wizard had got me drunk (fish n chips with champagne, cider and red wine) and so I forebore on the grounds I was not confident in the current state of my cognitive processes 🙂

    As it happens, his partner, who partook of the fish n chips and champagne, but then wisely retired to her lounge, is both a lawyer and a writer of fiction. Very successful, though with some experiences of the vagaries of the publishing industry.

    Discussions such as those in this thread are very useful in correcting one’s unclarities and over-statements 🙂

  14. Posted September 25, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    thinking about the pareto efficiency (not equity) of manumission

  15. Posted September 26, 2010 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    DB @68 The British Empire aimed at Pareto efficiency (well, respecting the rights of property, which tends to be Pareto efficient) by buying out the slave owners. The US effectively just confiscated the slaves in the defeated South, wiping out about a third of the South’s capital. Which, combined with taxing the South to pay for Northern war pensions and South’s investment in repression of African-Americans kept the South a poor region (by US standards) until the Civil Rights Acts of 1960s.

    Simply buying out the slave owners would have been a whole lot cheaper than the Civil War. But taxing Northern workers to buy off the richest class in the US was not a political goer.

    The British Empire did not achieve full Pareto efficiency in its slave buy-outs because dynamic effects meant that the plantation owners lost ground. Something the US slave owners were aware of, and made any “buy out” option even more problematic.

  16. Posted September 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    When I was writing BL&G, I made a decision to have my Romans follow the British model, partly because they want to avoid civil war and partly because while there were some moral criticisms of slavery by Roman Stoics and jurists, most objections to it were severely pragmatic. Caesar thought that it depressed the wages of Italy’s free citizen poor, for example.

  17. Posted September 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Caesar was probably right. Slavery in the American South tended to increase the income of small property holders, however, by increasing the value of their managerial skills. So, non-slave owners also economically benefited from slavery while the value of their votes would have been depressed by freeing the slaves. (A particularly big issue in South Carolina, for example, which had a black majority.) The claim that you sometimes see that “the Civil War was not about slavery because most Southerners did not own slaves” is spurious.

    If the grounds are pragmatic, however, you lose the resistance against being taxed to pay “blood money”.

    Turchin argues, very plausibly, that mass slavery does long-term damage to a region’s social capital.

  18. jck
    Posted September 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    look forward to reading it and testing the assumptions.

  19. Posted September 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    jck: there’s a taster available here:



  20. Posted September 27, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]

    i’d also argue the the beginnings of abolition of slavery (serfdom being in the same class to my mind) stemmed less from medieval inventiveness than the effectiveness of pathogens in diminishing the supply of labor. (The increases in average wealth as population dropped is a lesson we could contemplate for the modern era).

    A teaching moment!

    In a land/population ratio society, bondage is profitable when land is plentiful and labour is short, since the cost of control plus the loss of productivity is still less than the cost of free wages. As the population increases, wages fall and bondage loses its profitability.

    So, we would expect that bondage increases when land supply increases and/or population falls. Which is what we see in the late Roman empire, in the early Medieval period, in the Americas after the Eurasian disease pool hits, causing demographic collapse, in Eastern Europe with the defeat of the Turks and Tatars. We would expect bondage to lose attractiveness as population increases, which is what we observe in late C13th, early C14th Europe.

    The case where it doesn’t work is after the Black Death. Why Western Europe did not engage in re-enserfment is a fascinating question. The answer seems to be that the English, French etc Crowns were using tax-paid soldiers increasingly, so they wanted a free peasantry they could tax-and-hire, so did not support the wails of a knightly class whose feudal services were no longer required. Plus, the use of tenancy, etc provided alternative strategies for the landlords who were not a united front (the incidence of the plague was uneven and the large magnates had alternative strategies).

    Once the key economic ratio shifts to capital/population things changed. Capital is not fixed, so, as long as the stock of capital increases faster than population, average incomes rise. (In particular, labour incomes rise because labour becomes increasingly scarce compared to captital.)

    Increasingly, as the role of capital in production increases, manual dexterity and cognitive capacity overtake physical labour in importance. Which, of course, increases the relative value of female labour. Hence capitalism’s association with female emancipation. You can even see short-run cycles: need women in the workforce in WWII because men are off at the front. They come back from the front, so women are expected to go back in to the kitchen and raise kids (aka the 1950s).

    Same thing happened in WWI, expect the death toll was bigger in France, UK, Australia, etc, so the 1920s was actually better for women in the workforce than the 1950s.

    Social history is very much a study in relative scarcities.

  21. Posted September 28, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    [email protected] Thanks for some of that “teaching moment” perspective, which is currently digesting, although I’ll almost certainly come to differ

    It seems that my comments on pathogens and yours aren’t in major disagreement. Lethal pandemics can be creative destruction… even into the modern(ish) era such as when the Broad St Pump led to massive infrastructure works that dramatically improved living standards.

    In a falling population, where even small holdings or inheritances aren’t divided, the remaining kids are better off (and you get something like discretionary income, and production of goods/services to soak that up), increasing per capita wealth of the “middle” classes with something to inherit, this creating a real choice for serfs – skeddadling to paid employment elsewhere – a choice previously unavailable. Again, a lesson for moderns when we can have electronic slaves.

    Unlike other scarce goods, people can decide to revolt, in ways wheat can’t, so those at the top, if oppressive, may have to cut losses, ease up and adapt, or lose all.

    If I’ll admit the utility of trickle-down economics in a particular, this is it. (Wow, another first!)

  22. Posted September 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just add to Lorenzo’s point that systems of property title in England (the only country I can opine on with knowledge) were much more secure just after the black death than they were at the time of the Norman Conquest. There really was a period in Anglo-French legal history where no-one owned anything except the monarch and everyone took ‘of the Crown’.

    One of the best discussions of how this phenomenon changed over time is in Mabo No 2. Brennan CJ was a property law aficionado and it shows. The history is fascinating.

    It is also why, as soon as they are given the chance, even common law jurisdictions shift to Roman law systems of title registration and transfer. The ‘mortgage’ (‘dead pledge’) is a most inefficient contrivance designed to get around a society that condemned lending money at interest. The Romans had no such objection and so evolved the much more efficient ‘hypoteca’ or ‘charge’. Australia’s system of ‘Torrens title’ is based on the Roman hypoteca. Scotland also uses the hypoteca, while England is still in the process of changing over from ‘old system’ title.

  23. Posted October 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Instead of spending time trying to write an historical fiction would mit not be better if as a lawyer you could write historical facts? For example that “australian citizenship” is not a nationalisty at all. Or is it too difficult for you to write about historical facts, as fiction is easier to use in court rooms?

    You can write about historical facts but fewer people are going to read it as it isn’t as engaging to the public. The fact is human beings are programmed to love stories. Its our most important form of entertainment and stories have long been the most valuable commodity people have traded.

    One of the problems with looking at the past is that the ancient people never believed in writing historically accurate historians. It didn’t suit them and wasn’t within their values or understanding. People wrote back in that time with political motivations. They wrote things inspired by events serving the purposes of them paying to write.

    No, it’s true speculative fiction — probably the biggest exercise in imagination I had to do was turning the Stoics into abolitionists. In the novel, Pilate’s wife is from a prominent abolitionist family, while he is rather High Tory. Ben Yusuf’s lawyer (who is doing the case pro bono) has views that we’d associate with Chartism, but with less socialism (Roman ideas about equality of any sort were very weak). Pilate is scandalized because his friend’s views mean extending the franchise to people who don’t (shock, horror) own any real property.

    You can imagine Marxist atheism as an egalitarian theology preaching the end of slavery. It seems to me that Marxism was never going to last, or communism. I think people were very enthusiastic about communism for a while but they weren’t very persistent. I think the problem with communism is that it makes assertions about the material world. If your belief system makes an assumption about other worlds, universes, dimensions which you can never see, then people can never verify or refute it.

    There are old stories like yours like Masada, a fortress where Jewish rebels were holding out in, and when the Romans captured the fortress the Jews all killed themselves rather than being saved. This is more of a political story than a religious one however.

    The thing about pagans facing a polotheistic terrorist would be alternate history, such as the genre in which Turtledove writes. Alternate history is a good way to explore ideas and understand why events happened the way they did. It puts it into a form that the average person can both understand it and enjoy it. It can be much more interesting than reading philosophy.

    The Romans had pretty successfully become quite secular and separated religion from Government largely due to their affluence, Of course as the Pontius Pilate story reveals, they were quite pragmatic. It was okay with them if the Jews had their religion as long as they didn’t play up. They killed Jesus because to placate the religious hierarchy in order to maintain order. It had nothing to do with their religion. Jesus made it quite clear he wasn’t an enemy of the romans.

    I think Romans were superstitious but their were also a lot of Romans willing to be quite materialistic and practical as a civilisation.

    So its a sort of what if Christianity had never happened and the Roman culture had continued and thrived into an age of industrial technology.

    But have you considered that the industrial revolution was largely predicated upon a desire to save on the cost of labour where as the Roman empire was predicated on an almost endless supply of slaves?
    How are you going to reconcile that?

    Slavery continued long into the industrial era and wasn’t made illegal until the 60s. However the industrisalised countries like the North and Great Britain tended to get rid of slavery so it didn’t really make much difference to their economies. The drive to abolish slavery was a religious one, moralistic. There was distaste for slavery by non-religious people, but without the push by religious people to get rid of it I don’t know whether it would have happen. You could say this was the first act of modern activism; a small group of people changing the course of history.

  24. Tina Ryan
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Anyone know where skepticlawer (Helen) is these days?

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  4. By Skepticlawyer » Schooldaze on November 16, 2010 at 5:16 am

    […] those readers new to my writing, here's the necessary background; if you click on the 'Bring Laws and Gods' category at right, you can read other outtakes […]

  5. By Skepticlawyer » Patria, Patria on November 25, 2010 at 10:05 am

    […] again, for those readers new to my writing, here's the necessary background; if you click on the 'Bring Laws and Gods' category, you can read other outtakes (edits for […]

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