Passing Bull 263 – Sovereignty

‘Sovereignty’ is a loaded term.  Sovereigns are big hitters.  The sovereign is supreme.  There is no one superior.  So when England was subject in some ways to the Church of Rome, its king was to that extent not supreme in his own nation.  Indeed, in scrapping with the barons over Magna Carta, King John became a vassal to Rome.  So when King Henry VIII was prevented by the Church of Rome from attending to an important matter of state – securing succession to the throne – the question for him was – who was preeminent in England – the king or the pope?  He settled the matter in his favour by persuading the parliament to break all ties with Rome by passing a series of statutes for that purpose.  One was naturally called the Act of Supremacy.  It iced the cake with the assertion that England was always known as an ‘empire’.  Now, Facebook is nasty and Mr Zuckerberg is nauseatingly unctuous, but Facebook is not challenging the place of the Commonwealth of Australia in the governance of this nation.  Rather, it is seeking to bring pressure on the government about a law it proposes to make – much as a union might do to an employer seeking to alter terms of employment.  Claims by government ministers that there is an issue about sovereignty resemble claims by employers that a trade union by industrial action is seeking to take over management of the company.  It is just a bit of local colour.  Facebook is well capable of shooting itself in its posterior.  And if it showed that to us on the way out, I would stand and cheer.

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