Tip my hat to the new constitution: a poser for Noah
One of the intellectual exercises I want to tackle someday – when I get the time needed to study and think about it – is to undertake, just for fun, the drafting of a new US Constitution. (Yeah, I know, I should get out more.)
No, I’d like to re-evaluate the existing document in light of the world we now live in. Certainly Constitution 1.0 (C1) was a remarkable achievement, but it’s hardly being critical to acknowledge that it was very much the reflection of a 18th Century agrarian world that knew little about self-governance and more or less unfettered market economies.
That’s a far different animal than what a comparable set of thinkers might craft were they products of a 21st Century Information economy that knew quite a bit about self-governance and had two or three centuries of hard evidence about free market economies to ponder. It’s hard to imagine that the Framers could have imagined Enron, for instance. And I have questions like…what about privacy? Knowing what we know now, would we make such a right explicit? And if so, how do you balance the inevitable clash between privacy and free expression? Do we extend the same kinds of protections we now have against government abuse to cover the even more egregious abuses by private organizations (because right now, the government doesn’t begin to pose the threat to liberty that corporate marketing does)? And so on.
I might come up with a C2 document that’s similar to C1, or I might veer off in novel directions. Hard to say at this point.
But, I would like to take this opportunity to pose a query for our resident Libertarian curmudgeon, nsingman, who routinely provides us with a pretty pure Lib take on issues. I don’t always agree with his opinions, but respect that they’re always highly informed and well articulated, and I appreciate having a perspective on hand that consistently challenges how we think about our social, economic, political and cultural problems.
Here’s how it goes. Noah, you interpret things strictly in light of what C1 says (something that neither Congress, the courts, nor the president do, to be sure – especially not this president). My little poser is actually a string of questions and contingencies that goes something like this:
1: If you were writing a C2 doc for 21st Century America, would it deviate from C1, and if so, how?
2: If not, then does this suggest that C1 was a perfect, timeless document? If so, how is it possible to contrive a bill of governance that does not reflect the context of the world it exists in?
3: Also, it took literally thousands of years for political thinkers to evolve to the point where that document was even possible. How can we explain the idea that we haven’t evolved politically in the 230 or so years since?
4: If you’re not asserting C1 as a timeless document, and believe that there are ways it could be improved upon, then how do you justify strict adherence to what you see as a flawed document?
Thanks for playing. I’m really looking for some justification for thinking some of what I’m thinking. Either that, or better evidence that I shouldn’t be thinking it at all.
And of course, everybody else is invited to play, as well….
:xposted from :