[ExI] constitution amendments

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 15 14:06:18 UTC 2009

--- On Wed, 7/15/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 4:39 PM, Stathis Papaioannou 
> <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> But I don't see why it should be considered a
>> good thing per se that
>> changing laws should be very difficult. What if they're
>> bad laws? It's
>> like being subject to the edicts of an ancient
>> dictatorship; fine if
>> you agree with the edicts, not so good if you don't.
> The very idea of self-determination is that the people is
> sovereign - including in the ability of giving oneself the
> constitutional and legal system of its choice.

But what is meant by "the people is sovereign"? (Let's leave aside that whoever is sovereign can still make mistakes.) Unless you have true unanimity, all it can mean is some group of persons -- which is or becomes a ruling class -- get to determine what law and rules all others live under in a given society. This group will, naturally, tell us it speaks for or represents "the people," but this just a myth used to quell any rebellious thoughts or deeds, specifically to prevent anyone from de-legitamizing the rule of the current ruling class.
> Even there, the debate remains open on the possibile
> formalities required to achieve such goal, but the real
> point is whether there is some final authority (e.g., the
> "tradition", natural law, the rule of a foreign
> power, utilitarianist philosophy) which restricts
> legislation to the mere enactment and legalisation of some
> "eteronomic", pre-existing, and possibly universal
> or eternal  rules.

All you're saying is you fear the legislator being limited or constrained. Okay, so in your view, whoever gets to legislate has her or his way. But I think the salient the point of constitutional limits was not to arbitrarily bow before some alternate power, but to prevent or at least to control the excesses of arbitrary power. In other word, yes, the legislators, be they one person, a small group, or even a majority, are limited and somehow controlled. They don't get to do whatever they want because they don't and shouldn't have arbitrary power. I.e., they shouldn't be able to change the legal system for everyone else at a whim, but only by adhering to certain processes.

(Let's leave aside, for the moment, that massive arbitrary changes, even when voted on by a supposed majority, are likely to result in complete and utter chaos as no one will be sure from one vote to the next if she or he is in the majority or not or whether what was once thought secure will suddenly be up for the vote. More notably, the lesson of the history of statism is that most people prefer to be exploited -- and that is all being ruled by a government ever amounts to -- in a somewhat orderly fashion or being exploited in a more or less whimsical and chaotic fashion. Thus, we see periods of revolutionary political and legal change tend to be short-lived followed by periods where things settle down and the state goes about preying on the populace in a fairly orderly way. This is probably because the chaotic periods give way to coalitions because they tend to politicize everyone. People who formerly didn't give a sh** about politics and law enter the
 fray and want things to settle down. Elites that recognize this -- and recognize the danger (to the elite or to the notion of elite rule) of everyone getting into the political and legal rings -- usually win out in the long run. They'll promise, and to some extent deliver, the social peace most people seem to desire.)
> It need not be stressed which view sounds more
> transhumanist to my ears... :-)

Not to mine.



"It is still one of the deeply rooted political beliefs of our age that because legislation is passed by parliaments and because parliaments are elected by the people, the people are the source of the legislative process and that the will of the people, or at least that part of the people identifiable with the electorate, will ultimately prevail on all subjects to be determined by the government, as Dicey might have put it." -- Bruno Leoni, _Freedom and the Law_


More information about the extropy-chat mailing list