On Hitting the Reset Button

I know I've been writing too long lately (blame my new laptop!), so I'd like to put it all more simply now:

What do you think would make for a better government, if you were allowed to make three major changes?:
A. What we have now, but with three major changes (Choose your own 1, 2, and 3).

B. What we had in 1790, but with three major changes (1. End slavery 2. extend the vote to all citizens over age eighteen 3. Pass a civil rights act)
I anticipate I'll be alone in choosing B, and I can probably anticipate the arguments: "Things are too complicated today for a Bill-of-Rights+3 kind of government," and "That Constitution was written in the context of an agrarian society," and so on. But I've read the Constitution, and the Federalist (and anti-Federalist) papers, and it has always seemed to me that those guys were writing not for an immediate historical context, but on the basis of principles of Justice. I would be exuberant if we could hit the reset button on this government, with a few minor changes.


那ㄟ安呢 said...


Insignificant Wrangler said...

I don't think your three previsions would adequately address fair labor laws.

pure_sophist_monster said...

You write, "and it has always seemed to me that those guys were writing not for an immediate historical context, but on the basis of principles of Justice." What exactly is the difference between these two things. What is "Justice" without reference to an "immediate historical context"? How would one define and enforce it?

I am not even going to address all the ways in which "those guys" were very much addressing just such a context, but don't the Federalist Papers themselves prove as much: that the Constitution was being shaped by particular political actors in tension with one another.

Casey said...

I don't believe "fair labor laws" bring about fairness.

I distinguish (quickly) between immediate historical context and eternal principles of Justice by appealing to a deep(er) understanding of psychology, which I think of as a "form"--somewhat variable, yes, but about like the human body, which may be pinched into small shoes or made extra-muscular, etc., but it can't fly.

So if you think about a politics that transcends the immediate context, you have to ask "what is the nature of humankind?" You know, like Hobbes and Locke did. And there answers provided them with different kinds of theoretical foundations for political philosophy.

A big part of my belief is that part of what makes humans "human" is their insistence on change. For this reason, I see institutions as generally more problematic than helpful, regardless of what time period or political context we're talking about.

Need more? (my hands are cold and I'm grumpy)

Casey said...