Re: Is rational patriotism anti-extropian? I don't think so...

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 08:31:17 MDT

On Mon, Apr 17, 2000 at 05:42:13PM -0400, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> >
> > Modern democracies are just a degenerate form of the monarchial system? For
> > reasons stated above I would have to disagree. I can see some connection
> > but not the wholesale link you do. I appreciate having the vast power one
> > man used to have as king being spread around with various branches of
> > government that are limited by checks and balances. And we can try to
> > influence or change things without being hung or imprisoned if the king
> > really dislikes the idea.
> Charlie still lives under a system where the head of state IS in fact a monarch,
> and his system has no written constitution that recognises that all rights
> originate in the individual, who delegates them to the government.

Not quite correct.

There _is_ a constitution in the UK; it's just that instead of being
written in one single piece of paper, it's written in a number of
different places. For example, as of last year there's a Bill of Rights
that overrides all other legislation. (Yeah, I know it's disgraceful that
it took them that long to implement one, but at least it's there now!)

A secondary consideration is that the UK constitution is less well defined,
and therefore easier to change, than the US one. Passing the bill of rights
was a routine legislative act; ditto abolishing the voting powers of the
hereditary peers in the House of Lords. This is, IMO, a Bad Thing, and a
good reason for supporting Charter 88 (the campaign for a written
constitution that overrides ordinary legislation and has a separate
amendment process).

However, it'd be a mistake to think that the UK is, *in practice*, a
Monarchy. Theoretically, Lizzie Saxe-Coburg-Gotha has the power to tell
Tony Blair to go fuck himself. In practice, the first time she did it
would be the last -- and Tony would still be in Number 10 Downing Street
when the dust settled. The royal family is so far divorced from the
legal entity that is The Crown that they don't actually control it any
more -- arguably, they haven't since 1832.

> > I do think I understand your point as being that ultimately, the federal
> > gov'ts of even democracies still have incredible power over the citizenry,
> > even if it is generally more fairly used. And we are expected as citizens
> > to be generally loyal subjects to not a king anymore, but our flag and p.m.
> > or president.
> In which I agree with Charlie is totally wrong. The Constitution is the only
> thing that deserves or gets my loyalty.
That wasn't really my point, anyway. My point was that the power structures
that replaced the authoritarian monarchs may have notionally derived their
authority from the people rather than "because God _said_ I was better than
you peasants", but *it's still a power structure*, with many of the same
attributes and relationships to the outside world.

-- Charlie

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