Re: UK Constitution (Re: US Constitution e-text?)

Chris R. Tame (
Sun, 27 Jul 1997 11:21:27 +0100

In message <Pine.3.89.9707251745.C124-0100000@marui>, Mark Grant
<> writes
>On Tue, 22 Jul 1997, Chris R. Tame wrote:
>> It is strange that libertarians - who should have a grasp of the nature
>> of spontaneous orders and the nature of civil society - should somehow
>> see an unwritten constitution - like Britain's as somehow less real or
>> effective than a written one.
>How long do you think the RKBA would have lasted in America without the
>Bill of Rights? How would the CDA have been defeated without the First
>Amendment? The advantage of a written constitution is that you have a
>specific set of restrictions on government that you can point to when they
>get out of line. It may not prevent abuse, but it's a good start.
>> What is written in a constitution (eg the
>> quite liberal constitution of the old USSR, or the current US
>> constitution for that matter) is far less important in
>> creating/preserving liberty than the constituion of society itself.
>I agree, but a written constitution provides a lot more protection against
>the mob when they're out for blood. Compare the latest Supreme Court
>judgements to the banning of all handguns and proposed ban on all rifles
>over .22 in Britain.
> Mark
>|Mark Grant M.A., U.L.C. EMAIL: |
This really ignores the essentials of the argument I was making.

"[A] lot more protection ... ", in comparison to the hegemonic ideas
embodied in society and the judiciary, a la Britain in the 18th and 19th
centuries? You are not comparing like with like. And, of course, it is
quite clear that your constitution is NOT secure. Look at the twisted
interpretations used to justify the abandonement of the clear intent of
its Founders. Look at the gradual replacement of its ethos by by new
ideologies, like health fascism (eg guns as an epidemic, victim
disamament as a public health measure etc). Pointing to the values of
liberty, to common law, to the decisions of a libertarian-oriented
judiciary, to the arguments of constitutional lawyers etc etc is
arguably just as good a start as pointng to a written constitution. In
order to support your argument (a common one I've heard before from
Americans) you would need to show some awareness of the constitutional
and political history of other countries - something, alas, generally
absent amongst Americans (as evidenced from the initial comments that
started this thread).

British liberties were just as extensive and secure as American
(arguably more so in many areas) when libertarian ideas had hegemony in
theory and in social practice. The US constition has been breached
repeatedly from early times, although most signifcantly more recently.
Once the predomininant beliefs and practices that produced a specific
constitution are undermined or reversed then a constitution is nothing
more than a piece of paper and worthless against either the mob - or the
elite power seeker. And, of course, a written constitution that isn't
the product of the real forces of society is worthless from the start.
Your constitutional safeguards have now been breached in countless areas
and the likelihood of their virtually total disappearance is now high
(in spite of the renaissance of libertarian ideas, which is probably too
little too late in terms of the power of its intellectual and
political/class enemies). Indeed, ironically, the coming US statism
which is the precise reverse of the intent of the US constitution will
undoubedly be wrapped up in the forms and rhetoric of the old
libertarian-oriented constitution, in order to preserve legitimacy and
continuity - a sick joke of history.

Do read my article for a more complete exposition of this argument.

Chris R. Tame, Director                 
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