Re: Constitution v2.0

Philip Witham (
Thu, 7 Aug 1997 12:32:50 -0700 (PDT)

Interesting thread, Elieser.

Several points and then I'll spout my thoughts on How It Should Be Done:
(sorry if this is a long post; I need to get across one complete, coherent
concept, a pet of mine :-) )

Do you really believe that positive, radical change in the constitution of
the US could happen? It would be a madhouse in any event. And you'd be
up against hoards of professional thieves (politicians, lobbyists, etc).
I prefer to think about what could be done if starting out fresh in a new
"place", physical or virtual, a blank slate.

Yes! re: a limited number of words in the constitution.
No! re: representitives. With modern communications, we will not need
these laggards.

Re: state government, in the current system, this is one of the reasons
that the US gov. is still somewhat tolerable. It traps people with
political ambitions at the lowest, least effective level, and presents
many layers of trap for them. This is the primary function of
government, IMHO. I asked a friend who had been a local San Diego
politician, and who had almost won a Ca. state office, about this, and he
agreed. He said (paraphrasing) "It takes all of the effort you can muster
and then more, to play the game, at any level of government".

First, I think one would need to establish the basis, the reason for
being, of government. In this group alone there will be much
disagreement on that. I believe that some government is needed, because
in its absence, a fraction of the population will gain control over the
rest, and become the "government", in any event.

That assumes that we can still be killed, or our stuff stolen or
destroyed, or our livlihood seriosly hampered by others. Among
Extropians, of course, that is not assumed! But: otherwise, we have no
basis for talking about constitutions, so I'll assume it will still be so.

So we must decide to agree to live by a certain constitution, when in a
particular "country". Everybody lives by the same (limited set of) rules,
in this place, so we can manage not to kill, steal from, or harm each other.

And with a particular government (or lack thereof) in control of those
laws and of enforcing them.

Note that I'm saying that the individual can choose not to comply, but
not here: if you won't live "with" us, you can't come in. That alone
would be impossible to enforce in the US, there is nowhere to deport
those that don't agree, to. Hence the blank slate is needed.

Here is the concept: On arriving at a port of entry, you are presented
with a copy of the constitution. You must read it, and prove you
understand it, and sign your agreement to live by this document while in
the country. Before entering. This agreement is the moral basis for
enforcing all laws. Ultimately, if you are convicted of seriously violating
the law, you are spaced - as it were - back the way you came. Mabye
we'll let you keep your spacesuit. ;-}

So, the constitution, which includes all laws, and other information
needed to define a government, must be short enough for many people to
understand and remember. I think in any event, the real government of a
place is a collective set of beliefs, especially the beliefs of those "in"
government. We need to get in sync, to sing the same peacefull tune.

This implys a lot of liberty, and a miniarchist government, anything
more complicated, and you could not get enough people agreeing on it and
understanding it.

Few or no fixed points to the constitution, all is up for change by
direct voting of citizens: anything else implys that a few "founders"
have the right to more control than everybody else.

If nessasary, temporary government posts could be created, by vote, but
this can be taken away on short notice.

A structure for presenting proposed constitutional changes to the
citizens, and voting on them, would be part of the core.

A limitation on the number of charactors or words is key, and may be
fixed (unchangeable by vote.)

"Taxation" may be voluntary or not, that' a tough question. Presumably
there are some things that pay off better as a joint effort on the part of
the whole country. In any case, I believe the individual must have
control over which government efforts get her "dollars". Who has the
right to force another to spend money on something she thinks is wrong?

Jointly writing such a constitution would be a fun project - off line from
this group (about as much fun as a massive blood clot, if done on this
mailing list).

- Philip Witham