Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Blogger Ben on the Iraqi Constitution*

In his posting of September 17th, 1787 proto-blogger Ben Franklin writes:

I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

It's interesting to notice the date on his posting: September 1787 is a bit more than eleven years after the Declaration of Independence. This sort of thing takes time.

Since my last posting I have had an opportunity to read excerpts from the proposed draft of the Iraqi constitution. The good news on that front is that there is quite a bit more punch in the punchbowl than I had expected. The wording designed to soothe the sensibilities of the would-be theocrats is there and is very broadly worded -- but the protections against their excesses are also there and are very specific and clear.

* OK, you're right -- he isn't actually writing about the Iraqi constitution -- but he might as well have been. His full text is here.

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