constitutional liberal democracy

“a constitutional liberal democracy”

-is ostensibly a good thing we ought to become someday.

but not today, because that would amount to something like biting off more than one can chew.


that’s more like three mouthfuls, intended to be thoroughly chewed, digested, and absorbed into the bloodstream, and over time.

first comes constitutionalism and the rule of law. a set of laws that rule the land. and here we need to worry more about the laws being followed rather than its content -though that needs to be within reason too. from where we started a few years ago, we cannot get to something that is good and beautiful and pleasant-smelling all at the same time. incrementalism is the name of the game here, or else.

then once we have got that bit down -constitutionalism, rule of law- comes democracy. where people’s will is figured into what the laws should look like. this needs to build on top of the first, as the whole thing need not regress to where people and their representatives get to make the laws, but they are meaningless and are not applied or upheld. consolidation of what has been going on -rule of law- needs to happen, before democracy sets in.

then comes the good-smelling part. that the laws, which are being applied and adhered to (constitutionalism), and which represent the will of the people (democracy), need to be good, reasonable, fair, just, progressive, and non-intrusive of individual liberties and rights of marginalized groups. the laws, just because a majority of people’s representatives agree to them, need not result in a tyranny of the majority. they need to adhere to higher principles.

as it is, one fears we have bitten off more than we can chew. we have dived headlong into constitutional liberal democracy, with the attendant outcome that we have none of the above: neither rule of law, nor true democracy, nor liberalism. and in the process the masses have come to abhor all of it, because it has not come at their pace, their comfort zone.


just some thoughts i was having last night on the way home after a dinner with a certain group of folks.

and thoughts that are entirely subject to change, it must be said. just this afternoon i might revert back to the same impatient soul like all the rest of them who want all three at once, now, and think its already too late. (i.e. contra conservatism)

~ by safrang on August 5, 2009.

One Response to “constitutional liberal democracy”

  1. […] writes from Kabul: […]one fears we have bitten off more than we can chew. we have dived headlong into […]

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