Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A WikiConstitution

Ah, a long silence there. This time I have a good excuse, though: I was wandering about in Cambodia for a week.

So, I've been thinking more about the idea of applying a wiki spirit to the creation of law. This is unlikely to happen soon, not down at the level of criminal law or anything else directly enforceable. But that doesn't mean the electorate of the planet can't start to get some practice in, and starting right now. What I'm thinking of is an open project to enumerate a sort of meta-constitution, a document that could be used as a model for constitutions all over the planet.

Now, the probability of some form of world government coming about sometime in the next century, and sooner rather than later, is hard to ignore. Multinational corporations, NGOs, and the UN have almost completed their coalescence into a meta-government of which nation-states are reduced to the status of less-than-sovereign duchies. This need not be a bad thing, and indeed is historically inevitable one way or another: once civilization started happening, the tendency was for larger and larger regions synergetic regions (cities, states, kingdoms and empires) to assert themselves. To predict that eventually one would rise to encompass the entire world is a very straightforward extrapolation of the historical record.

Of course, the first form of global government is likely to be a very bad thing indeed. The thing that is currently emerging is fascist, exploitative, wildly unequal and undemocratic, more like the Assyrian Empire than the United States of America that it will be superseding. It will be as disastrous for America as it is for everyone else subjected to it.

But it needn't stay that way. One possibility is that the internal contradictions of the first global empire will cause it to fall; if the fall is not too bad (economic collapse, rather than a nuclear spasm) something new, and hopefully better, might rise to replace it. Another possibility is that the citizens will reformat it themselves, demanding the imposition of true global democracy to accompany global corporations, global armies, and global bureaucracies.

A global democracy - a demosphere - would need a constitution, or at least a meta-constitution, something that would provide a limiting framework for the sorts of constitutions member-states are allowed to form. Something to enumerate the rights - and the duties - of people and organizations everywhere on the planet. And who better to write that meta-constitution than the people who will live under it? Throw open the doors for a year, a decade, or better yet, forever; allow anyone who wants to add or edit any passage they wish, with the officially adopted portion being that which consists of passages receiving the highest percentage of 'yes' votes.

Now, contrast this with the closest existing thing to a global meta-constitution, the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights. It's filled with a lot of very nice language about freedoms to this and freedom of that, all rather pleasing if dull to read. There is nothing there to immediately excite distress, though buried at the bottom is an item that allows any and all of those human rights to be revoked if they conflicted in any way with the UN ... an unsurprising condition, given that the document was composed by a small group of thinkers acting at the behest of powerful men, entirely without the consultation of the people it was meant (symbolically, at least) to apply to.

Now, just creating such a thing wouldn't, in and of itself, guarantee it's enforcement. Not directly, at least, and not at first. For a very long time - years, perhaps, but more likely decades - it would be nothing but some pages on the web. But the project could grow, perhaps to the point of millions around the world actively collaborating on the project, with billions more aware of it (and free to jump in whenever and wherever they felt.) The mere act of participating would raise consciousness about our rights in responsibilities in a global state, and that would in turn lend the project a moral weight that would eventually make it impossible to ignore, a global constitutionalist movement that one way or another would need to be confronted. Eventually, it could become the central text of an ideology of freedom and rule of law that pervades the world.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: