A new Magna Carta for a Post-Peak Age

Given the recent musings here at Peakfuture on what the future map of the North American continent might look like, and even what flags might appear on the flagpoles of those new nations, it might be important to start asking what a new framework for living might look like – what a new Constitution (or Magna Carta) might look like down the road.

We most likely won’t be re-writing any new constitution from scratch; people who write such documents are usually students of history, know mistakes were made in the past, and know what good ideas have been put in place.   The US Constitution has its roots in the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Federalist papers, and the Articles of Confederation, as well as host of other writings and ideas.  Because it was well thought out by the Founders, it had the neat trick of being amended, so that as society changed, the government could adapt to these changes.  As a result, it has been with us for over a few hundred years, and has evolved (albiet not perfectly) to handle new conditions.

But just like an old house that keeps getting remodeled, or a car that has so many miles on it that it becomes an antique (and difficult to find parts for), at some point, people tend to “throw in the towel” and say “we need to start over.”    It may be that as valuable as the Magna Carta and US Constitution are, their bases, and the outlook on those who wrote them was limited, in that (ironically, speaking of limited knowledge!), they didn’t internalize the fact that we live on a limited, finite planet.  But what would ‘starting over’ look like?

Now, for some, this new Magna Carta has already appeared, in the Georgia Guidestones.   Built by some mysterious folks in the 1970s, the Georgia Guidestones have this written on them:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

All well and good.  According to the Wiki article, some folks have had some nasty things to say about them (tools of Satan, the usual), but these are important things to ruminate on.

Some of the ideas seem like pretty good ones, but more along the lines of spiritual guidance, rather than things you could codify in a constitution.  The Georgia Guidestones don’t say anything specifically about trial by jury, the right to self defense, or free speech.    Some of the ideas appear to be retreads of ideas that have been tried in the past.   For example, “unite humanity with a living new language,” has been tried with Esperanto, and perhaps it might one day get some traction (as it did in the science fiction Riverworld series), but to impose it in a new constitution could be problematic.

There is one particular element of these warm and fuzzy ideas that might be the basis of a new Balanced Constitution – that of Entry 8: “Balance personal rights with social duties.”  A friend once said, “The Founding Fathers were great, but along with the Bill of Rights, they needed to create a Bill of Responsibilities.”

Likewise, the Preamble of this new Balanced Constitution (along the lines of “We the People”, or along the lines of the more radical Declaration of Independence, which has “When in the course of human events…”) would have to spell out some of the great truths we have learned over the years, so that the origin of those rights and responsibilities is crystal clear.  With some ideas from Michael Ruppert’s musings in “Collapse”, a preamble might be something like this:

With access to finite resources and with infinite wants, We The People realize that our nation and its laws must reflect these basic and fundamental realities.   To ignore basic scientific and mathematical principles is to doom us to lives of poverty, in both mind and body.   The nations of the past were built by pioneers who explored new territories; our new nation must explore new frontiers of the mind, and new ways of living.   We borrowed from the old laws and customs which have served us well, and added that which will keep these customs in check.

My legal training is scant, so I’m going to rely on those who read this to come up with the legalese to make this coherent.   What would a new constitution look like, with rights and responsibilities spelled out in more detail?

Going through the list of our current Amendments, we might wind up with our original amendments as enshrined in the Balanced Constitution from Day One as ‘Enumerated Rights’ and correspondingly ‘Enumerated Responsibilities’.  Here is the right to free speech:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So, what do we do with the responsibility of free speech?

The freedom to speak and publish is inviolate, but those who use these freedoms for slander and libel against others and the realities of Nature are being irresponsible.  It is the responsibility of citizens to speak the truth, as they see it.

How about the right of self defense?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

With the Second Amendment, perhaps a simple responsibility clause would be promulgated:

The right to individually and collectively defend ones person and property is inviolate, but those who use Arms outside of these purposes weaken the nation.   It is the responsibility of citizens to use Arms in a responsible manner.

Now, these are all pencil sketches of what might have to be added to a Balanced Constitution; some other amendments might be added, that meld rights and responsibilities in one shot.  Some folks have called for the elimination of the corporations as natural persons , but perhaps a compromise might be reached, so that if they do exist, there is a well defined and direct responsibility of those who are in charge of such entities:

Corporations are allowed to exist, but normally do not have the rights associated with natural persons.    If a corporation wishes to have the rights associated with natural persons, a living, natural person who is in control of the corporation must bear its punishments.

One can play the “Let’s write rewrite the constitution” game all day of course, and of course, in the immortal words of the Beatles (from Revolution), let’s not forget this important caveat:

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head

It’s a tricky business, writing a new one.   We may never get a chance to do so, but thinking about it might allow us to make small changes to our current one, without the messy revolution that sometimes accompanies a major rewrite.

Questions for the audience:

  • What would you want to put into a new Magna Carta or Constitution?
  • What would your Preamble look like?  This is the part that sums up your new nation in a nutshell!
  • Technologies will change (for a while, we may have more ‘advanced’ tech, and then, less advanced technologies).   How will a new constitution reflect this?
  • The US Constitution is difficult to change, and according to the Supreme Court, states don’t have the right to secede either.   Would you modify a constitution so this capability exists?  How would you write this in?  It sounds almost like having a pre-nup before getting married!
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