Reconstitution as Praxis

Cultivating Transformational Re-engagement with our Deep Social Frameworks

higher politics
THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION is famous for codifying and amplifying the modern liberal social order.

Although it was composed, debated and ratified by an exclusive cabal of white, wealthy men, they were nonetheless fairly wise, fairly worldly & fairly freedom-oriented.  The document that they bequeathed to history drew a decisive line between the arbitrary, totalitarian ethnocentric kingdoms of the past and a new world in which individual rights, a decentralized balance of legal powers and the possibility of extending freedoms to more diverse populations became enshrined as the basic presumptions of an evolving liberal culture. 

Pretty good. 

The problem today is that we are suffering from the accumulating and accelerating side effects of modernity's successes.  Is it time to encode and officialize a transition beyond the liberal social order?

Interestingly, the American Constitution itself contains a provision for enacting a new, emergent reconstruction of itself.  A "constitutional assembly" can be called, under special conditions, in which the old document is melted down and reforged according to updated principles. 

The RECONSTITUTION PROJECT, spearheaded by Ari Allen, is an integrally-informed attempt to prototype a new constitutional framework that extends the spirit and style of the original document using a meta-perspective that incorporates both the diversity of memetic tribes and the plethora of new social and technological concerns that could not have been anticipated in the 18th century.

This is an interesting practice.

Who knows whether this document is ideal or whether America could even organize itself to initiate a new constitutional assembly?  That's not exactly the point.

The deep possibility is to template the process of engaging politically homeless citizens around the world in a vital consideration of how we might articulate principles to satisfy the divergent set of concerns, constituencies and worldviews that populate the contemporary cultural landscape.  

Many of us have vague intuitions about how the legal, economic and political order could be productively repatterned.  Yet we seldom put any actual energy into trying to "make a rule" that might instantiate those improvements.  Nor do we typically consider what unintended consequences that rule might provoke.  This would be very good practice for individuals and groups who aspire to a well-being-oriented transformation of the current civilization. 

Every day the major existing (and well-funded) political factions are training children, conditioning candidates and promulgating values that are clearly not solving our collective existential problems.  There are full-blown academies in which human minds are trained to imagine solutions prescribed to fit the existing political field.  If we are going to compete, or out-innovate, against these limiting forces then we may need to start rigorously engaging people in a new practice.

What is that practice?

It is the intentional re-examination of our underlying proto-laws and the experimental, participatory cultivation of potential solutions that satisfy many diverse sets of concerns and value-systems simultaneously in ways that are plausibly robust against corruption and misappropriation.  

The solutions in the current Reconstitution document may or may not prove sufficient -- but a thousand such experiments would almost certainly yield a crop of surprisingly adequate constitutional principles. While simultaneously producing a higher grade of civic awareness.