glyph 386: conjecture: a design for government intended to optimize freedom ... lessons of the Anglosphere applied to future governance ... rights . law . legislation . judicial review . taxation . monetary system . defense ... James Burke . John Locke ..... autonomous zones . freezones


Anglosphere Island: The Un-Utopia

James C. Bennett speculates on the achievable


It is at least amusing, and perhaps useful as a thought experiment, to construct a sort of imaginary Anglotopia -- which we could define as a society that seeks to maximize those things that make the Anglosphere desirable, and minimize those things in current Anglosphere societies that serve to undermine its own virtues.


In regard to the actual substance of legislation, the short answer of course is that it is up to the people: the Anglosphere tradition is that of representative government. But in general my preferences can be summed up as "Lockean in regard to all matters in which people tend to act as Lockeans, i.e., as rational calculators; Burkean in all things where people act as Burkeans, i.e., guided by their sentiments, habits, and passions. This means that I favor a strong, predictable framework of law and contract enforcement, within which economic functions are largely left up to private actors; and in those areas where substantial numbers of people are driven by compulsions (particularly those of sex, alcohol, drugs, and gambling), the law should attempt to mitigate and reduce the amount of harm people's compulsions may do to them. The fundamental tradition of the Anglosphere is that the government is not a philosopher-prince determining the optimal way of life for the people and imposing it upon them, but rather an instrument to impose the relatively small number of rules that must be mandated generally rather than resolved by the mores and manners of the people.


As to the great hot-button social issues, the constitution would create few fixed rules. It would try to steer their resolution toward legislation rather than adjudication, to make it clear that the Supreme Court does not have the power to impose a major change on the culture from above


The people of the Anglosphere have historically been very adept at setting up a functional representative constitutional government on very short notice, in all sorts of corners of the world, and sometimes under very difficult circumstances, such as being in the middle of a war of independence. They have done this by drawing from what is by now a very flexible and comprehensive toolkit of solutions.

The original blog entry, with comments, may be found at:
April 28, 2007

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