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A Frenchie travelling the world...

14 November 2006

Law and Order

Dear readers,

As promised last month, I would like to begin my discussion (with myself...) about politics. Again, please remember this is a personal description of an ideal system, voluntarily disconnected from any geographical or national reference.

Most political systems, especially written constitutions, begin with a reminder (one which has usually the highest legal binding effect) of the main rights and sometimes duties of citizens. It is called here "Bill of Rights", there "Human Rights Declaration", but it is a constant in constitutionnal law.

First, I'd like to criticize the idea a bit. It is great to have fundamentals, but how can we be sure they are not culturally tainted? Actually all of them are tainted. Even the UN Human Right declaration is clearly tainted with the Western civilization ideological bias. Not that I find this wrong, but it is an inconvenient when you try to find a common ground with someone with, say, a less individualistic background. Which means already that focusing on citizens only might be a mistake. It could be just as effective to have at least organisations mentionned (moral persons and not only physical persons, to use a legal term).

This said, I think we have to go back to basics. What is the goal of a government, of a political power? It is to protect its citizens and their families. To protect against what? Well, against other states, if need be, against other citizens, and eventually against nature's harshest inconvenients. Why did I say their families? Because, as Maslow showed, there are several steps in human developments. The first one is physiological (food, shelter, sex, health). The second is safety, but the third is love and belonging, which includes family. I believe any type of government shouldbe dedicated to allow all citizens to achieve not only the three first levels the Maslow pyramid, but also the two last ones which are (self-) esteem and self-actualisation. Most governments tend to provide for the first three levels only and either forget about the two last ones, or force them upon their citizens. Another common mistake by political powers is to forget that moral persons have different rights from physical persons, as well as different needs and to confuse them.

This leads me to say there should be a Declaration of Rights and Duties for the citizens, as well as an annexe or an appart declaration (subject to the first) for moral persons. Why Rights and Duties? It is because if citizens or moral persons only have rights, they will have the tendency to forget that the state is also there to protect other citizens against abuse of their rights. And worse, courts will have the tendancy to actually enforce their rights over the rights of other citizens rather than remind them of their duties.

Well, I think it is enough thinking for tonight, I need beer! ;-)

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