Thursday, February 27, 2014

1: Form a More Perfect Union 6/12/16

            Readers are invited to join discussion of any of the eight nine civic goals stated in the preamble to the constitution for the USA: why the goal was included in 1787, whether or not the reasons are valid for this generation, and ideas for change. Collaboration requires basic understanding of the preamble. My views for discussion follow.
The civic contract stated in the preamble
            The preamble claims that a people we dub "a civic people (ACP)," a voluntary part of We the People of the United States, consists of inhabitants who maintain self-governance and supervise civic governance by by  collaborate for real-no-harm (RNH) private liberty with civic morality (PLwCM) in each their state and the union of states.  “Civic” pertains to necessary connections between inhabitants rather than preferences such as social groups; thus, civic does not address religious beliefs, ethnic distinctions, cultures, avocations, professional associations and other good and necessary associations as long as they observe civic morality. Self-control is a private affair as long as behavior does not diminish another citizen’s autonomy. Even in public, one citizen’s behavior is not subject to the other citizen’s opinion, as long as freedom is mutual and neither person breaks civic morality. When lawlessness becomes evident, a person may execute a citizen’s arrest, if he/she is willing and able to maintain the arrest; otherwise a report to the police is required if there will be hope for justice. A people assign to local, state, and federal governments respective monopolies on force. People who do not collaborate for civic justice make up the rest of We the People of the United States. A civic people seek safety and security in its broadest terms.
Inhabitants need laws to preserve justice when individual activities may conflict, such as when two drivers approach a traffic intersection with the potential to collide. To preserve privacy and collaborative autonomy, just citizens agree on the scope and methods of creating the laws and institutions that provide civic morality. The preamble lists the goals of civic governance and the articles and amendments that follow specify how the goals are to be met. But just civic governance is only possible if most citizens accept--commit to and trust--the nine civic goals of the preamble. That acceptance distinguishes ACP, whose members use the preamble, from “the people,” cited so many times (eight) in the body of the constitution for the USA. With the preamble accepted as the civic mediator, most inhabitants would collaborate as well as drivers do at traffic signals, expecting improvement after 227 years living under force and coercion.
ACP persons supervise their states as well as the union of states. ACP assigns specific civic responsibilities to the union of states and other responsibilities to their state, and personally manage responsibilities they have not delegated. So far, most citizens have subjected themselves to the assumption that their good behavior can be achieved only by force and coercion of by a god; those assumptions are expressed in the Federalist Papers and institutionalized in the articles and amendments to the US Constitution. It is a form of voluntary slavery; the people are slaves to force. As a consequence, if a group of citizens feels oppressed, their approach toward relief is demonstration, perhaps violence, and if possible, lawsuits. Lawsuits are so common almost no one thinks to propose mutual accommodation or collaboration or the achievable PLwCM.
An objective of this work is to establish a new approach that reverses the assumption about the character of citizens--assumes that most citizens just want to be free to live in peace. With collaborative autonomy as the expected behavior, all just citizens will be accommodated to pursue the liberty they perceive, not the visions of others. Offenders, the few who miss the opportunity for no-harm personal freedom, can be educated to established justice instead of widespread dysfunction--may understand the importance of justice and stand a better chance of reform than exists in today’s governance. Today's governance promotes national liberty to avoid citizens focusing on collaborative personal liberty and domestic good will--PL&DG PLwCM.
            The term “union of states,” comes from the 1774 Continental Congress, wherein twelve of the thirteen Eastern seaboard colonies met and declared that the thirteen colonies would be states, independent and free from the English king’s rule. “Union of states” held until the Articles of Confederation claimed the title "United States of America," wherein each State retained autonomy excepting designated duties assigned to the Congress, such as deciding war and peace with foreign governments.  Ratification of the constitution for the USA, whereby the free and independent states became the United States of America, marked the beginning of the nation. When slave states seceded, the union of states remained “the Union,” the defenders of a civic people as defined by the preamble. The possibility that this view has never been expressed before does not diminish its power. A civic people, defined by the preamble deliberately marches toward justice based on physics-based ethics rather than intellectual constructs such as the Bible or English common law or any other scholarly law. The facts of reality are discovered through physics and its progeny, such as cosmic chemistry and biology on Earth. Also, “union of states” remains a valid term that reminds us that its governance is neither national nor a confederation of states nor a majority but a just citizens’ republic.
            There is a scholarly review of the preamble and its goals by David Shestokas. See . I do not expect readers to agree with everything Shestokas writes about the preamble.
A more perfect Union
            Turning now to the first stated goal, which is, “form a more perfect Union,” I initially suggested for discussion a one word reminder:  unity. The 1787 object was the union of states, which, under the Articles of Confederation (1777), had proven weak after independence was won in 1781 and asserted by the King of England in 1783, when he stated that the thirteen states were free and independent rather than admitting to a treaty with the Continental Congress. Problems included: some states imposed tariffs on others; the Congress was unable to pay its war debts; and foreign countries did not know who to respect: individual states or Congress. During the Revolutionary War, 40% were patriots, 40% loyalists, and 20% pacifists, and divisions remained among the people who did not return to England or move to Canada. David Shestokas points out that "more perfect" reflects the fact that the Articles of Confederation were insufficient.
            The most significant past event against unity was the Civil War, created by the attempt by slave states to secede from the union. The war restored the union of states, then thirty-five and it has since grown to fifty states. But the struggle for ACP remains, because political regimes continue to operate under the principle that just citizens can be obtained only by force. It is not happening.
            How could a more perfect unity of states be achieved? The possibilities include:  1) compare the states and coerce all states to conform to the best, 2) survey the states and consolidate the best ideas to create national governance, and 3) dissolve the states so that there is only a national government. One is constrained to ask, “Is unity of states a valid goal for the present and future generations?” Perhaps the existing unity of states is sufficient. Perhaps the states is an obsolete object. (I don't think so.)
            Regardless, the first goal, unity, might focus on the citizens.  If we accept ACP as defined by the preamble, forming a more perfect unity seems an appropriate goal for this generation. But the focus of unity would be collaborative use of the preamble, not unity of private purpose. Just citizens accommodate each others opinions that do not interfere with other people's liberty. For example, citizens who govern themselves under their god do not impose that governance on others, because the god is unique for each person, whether the persons are members of one religion or not. Further, people who are motivated by their preferred afterdeath, for example, afterlife in heaven, cannot impose their vision on people who perceive that they cannot affect their afterdeath and therefore only want self-control for moral excellence during their lifetime. To the extent that they do not interfere with another citizen’s quest for psychological maturity, citizens are free to discover and practice their personal preferences.
            I consider perhaps substituting “integrity” for “unity.” Unity of thought among citizens does not seem desirable, because if everyone shares the wrong idea, everyone is bound for doom. For example, freedom from want is not feasible for one person much less everyone. In one usage, “integrity” is a synonym for “unity,” as in wholeness or perfection within a group. For that usage, “unity” seems adequate—no need for “integrity.” However, another usage of “integrity” relates to adherence to ethical principles. Integrity involves four endeavors:  do the work to discover and understand (verb) physics and how to benefit, share the resulting understanding (noun), act accordingly, and be alert for new input that requires revised understanding. For example, just citizens not being attacked by another country would not attack the other country to effect change in that country’s governance. For guidance on fulfilling the preamble, “integrity” might be useful now and in the future.
            Readers who would help establish ACP should find exciting opportunity to enrich appreciation for and perhaps modernize this particular goal. Until a people's discussion takes over or I change, my word choice for the first goal is "integrity."

Copyright©2014 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised June 12, 2016.