Thursday, February 27, 2014

1: Form a More Perfect Union



            Readers are invited to join discussion of any of the civic goals stated or implied 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," a voluntary part of We the People of the United States, consists of inhabitants who collaborate for actual no-harm private liberty with civic morality in each their state and the USA.  “Civic” pertains to necessary connections and transactions 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 the group observes 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 civic goals of the preamble. That acceptance distinguishes a civic people 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 1789, the years of living under force and coercion.
Civic persons supervise their states as well as the union of states. A civic people assigned specific civic responsibilities to the USA and other responsibilities to their state, and personally discipline 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 by a god; those assumptions are expressed in the Federalist Papers and institutionalized in the 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 personal liberty with civic morality.
An objective of this work is to establish a new approach that reverses the traditional assumption that citizens tend toward bad behavior--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 private liberty with civic morality.
            The term “union of states,” comes from the 1774 Continental Congress. 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 or Parliament'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, on June 21, 1788, whereby nine free and independent states became the United States of America, marked the beginning of the nation. The next day, the free and independent states lessened to four. 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, deliberately defined by the preamble, marches toward justice based on physics-based ethics rather than intellectual constructs such as the Holy 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 www.shestokas.com/constitution-educational-series/understanding-the-us-constitutions-preamble-2/ . I do not expect readers to agree with everything Shestokas writes about the preamble.
             A blog, http://conlaw.org/, encourages citizens to realized that "posterity" more simply is children. The idea is for adults to save something for the children. I support that initiative but may not agree with everything.

 
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. He stated that the thirteen states were free and independent, naming each one, rather than admitting to a treaty with the Continental Congress. The states ratified the treaty in 1784. States' 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: free and independent 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 people of this country were never united.
            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 a civic people remains, because political regimes continue to operate under the principle that just citizens can be obtained only by force. It is not happening. The preamble offers civic discipline, but the agreement is neglected, even repressed.
            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.) The idea of states liberty with civic morality is as attractive as human, personal liberty with civic morality.

Focus on individuals

            Regardless, the first goal, unity, might focus on the citizens.  If we accept a civic people 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 their 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-discipline for moral excellence during their lifetime. To the extent that they do not interfere with another citizen’s quest for psychological maturity, in other words civic integrity, 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. And freedom from want would lessen if not eliminate motivation and inspiration. 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 civic morality. Integrity involves six endeavors:  do the work to discover the-objective truth; learn how to benefit; behave accordingly; share the understanding; listen to public reaction and perhaps collaborate for change; 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 a civic people should find exciting opportunity to enrich appreciation for and perhaps modernize this particular goal. Until a people's collaboration 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 27, 2018.