Friday, August 5, 2011
Kings and Constitutions
A formal, written constitution, I believe, is not essential to the efficient operation of a good monarchy. They do tend to be rather necessary for republics, on the other hand, for reasons which will be evident in a moment. Having said that, I certainly do not think constitutions are necessarily detrimental to a monarchy. Every monarchy in Europe today has a constitution and I support them and hope that they all continue. My “problem”, for lack of a better word, with constitutions for monarchies is the idea or the mentality behind them which I find utterly naïve and unrealistic. This stems from much the same reason why I do not think there is one perfect political ideology in the world. Constitutions seem perfectly rational and reasonable and logical but human beings are none of these things, neither those who write the constitutions nor those over whom they are supposed to apply. It is not that I dislike all constitutions, it is only that I disagree (strongly) with the idea that constitutions can solve every problem or the idea that every country that is to be acceptable has to have one, written down and on display for all to see.
This is an opinion I hold because I firmly believe that one can never totally codify justice. We are told that a constitution is necessary to act as a check against the misrule of a bad monarch. But what about the reverse? As US President Ford famously said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have”. I would apply this same reasoning to constitutions for monarchies. Any constitution strong enough to prevent a monarch from doing wrong is also strong enough to prevent a monarch from doing what is right. Human beings are fallible creatures, both the rulers and the ruled, those who are governed by constitutions and those who write those constitutions just the same. Nothing made by the hand of man nor any institution operated by mortal men is going to be infallible or immune from corruption and that applies to any constitution and any form of government that could possibly be imagined.
Again, I will repeat, that there have been constitutional monarchies that functioned extremely well and I am not absolutely opposed to them in any and all cases. However, I can easily become positively infuriated by the mentality of those who think some damn piece of paper will solve all of their problems. The world does not work that way. You can have law based on written documents but you cannot always have justice. Where I live there was once a commonly held sentiment that “the law” should never be allowed to get in the way of justice. Today we have rather gotten away from that I think, but I still agree with the sentiment. Law and order should always be upheld and maintained of course, but, again, true justice can be found in the human heart but it can never be found in a book or a piece of paper.