[FoRK] Reply to Russell

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Tue Sep 21 08:05:08 PDT 2010

  On 9/21/10 4:23 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> (Just saw Russell's bit, so let me do one bit of tidying up.)
> To be clear:  I did not and would not make your argument (b).  That is a strawman you've been trying to bait me into, but I'm not 
> taking the bait.
> That the early Republic was closer to an axiomatic system does not forgive its flaws, nor condemn axiomatic systems in general.
> That axiomatic system laid the foundation for the advances you claim and which, admittedly, in practice, have been made.  The 
> mechanism of those advances is self-amendment, but it is a double-edged sword.  That which may be used to expand "rights"  may 
> also contract them, and has done so on many occasions, subject to national "necessity" and the whims of political fashion.  This 
> calls into question the validity of the very notion of "rights."
> That the general trend has been expansive is both questionable in many respects and, in any case, no excuse.
> jb

The Founders had the basis for correct rights, even if they weren't able to fully change the existing system right away.  The key 
contribution was a balanced system that tends to lead to a better rights set over time.  A kind of social / governmental ratchet 
that resists regression.  That it took time is not surprising.  Even if some of the founders envisioned our current set of rights 
they necessarily would have been unable to jump directly there.  Inertia of society, especially one not open to learning, thinking, 
or changing anymore, is something that takes generations to fix.

The founding principles, even if only imagined then in a very restricted application, plus the structure of the Federal government, 
has and will continue to improve the system.


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