Real democracy: Plea for a constituent and vigilant people

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

It’s the responsability of citizens to write their Constitution and then to protect it. To remain free, citizens must always stay attentive when it comes to powers.

(True) democracy is a solution from humans regarding the problem they have with powers.

Indeed, there is no exception, “power corrupts, and absolute power absolutely corrupts“.

Since time immemorial, no matter how virtuous they are at the beginning, all men in power change and end up abusing this power if they stay a long time in power.

All the powers, particularly the executives (governments), tend to “autonomize” themselves, i.e to concentrate powers as much as possible, and especially to break free from any rigorous control.

Therefore, for humans, powers are both neceassary and dangerous.

This is why governed people imagined, for their rulers, a pact called Constitution, a higher rule that institutes the powers and that sets the limits of each power, without exception. The Constitution is a defying act.

Montesquieu showed that we must weaken the powers by the mean of the Constitution, particularly the executive power which the most dangerous, separating the powers and controlling them (all the time, obviously, and not only during the elections).

But Montesquieu forgot to say to be very careful about WHO is going to write the Constitution: indeed, if the citizens let the people in power to write themselves the limits of their own powers, it’s lost: this citizen negligence naturally leads to the institutionalization of the political powerlessness of the governed people: transformation of the people’s right of self-determination in an elected representative’s right to determine peoples.

It’s not the responsability of people in power to write the rules of power; it’s not the responsability of ministers, elected members, judges to write or revise the Constitution, because they are in fact judge and jury: they have a personal interest in the rules they are instituting and they cheat settling simulated controls and false citizen powers.

When ministers, presidents, members of parliament or judges create or modify a Constitution, it’s an abuse of power. They have an important power and they are taking advantage of it to abuse it. This is a just cause for insurrection.

Members of parliament and ministers are not the owners of national sovereignty, they are only the temporary depositaries of it. When they transfer our sovereignty without our direct agreement, without referendum, they behave like tenants who would sneakily sell the house…

To understand what happened to us during the construction of the European Union, we have to see that what matters it not who VOTES the Constitution, what matters is who WRITES the Constitution.

The “Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe”, the TCE, is an anticonstitutional treaty:

First because it is constitutional: in fact the TCE creates a constitution, by the nature of the rules that it imposes in terms of powers, dangerous rules by essence: power to legislate, power to govern, power to judge… In fact, without our agreement, the European institutions gradually replace the national institutions.

Regardless of the label that its authors put on it, —”treaty” or “constitution”—, it is certainly a (bad) constitution which had never told its actual name that our ministers have written for 50 years:

a. Extrem weakness of the parliament (hidden by little progress blown up out of proportion)

b. Confusion of powers in the hands of the executive power (in important fields and dissimulated, “non legislative acts” for exemple)

c. Tight dependance of the judges towards the executive powers

d. Non control of powers (no organisation is hold responsible for its acts)

e. Excessive and unjustified protection of government officers

f. Political powerlessness of citizens (no referendum by popular initiative)

g. Manipulable information: media, statistic and poll agencies under influence (no constitutional rule protects the political and economical independence of information organisations)

h. Monetary scuttling (independence of the European Central Bank which mission of fighting inflation fosters unemployement; interdiction for the States to create money to finance public investments, which forces ruinous interests and a suffocating public debt).

i. Two-speed constitutional revisions: impossible with the people (“ordinary” procedure of tripe unanimity) and easy without the people (“simplified” procedure without referendum).Besides, because we cannot impose a Constitution by treaty, and the only acceptable source of power being the popular sovereignty, the TCE, like other treaties before it, is fondamentally unacceptable for the people it violates, and is an anticonstitutional treaty.

Citizens must claim ownership of the Constitution. They must write is themselves, and then it is still their duty to protect it like their most precious tool against abuses of power. We can delegate everything but this very power.

Therefore, we need a honnest constituent process, a Constituent Assembly in which the members do not write the rules for themselves, members independent from parties and any other organisation that practices or seeks power.

And the only mean to identify constituents independant from people of power is to let everyone freely choose the citizens they consider “brave”, without being imposed the candidates from parties.

We especially need to choose constituents by sortition among these “brave” identified out of the parties.

Finally, the consituents must declare they are ineligible for the functions they institue.

In short, we must strictly separate the constituent powers from the constituted powers. When the citizens will manage to impose this fondamental democratic hygiene, they will finally get out of the “prehistory of democracy”.

And of course, we cannot count on parties and their friends to debate and let know about this statement: it’s the duty of citizens to share this idea if they think it is a good one; to emancipate from the thieves of power. This stake ressembles the referendum debate of 2005.

The main candidates in power, those who impose to us the parties and media, will do everything they can to be elected without the need to debate a single time about their high level abuses of power. They will create of diversion with non-topics. It’s our responsability to impose a public debate on these abuses of power.

An “electoral insurrection” could change everything: the only mean to be emancipated from the wardship of parties it to elect a candidate out of party, whom only programme would be to organize the sortition of the Constituent Assembly. It is the only viable procedure to protect the people against abuses of power.

By Etienne Chouard

This post was originally published in French on R-é and the original text is in this pdf file.

English translation: Nicolas Giroux

See this mind-blowing TEDx talk from Etienne Chouard (with English subtitles): Seeking the cause of the causes

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About me
I'm passionate about sustainable lifestyles and urban agriculture. I believe that community-supported initiatives and bottom-up policies are key to foster necessary societal changes. I'm an advocate of degrowth, agro-ecology, sharing economy and participatory democracy. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia, I like learning, reading, writing, sharing, hiking, dancing, eating, and celebrating.
Nicolas Giroux
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