Lawful Rebellion

I believe that a mature society must recognise the possibility of its own failure and should acknowledge the concept of lawful rebellion.

I define this as rebellion which is rooted in a commitment to law:

  • There’s no need for it to be permitted by existing laws but it must arise from an undeniable failure of the established system, it must offer a viable solution to that failure, and it must allow a reasonable opportunity for the established system to implement that solution.

  • Only if that opportunity is ignored does rebellion become justifiable, and even then, to my mind, only if it can address the deeper failings which prevented the resolution of the original grievance. In other words, it must offer not just a solution to the failure of law, but also a solution to the failure of government.

That means having a clear idea, in advance, of what will be put in place if the rebellion succeeds.

Allowing a reasonable opportunity for the established system to implement the solution has two dimensions to it. It means working through established political channels to persuade Parliament to implement reform but it also means challenging the validity of laws – and, if necessary, the validity of the constitution – through the courts.

To my mind, the failure of successive governments to reform existing laws to give everyone fair access to land constitutes an undeniable failure of the established system (and in the case of the current administration I would say that this failure has been wilful). I consider that the proposals I’ve outlined in this project constitute a solution to that failure of government.

I’ve commented elsewhere that the validity of a proposed constitution rests to some extent on the feasibility of introducing it with minimal disruption. However, one concern I have with this project  is that the Convention will shy away from endorsing truly radical reform for fear that doing so would jeopardise the proposed constitution’s chances of being adopted.

If our fall-back position is to carry on as we are, any constitution we propose will be easy to ignore. My feeling is that this whole exercise will be really worthwhile only if it produces proposals which are both well-rooted enough – and respectful enough of tradition – to command support from thoughtful people in the mainstream, and transformative enough to inspire the kind of activists who might take to the streets.

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