Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Political Institutions

I’ve just read the seventh chapter of The Open Society and Its Enemies: The Spell of Plato, a book by philosopher Karl Popper. I intend to do a thorough review of this book later on, but for now I’ll focus on what Popper calls the theory of unchecked sovereignty vs. the theory of checks and balances.

The former theory assumes the rulers do or should have unchecked power. Popper dismisses this, as even the autocrat depends on the secrete police and military to do his biding. Popper proceeds to claim we should engineer our political institutions to be resistant against a bad ruler, a would-be autocrat (the latter theory).

Concisely, Popper thinks the question of “How we organize our political institutions?” trumps the question “Who should rule?”

This fits well with my support for a constitution protecting rights and democratic procedures, thereby inhibiting a would-be autocrat’s plot.

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