This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Uselessness of abstract constitutions

The importance of written documents is often overemphasized, and they are given place as causes when they are more often effects. In other words, the literary or legal production is evidence of the presence of certain principles or beliefs, but does not create, instill, or guarantee them. They can edify, they can celebrate, those principles, but they cannot guarantee them. Only the life of the culture itself can maintain what the constitution proposes. We can say, as a rule, that constitutions are useful so long as they are superfluous.

This leads us to the problematic idea of constitutions as universally valid. For if the document is only the ‘witness’ of a living entity and not the entity itself, then it is obviously not possible for any constitution to be witness, in the abstract, for any and all nations. Its structure and content must be specific to the political life that it proclaims and describes. There is no constitution for all and that can be ‘carbon copied’ for disparate peoples with the expectation that it will have the same results for everyone. This is what de Maistre warned against:

“A constitution that is made for all nations is made for none: it is a pure abstraction, an academic exercise of the mind, according to some hypothetical ideal, that should be addressed to man, in whatever imaginary realm he inhabits.

“The constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man. In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.”[1]

[1] Joseph de Maistre, Considerations on France.

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