Thursday, January 27, 2011

A World Constitution

The nuclear age dawned when atomic bombs devastated two Japanese cities.  Fearing annihilation once America's monopoly on atomic technology disappeared, Robert Hutchins, the Chancellor of the University of Chicago, convened the Committee to Draft a World Constitution.  In 1948, the group published a Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution.  Declaring that "the age of nations must end," the constitution created a strong President, a representative legislative branch, a World Tribunal with extended jurisdiction, and a Tribune charged to defend the civil rights and liberties of the people.  The plan for a World Republic offered an alternative to the fledgling United Nations, which preserved the sanctity of national sovereignty and seemed too weak to deal with matters of war and nuclear proliferation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Icarian Constitution

In the mid-nineteenth century, followers of Etienne Cabet traveled to America to establish "Icaria," a republic founded on socialist and democratic principles.  With the blessing of the Illinois legislature, the Icarians embarked upon a bold experiment in self-governance.  Although they saw themselves as part of an international community, citizens of Icaria also organized themselves into colonies ruled by Icarian law.  In 1850, the people approved a constitution that regulated nearly every facet of economic and social life.  Strife between rival factions within the community, a painful transition from charismatic leadership to democratic governance, and sharp disagreements over property and sex equality eventually led to the dissolution of Icaria in America.