Leviathan and Sisyphus

The belief that we can successfully limit government if only we use the right words, is, sadly, misguided. The problem isn’t a political one: no word (or phrase) is uninterpretable, and there can be as many interpretations as there are interpreters.

We could attempt to fix this – and “fix” our constitutions – by saying “word W means, and only means, definition D”. But this will not do. D is composed of the words X Y Z, say, each of which in turn is open to interpretation. The problem is not solved (though it is certainly made more tedious) if we further define X as E and only E, Y as F and only F, and Z as G and only G; each definition, E F G, must likewise be composed of words, each of which is open to further interpretation. This process can obviously be repeated indefinitely – either by those with too much time on their hands, or those who are sufficiently motivated by the prospect of retaining and/or expanding their political power.

Twitter @StrictlyLiberal

Google+ Rocco Bogpaper

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