Bibles and Constitutions

There are several fundamental differences between this manifesto and the constitution it contains from most other documents that aim to provide direction on “how to govern” or “how to live”. The most important of these is that it is primarily concerned with defining process rather than merely providing a detailed set of rules. While most constitutions include provisions for amendment, the requirements are generally onerous and are seldom met. For example, the US Constitution has only been amended 17 times in 225 years, an average of once every 13 years. Passing an amendment regarding abortion, gun rights, or equal rights for women or gays is a practical impossibility even though the majority of US citizens would support a binding clarification of our collective preferences in these areas. Matchism in contrast requires that the Goals and the List of Credentials be reapproved by all of The People on a regular basis (yearly). This is required due to Matchism’s accommodation for the fact that these things, and even our moral codes, are shifting continuously and so hard-wiring the policies that are built on them is just a poor engineering practice.

This Matchism manifesto is also far less specific about individual behavior when compared with the governing documents of all organized religions and most constitutions and political treatises. Detailed specifications about how people treat others and what they should eat and how they should dress are not only ineffective, but in many cases counterproductive because they detract from the legitimacy of the parts of the document that are important and useful. The ubiquity of this practice does provide us with one insight, however: A view into the mindset of an authoritarian. It probably wouldn’t even occur to a Neurotypical to specify that you shouldn’t wear wool-blend clothes (as in Dueteronomy 22:11) or any of the other bizarrely specific requirements found in the Bible, the Koran, and even non-religious political treatises such as the Artheshastra and The Analects of Confucius. But this is exactly the kind of thing one would expect from an Authoritarian. Remember that according to Altemeyer 2006, “conventionality” is one of the three characteristics of authoritarians (the other two being prejudice and aggression): Having everyone dress alike and act alike is their preference, and following edicts like these becomes a requirement if authoritarian leaders are given the power to enforce them.

Finally this manifesto replaces the anecdotal backstories and historical references found in most other policy documents with an underpinning of the best available science. Story-based preludes are far too subject to interpretation and so cannot be part of any engineering specification. People are free to make up their own stories or reasons for approving any particular element of Matchism, but this part of the process is not necessary for the resulting policy to be valid and enforceable and so should not be recorded in the Matchspecs themselves. Religious documents are rife with these kinds of opportunities for misinterpretation/reinterpretation, but perhaps the most notable, perhaps even egregious, example is the second amendment of the US constitution:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

The problem here of course is that the first half of the sentence introduces an unnecessary ambiguity into the sentence (i.e., if there is no militia, making the first clause false, does that mean the second part is also false?). There are several lessons to be learned from this example of botched social engineering:

  1. Every individual needs to have an opportunity to review any rule that will apply to them. More reviews mean less chance of making such an obvious mistake.
  2. Every individual needs to have an opportunity to vote on any rule that will apply to them. This is necessary to enable the enforcement of a policy by removing any ambiguity about whether or not it is truly the will of the people.
  3. The justification for a policy should not be encoded in the policy statement itself unless it has validated scientifically. Ad hoc statements (such as the one above about a militia) introduce unnecessary ambiguity and preclude the possibility that different people will have different reasons for approving any particular policy.

Next: The Opposition