Constitutionalism Run Amuck


by Shafiq

Democracy is a set of values; democracy is not a set of rules.  If the people of the land cannot contain the values within themselves, no set of rules can keep democracy going. The English people claim to be the world’s oldest continuous democracy based on a continuum of reign that do not have a written constitution. The 1787 constitution of the United States is regarded as a towering landmark in the political history of the civilization. But people seldom realize that the main safeguard of US democracy is not the constitution but the Bill of Rights that ratified the first ten amendments of the constitution. The Bill of rights explicitly enumerates the inviolable rights of the people such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, and free assembly; the right to keep and bear arms; freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, security in personal effects etc. Time and time again in the last two hundred years when complex issues of constitution and people came into debate in legislature and judiciary, the Bill of Rights was deemed the final arbiter.

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  1. There’s a well-known saw: He who speaks a lot, tells more lies. You’ve rightly said. Since there is fewer words in the US constitution, their activities are by far the wider and deeper. But as our constitution speaks a volume, we are by far the less active and love to brag most. In most cases we do not even implement 20% of what we say. Many jeeringly say, had we Banglais had not the power of ‘chapabazi’ (the power of the jaw) we would have been swept away long ago. What the Bill of Rights says, maybe, all are there in our constitution; but the chief items have lost their ways in the labyrinth of a much wider maze of words. And this has made another saw: ‘Kazir goru khatai ase, goale nei’, true to the letter.


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