Bet 612

Duration 776 years (02011-02787)

“The spirit of the current Constitution of the United States will not be in force continuously for 1000 years. At some point at or before its millennium, it will have been suspended, revoked, superseded or otherwise have ceased to be considered in full legal force.”

Bruno B.A. Parga


Parga's Argument

The nation-state is a relatively new political idea, its current near-ubiquitousness notwithstanding. The central question to this prediction is: how long will it last? How long can a given modern State last without losing its defining features? In case a Bet arises from this Prediction, the condition for the other side to win is the September 17, 01787 U.S. Constitution to have remained in full force as the "supreme law of the land" at all moments until the end-date, without changes contrary to its democratic spirit. This is admittedly a strict condition; the idea is for the challenger's case to present the reasons why they believe that, in spite of all possible vicissitudes, the Constitution is well enough engineered so as to be able to survive another three-quarters of a millennium. So, I believe any of the following Conditions will happen, which would make my prediction true: (1) - The end of the Universe, the Earth or all forms of consciousness able to consider the Constitution to be in force (this would probably make giving the proceeds to charity a little difficult, but that's another story...). (2) - The end of the United States as a State, without the Constitution being passed on to any successor State with a relevant historical link to it. That is, if Soviet Rhodesia successfully conquers all of America, the bet is won; if, however, the Minneapolis Republic continues upholding the Constitution, it is lost; alternatively, if the Himalayan Confederation unilaterally decides to adopt the Constitution as its own, without being admitted into the U.S., that does not count as keeping the Constitution "alive". (3) - The Constitution is formally repealed, according to procedures which reflect the general will of the people subject to its force, regardless of what is substituted for it. (4) - The spirit of the Constitution is subverted, its fundamental principles no longer being applied. Its "spirit" is understood here as encompassing the principles of the rule of law, limited government, consent of the governed and of fundamental, equal individual rights, among which are the ones enshrined in the Bill of Rights. This criterion, which is indeed somewhat subjective, intends to allow for Amendments which would reasonably be considered in line with the spirit of the Constitution as it has been conceived and interpreted throughout the years, while ruling out changes whose content, or whose form of enforcement, would generally be considered as contrary to the Constitution as it is and has been. (5) - The Constitution is held as not applying, even if only for a moment - e.g. as an exceptional measure by an authoritarian government. This would include the hypothesis of the Constitution being held as valid, although with an inferior status to some other law - for instance, that of a "World Government" of any kind. For the purposes of this Prediction, the Constitution is considered to have been in full force throughout the period since it has entered into force, regardless of any claims to the contrary. Also, given the possibility of other forms of intelligent beings, the spirit of the Constitution is considered to refer to human beings. This includes any beings whose most primal data-processing activity is carried out by human brain cells, defined by the current genome encoding their formation or any natural or artificial rearrangements thereof, but excluding the implantation of extraneous biological or artificial material. The Long Now Foundation may constitute a committee composed of human intelligences, as defined here, to ascertain doubtful cases. It should be noted that the intelligences considering the Constitution to be in force should not necessarily be all human, only the individuals to whose rights the spirit of the Constitution refers. The mention to the Earth in Condition (1) does not preclude the possibility of the Constitution being considered in force elsewhere in the Universe. Should it be continuously in force anywhere, the challenger will win the bet even if the Earth ceases to exist or the Constitution ceases to be in force on Earth while remaining elsewhere. Furthermore, the end-date is set to the millennium of the signing of the Constitution, not the ratification, for no particular reason - September 17, 02787 just looks better than June 21, 02788. Given possible changes in timekeeping, the end-date is specified as being the last moment of that Gregorian date in the Washington, D.C. time zone, according to the International Atomic Time (TAI), or its equivalent in any higher-precision substitute time standard which does not take into account changes in the Earth's rotation. Two final comments worth making. First, I propose the amount of the Bet to be $500 from each side. Second, the purpose of this Prediction is exclusively to stimulate debate and reflection. I am most definitely not opposed to the Constitution; in fact, I find it a brilliant piece of statecraft, and that is precisely why I chose it to represent the whole concept of the nation-state. I would certainly not like to live to see some of the possible scenarios I described above come true!

Challenge Parga!

Challenge Bruno B.A. Parga to a bet on this prediction!