Act and power, and the proposal for a Constitution

The constitutional proposal has stimulated a broad national debate. In general, those who are for the Approval highlight advances such as the recognition of native peoples; gender parity and acceptance of sexual dissidence; the solidary State and social rights; the reestablishment of the majority principle in the formation of laws (elimination of supermajorities to approve laws and preventive control of constitutionality, mechanisms of direct democracy). For their part, those who are for Rejection warn of serious dangers for democracy (lack of checks and balances between public functions and a high probability of concentration of power); for the integrity of the State (as an undesirable effect of plurinationality); for the dignity of the human person (abortion without grounds or deadlines, free euthanasia, ideological conception of sexuality); for freedom (excessive role of the State), and for the financial stability of the State (fiscal voracity, public corruption, confiscatory taxes and stifling free initiative, etc.).

Do you notice any regularity in these positions?

Yes, there is. Supporters of the new Constitution emphasize what it contains, what it is. The detractors, what she can become. Act and power, as Aristotle taught. For the philosopher act means the being already realized, that is, what a being already is at a given moment (a seed is a seed in action). The power, instead, it refers to the possibility of something transforming, changing. Power means what at that moment is not, but can become (a seed is a tree in power). In other words, potency is a simple possibility of something becoming something else, or undergoing change.

It is enough to read the constitutional proposal to understand what it is and what it contains, in act. It contains, as has already been said in part, a radical change in the role that is recognized for the State (active, supportive, non-subsidiary role, guarantor of social rights, type of Welfare State), an immediate claim for our original peoples (for the mere fact of ceasing to make them invisible, but mainly with the recognition of their collective rights, respect for their language, traditions and regulatory systems, etc.), an evident improvement in the political and administrative system (true decentralization, parity, reserved seats, elimination of the preventive control of constitutionality, elimination of supermajorities, substantive mechanisms of direct democracy, etc.). For the Approval, that is the new Constitution, in action; Y, in poweris a relevant step to confront and hopefully begin to solve the serious imbalances in Chilean society.

In the path of Rejection, the emphasis is not placed on what the new Constitution is, directly, but rather on the dangers it entails, on what it is in power. For example, in his opinion, the proposed text would allow the enactment of a law that grants the right to an abortion until the day of delivery; or one that, by regulating regional, communal and indigenous autonomies, recognizes the latter such a degree of independence that implies that there are territories closed to the State of Chile and Chileans, and thereby encourage secession; or a law that expropriates certain assets, setting as compensation values ​​lower than the market value, on the pretext that said value is not a fair price; or one that expropriates individual pension savings without compensating, weight for weight, the expropriated funds; or, finally, a law that prohibits the private provision of health services and forces everyone to attend to the public system. all these dangers in poweras is evident, require the enactment of laws in the future.

Leaving aside the fact that it is truly extremely unlikely (I am not exaggerating) that the Constitutional Court considers that laws such as these pass the constitutionality test, for these undesirable effects to occur (as Aristotle teaches) it is necessary for a movement to occur , a change: that the Parliament dictates such exotic laws, an issue that has a probability close to zero (I am not exaggerating either). It may be counter-argued that not all of the grave dangers posed by the proposal require the (unlikely) enactment of legislation. However, the truth is that all these dangers require, if not laws, the concurrence of facts that are totally hypothetical: that “circumstantial majorities” allow a de facto dictator to control at the same time the Executive, the Legislative and the Power Judicial; that the judges lose their independence and become politicized (because the Council of Justice is made up of “only” nine of its 17 members belonging to the judicial sphere – seven judges and two officials of the Justice System – and because the appointments may be co-opted for politics); that the co-legislative powers acted with such a degree of fiscal irresponsibility (although the constitutional proposal prohibits it!) that Chile became bogged down between an overflowing, inefficient, wasteful and corrupt State, and a depressed and, worse, oppressed private sector. (I clarify that I am not saying that all the supporters of the Rejection agree with these omens, but I bring them up because they, however, are undoubtedly included in the range of reasons used by that sector to reject the proposal).

Thus, and following the classic philosopher, we should recognize that there is a kind of epistemic imbalance in this debate: some, the Approval, emphasize what the new Constitution says and is; others, the Rejection, what that text can mean in the future, if certain events occur (hypothetical laws or behaviors). Act and power. You judge.

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