nhaliday + acemoglu + flexibility   1

Tocqueville on Mexico | Marginal Restoration
The Constitution of the United States resembles those beautiful creations of human industry which insure wealth and renown to their inventors, but which are profitless in other hands. This truth is exemplified by the condition of Mexico at the present time. The Mexicans were desirous of establishing a federal system, and they took the Federal Constitution of their neighbors, the Anglo-Americans, as their model, and copied it entirely. But although they had borrowed the letter of the law, they could not introduce the spirit and the sense which give it life. They were involved in ceaseless embarrassments by the mechanism of their double government; the sovereignty of the States and that of the Union perpetually exceeded their respective privileges, and came into collision; and to the present day Mexico is alternately the victim of anarchy and the slave of military despotism. … To the south, the Union has a point of contact with the empire of Mexico; and it is thence that serious hostilities may one day be expected to arise. But for a long while to come, the uncivilized state of the Mexican people, the depravity of their morals, and their extreme poverty, will prevent that country from ranking high amongst nations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1824_Constitution_of_Mexico

Influences from the United States on the Mexican Constitution of 1824: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.jstor.org/stable/40167747

Beyond the indirect influence of Americans on the shaping of the Mexican constitution was the fact that its draftsmen made extensive adaptations from the American instrument of 1787. In some parts theConstitution of 1824 was almost a transcript of its Philadelphia prototype, but viewed in the whole it was not a slavish copy. Much substance and many particular provisions were taken from the liberal Spanish Constitution of 1812.37 Although the Mexican lawmakers may have reposed a naive faith in the American system, they certainly altered the borrowed provisions to fit the peculiar situation in their own country. A comparison of the two documents will demonstrate this.

In certain broad aspects the two constitutions were strikingly similar.38 The basic principle of a confederation of semi-sovereign states into a single political entity - with a balance of power between executive, legislative, and judicial departments - was the same in both Moreover, each charter expressed the same general aspirations toward liberalism in providing for the advancement of education and science the establishment of patents and copyrights, the freedom of the press, and the abolition of such abuses in the administration of justice as torture, confiscation of property, ex post facto laws, search and seizure without a warrant, conviction without proper legal procedure, and imprisonment on mere suspicion. The Mexican constitution, however, did not guarantee the peculiarly Anglo-American institution of trial by jury.

https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/901528359313735680
Mar 6, 1882, Sen James George:

If it were true (which I deny) that this bill is in conflict with the logic of the political theories in regard to the rights of mankind, which have heretofore prevailed in this country, that is no insuperable objection to its passage. I do not deny that every measure should be weighed and considered in the light of accepted and recognized principles, but I do deny that every measure, however necessary to the welfare and the happiness of the people of the United States, however accordant to the teachings of experience and history, should be condemned because it conflicts with the theories of a speculative and Utopian scheme for the administration of the affairs of this world.

Our Government has attained its present astonishing grandeur and vigor because it is the result of the growth and development of Anglo-Saxon ideas, put into practical operation by Anglo-Saxon common sense. It has not grown according to a rule prescribed by an inexorable logic, reasoning from premises which assumed an ideal perfection in human nature and attainable in human institutions. Our Constitution is the work of men, intended for the government of men, not of angels or demi-gods. It recognizes human frailties and human passions, and seeks no unattainable perfection. It was made by the American people for themselves and their posterity, not for the human race. It was ordained by the American people for their own happiness and their own welfare, and the welfare of such others as they should choose of their own free will to admit to American citizenship. That our institutions are stable; that they attain the ends of good government-security to life, liberty, and property, the progress and happiness of the American people; that they can stand any strain, however great, occasioned by unlocked-for and calamitous emergencies, is because they were evolved and were modified as circumstances demanded, and were not the result of the a priori reasonings of political theorists."

But even more striking than the similarities were the differences. The most significant of these were in the provisions that defined church-state relations, and in those that outlined the powers of the president. A foundation-stone of the American system was the guarantee of freedom of religious thought and worship. Although the United States Constitution contained no expression of this principle, the First Amendment in 1 79 1 specified that Congress could make no law respecting "the establishment of religion" or the prohibition of worship. In direct contrast was Article III of the Mexican Constitution, which read: "The religion of the Mexican Nation is, and shall be perpetually, the Apostolic Roman Catholic. The Nation protects it by wise and just laws, and prohibits the exercise of any other." Purity of religion had been one of the tenets of the Plan of Iguala in 1821, and this fact rendered it difficult if not impossible to omit such a provision in the Constitution of 1824.

Because they had experienced the evils of a weak central authority under the Articles of Confederation, the founding fathers of 1787 invested the office of president with strong powers. Exactly the reverse was true in Mexico in 1824. The Mexican framers had before them the example of the dictatorial rule of Iturbide, and consequently they hedged the executive office with restrictions so that the incumbent could not legally exercise extreme power. As in the American system, the Mexican president would serve four years; but unlike his northern counterpart he could neither succeed himself nor again hold the office until four years had elapsed. He was designated commander-in-chief of the national forces, but could not command in person without the consent of the federal legislature. His "regulations, decrees, and orders" were not effective until signed by the secretary of the department to be governed by them, and he had no appointive power over the courts. The judges of the Supreme Court of Mexico were to be elected by the majority vote of the state legislatures.

related: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:f6ee8773e981
(Greg mentioned common law in one interview)

https://twitter.com/NoamJStein/status/952598279359000582
https://archive.is/D68Vm
https://archive.is/GcsWK
https://archive.is/kJMAa
it's not even a hypothetical: newly independent Latin Americans in the 19th century copied the US constitution, sometimes word for word. didn't work, obviously

The word "Institutions" has become a form of stopthink.
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december 2016 by nhaliday

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