Persons or The People?

Honor Persons or The People?

Contrast the U.S. Constitution with that of Communist China. Ours is an individualist document, theirs, collectivist.

The Constitution begins with WE THE PEOPLE, but few collective references follow. The next and only other “the People” appears is in Article 1, Section 2: “the People of the several States.” The inclusion of the last four words does not allow for an understanding of “the People” as an amorphous monolith, as people are understood to be in socialist countries. That is the last time “the People” appears in our Constitution, the preamble through Article 7.

Thereafter, the document refers to Electors, Citizens, Members, Officers, Inventors, all terms about discrete individuals, and Persons. “Persons” is used eighteen times.

In the Bill of Rights, the term, “the people” is written five times, “persons”, three. Taking private property for “public use” is allowed but within narrow limits.

The Constitution is plainly an affirmation of the rights of persons, individual and discrete, each and every one. It affirms human dignity.

In The People’s Republic of China, things are different. All government action is for the common good. The Chinese constitution is drunk with references to “the people”; persons are only reverenced for their role in the whole. References to “the people” and “the people’s” number 28, references to socialism, socialist, and social number 26, and references to the state number 68. These counts are from only the first 40% of their constitution, 10/25 printed pages.

Other terms showing the weight of collectivism are; the public interest, public order, the whole nation, activities of a mass nature, society, and collective(s). Token claims of respect for individual persons entered in as well; freedom, right, inviolable. But they were obviated by ability of the state to suppress and control property, labor and dissent. It reads, “Privacy of correspondence is protected by law”. We know how well Chinese authorities uphold this!

In summary, our Constitution empowers the person, the Chinese constitution, the people.

Legislative acts, in order to harmonize with the U.S. Constitution, should honor individuals, not the collective will. Property, speech, assembly, religion, and markets should be protected for individuals. Mass transportation, national health, and plans to mitigate global concerns are collective in nature and contravene the spirit of the Constitution.

 

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