Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)


  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

Its here! The New Constitution!

Posted by mrdemocracy on 29,07,2008

The constitution has just arrived by email from the translator in Shanghai, and here were my first reactions to it:

1. Corrections. Should I correct the english? Some/most mistakes I want to leave because they are integral to the document being foreign written. On the other hand, some of them are in some way offensive to Chinese people, as they are non-pc.

2. Should I ask them to re-write parts where I would like something else? Probably not, but its difficult. I have lots of opinions on this matter, thats why I made the project. I chose to give up this power, to see what happens. The first example is the monarchy.

3. Trying to work out what were the writer’s motivations – did he write as he thought the UK is, or the best for us, or the best for us through (in his opinion) the official Chinese view? I chose not to direct him too much, but notice that actually, I would have prefered it for the project if he’d written something which he felt showed a Chinese view (though impossible not to – I was saying to Gracie that we are all products of our upbringing and environments, and you can see this in the language and the translation).

One example which I spotted, just by reading a random part, was something about exclusions (from voting rights?) for ‘criminals and insanities’. We would say the ‘mentally ill’ (would we??) and they would not be excluded – are they? I think it is important to us, even though we don’t get it right, to include people in this way. It shows some cultural difference, a gap, and the limitations of giving up our responsibility to work on our constitution ourselves.

4. The following are refered to: ‘the Country’, ‘the Kingdom’, and ‘the Society’, but not what we would call ‘the State’.

5. I thought the constitution might be quite radical, giving us freedoms, and curtailing the power of the state. It does the opposite…e.g. Demonstrations must be registered, and the freedom of assembly is prefaced with the word ‘peaceful’. Of course they must be peaceful, but those who have demonstrated know, all too often it is the police who are responsible for violence, giving reason to end the demonstration. Those who break the peace are of course breaking the law and must be arrested, but the right to demonstrate of all cannot be infringed so easily. I hoped!!! But its fun reading it.

6. Doh! We already got rid of these hereditary fools, they just came back. The whole document is quite conservative, I don’t think they’ve attempted to write any ideal system for the UK. But then, thats not what I expected. I happy with the result of this arms length and subcontraction, its produced interesting results.

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