"I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of government but what may be a Blessing to People if well-administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other."
- Benjamin Franklin's review of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 (from Gore Vidal's Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson).
A friend of mine came from Iran shortly after the revolution that catapulted the Ayatollah Khomeini into power. I asked him what was most remarkable about the transition from Iran to the U.S. He said, "All the things that are being taken away. Liberty. Freedom. Privacy. Refusal to torture. In Iran, they used religion to intimidate and to support law."
Perhaps Ben Franklin was right that we will simply become too corrupt to maintain a great government. But for me this kind of thing is so unnecessary. There are a lot of problems we haven't yet solved. For instance, how to create a thriving economy without creating lots of green house gases. Or how to ensure a sense of meaning to employees and citizens within large companies or countries. But the problems of individual liberties, of keeping religion out of government, of privacy - these are problems that we've solved. It is the worst kind of idiocy to turn our backs on those already provided solutions and retreat from progress.