Over the last several years, citizens of the West have learned that they can no longer take democracy for granted, and the result has been an explosion of studies re-examining democracy’s foundations. Linda Colley’s new book, “The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen,” is a helpful contribution to this growing field. An eminent historian of Britain, Colley focuses on one critical component of democracy — constitutions.
Democracy, Colley points out, requires defining and demarcating the rules and principles of governing authority. As Thomas Paine put it, “A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.”