Wise Counsel; A Universal Human Right and Obligation
Three Magisterial Orders
By John Taylor; 2009 Dec 11, Qawl 19, 166 BE
Précis: The 24th Chapter of Panorthosia is one of the most important documents in the history of political science, yet it is all but unknown. Here I point at only some of its lessons for lasting reform. Using the Roman model, Comenius proposed that corruption can by avoided if official administration is supervised by three kinds or "orders" of magistrate, each concerned with piety, peace and order, respectively. Source: Panorthosia, Ch. 24, para 1, pp. 110-111
Society thrives only when we can depend upon law and order. Traditionally in the West we pay more attention to law than order, and the order we maintain serves the status quo, not necessarily the true object of law and society summed up in the Roman saying: Salus popoli suprema lex, the safety of the people is the supreme law. Especially in English speaking lands, rather than laying everything out, we let the invisible hand of Laissez Faire rule our daily lives. We pay for a large, elaborate legal system to dole out punishments, but we neglect to reward planners and social benefactors. Honors and rewards go to business and the military, not to those who benefit officialdom. John Amos Comenius envisioned a corrective, a balanced "teaching, law and order system" run by magistrates in every center of power.
"The world will be more orderly if every political system, or state or city has magistrates who are devoted to piety, peace and order." (Panorthosia, Ch. 24, para 1, p. 110)
He envisioned three types or "orders" of magistrate, consuls, judges and ephors. The consul upholds piety and moral behaviour by offering advice to all comers. A second magisterial profession is concerned with peace, the judge, is trained not only in the law but also dispute resolution. The judge settles disputes and lawsuits that slip past the consuls. These, he said, should be pious and righteous themselves, yet be tolerant, unwilling to use force and compulsion. The third type are ephors or censors who are primarily concerned with order. They see that everything is done in proper order. To do that, they must "have a most observant eye" and be willing to assert authority over the first two orders of judge.
The consul is a teaching magistrate, expert in the use of publicity for raising the general standard of moderation, ethics and piety. Consuls are not only teachers but also Ombudsmen and what are now called public relations experts, except that they are a regulated, scientific and autonomous profession. They take questions, explain rules and regulations, offer apologia for the law and give general counsel to everybody. They offer preventive medicine, flagging forensic diseases in early stages. They aim to solve public and private difficulties before lawbreaking enters anybody's mind. These magistrates would, in Comenius's words, "make themselves fully available to all men at stated times and give advice on all kinds of business for the purpose of smoothing out any public or private difficulties." This profession is affiliated with the College of Light, the science and education wing of government, and they are paid in the eduterra currency. The consul has a budget of grants to distribute at his or her discretion.
As for the qualifications of consuls, Comenius held that they must be "very wise men and know how to inform the ignorant." As good teachers they can explain the law in clear terms and convince both officials and the general public alike of its fairness. Where real unfairness exists in spite of the law, or because of it, they know how to take the problem to the proper authority for resolution.
Judges and Ephors
The second order of magistrate are judges, whose main concern is peace. These guardians or justices of the peace adjudicate disagreements and resolve disputes. They should be "very righteous and reluctant to use compulsion." They are employed by the political wing of government, the Dicastery of Peace, whose budgetary currency is the paxterra.
The Third order of magistrate is the ephor, senior to the first two orders of magistrate, who "sees to it that everything is done in proper order." Similar to the ancient Roman post of censor, the ephor sees to it that rules and initiatives promote the social good and further the goals and plans of the community. The ephor is an officer of the Ecumenical Consistory, and is paid and budgeted in its currency, the ecuterra. As such, he or she is especially concerned that religions devote themselves exclusively to spiritual needs and that inter-faith relations remain harmonious.
Purpose of Magistracy
The similarities among these three orders of magistrate, the PR specialist, the guardian and the planner who rules them, are greater than their differences. "Their main qualification is that they should all have the knowledge, the will and the ability to do good works." Comenius seems to have the magistrates in mind as the solution to problem of corruption in high places, the problem that some would have us solve with constant video surveillance.
Instead of surveillance by hidden cameras, magistrates would investigate the slightest abuse of power. They act as Big Brother not to the people but to their leaders. Their role is to see to it that leaders not only refrain from exploitation but show before all else the highest example of piety and rectitude.
"It is essential that those who are appointed to rule over others should themselves be honest, wise, pious, brave, and vigilant, since nothing can rule unless it is right, nor enlighten unless it is full of light. It is absurd for kings to be ruled, or for leaders to be led by other men. The real sun does not need oil poured into it."
Without magistrates, living supervisors of the reality the law rules over, the law really is blind, in a bad way as well as in the sense of being impartial. Rules and regulations do not care or nurture. Legality is a blunt instrument that, applied automatically, can be easily abused. It uses negative punishments for violations of the law but does not reward upright behaviour. In contrast to this, the triad of magistrates are pro-active and positive, and make the law into a more precise and elegant tool for social improvement.
Right to Comprehensive Counsel
Most of all, the magistrates dole out the most effective reward of all for citizens as autonomous agents. Not money, but advice. Today people have come to realize the value of wise counsel and enlightening guidance. An entire self-help publishing industry has grown up devoted to encouraging and counselling people as to what to do and how to think and act. The three magistrates would supervise a system where everybody has ready access to a roomful of aids and advisors. These advisors would be called in automatically as soon as metric on an individual's dashboard data display indicates a need. This will allow even the lowest person on the totem pole to wield a very complex set of variables without folly or blundering.
"Nevertheless great magnates (who have many heavy responsibilities) are allowed to have assistants who co-operate with them in drawing up their policies and putting them into action, as a safeguard against error and its ill-effects, just as our mind, which rules its own body like a queen, is provided with a guard of senses, such as sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Therefore every king, prince, consul, and even the individual citizen should have (1) his own preacher, as a guardian of his conscience, and a counsellor in the things which concern God, (2) his own lawyer as a supervisor in the things which concern man, (3) his own philosopher or sage to guide him in the business of life, and (4) his own doctor as guardian and director of his physical health." (pp. 110-111)
Traditionally only heads of state and the super-rich could afford a board of select advisors. Comenius contends that this need not be the case. It is the duty of the state to see that even ordinary people can benefit from not only the best information -- this we take for granted now that we have the Internet -- but also the wisest advice from high-level experts. We have no excuse not to make this a fundamental human right. Once we have this right, we must set magistrates over them to see that, in the words of the Gospel, our light never becomes darkness.