A 21st Century Constitution for Jamaica

Have you ever heard the word system. We use it a lot to describe thinks that we do or make. You have seen the likes of computer system, political system, or transportation system. The design goal of most systems is to operate in the an optimum way.

Suppose we wanted take advantage of lessons learned about networked computer systems namely “The Internet” to model a new constitution for Jamaica. Why would we want to do that, you might ask. Well, that dusty document is over 55 years and counting. This is the 21st century and lots of things have changed.  Maybe there are improvements that could drive a country’s economy forward at a faster rate.

With this in mind, lets look at the case of how a nation’s constitution is like a computer operating system. you may recognize operating systems like Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows, Linux, Mac OS, or network services.

A Constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents from which a nation, state, corporation, or the like, is governed.

A Computer’s operating system (OS) manages hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer applications.

So, the correlation we can draw here is that a nations constitution serves the citizens while the operating system serves the software application (APP). but the relationships goes lots further than that.

While a nation’s constitution has specific rules that shape the behavior and culture of citizens, a Computer’s Operating System has specific rules that software applications must follow to get services.

A constitution is a basic building block. It is the foundation of a nation’s behavior and its culture because it tells people what to expect. Operating systems provide a software platform on top of which an application can live. It is the foundation of the environment with specific interfaces that an application can expect.

Governments administer a constitution, writes laws, and provides services to citizens such as roads, water, electricity, security, and records. An operating system serves an application by recognizing input, sending output, keeping track storage, and controlling devices. Its the interface the application has to the physical world.

From the perspective of an application an operating system looks very much like the constitution looks to a citizen. National constitutions are actually systems because the seek the same things as systems. They seek stability, well defined rules, and generally accepted standards.

What System model works best for a Constitution.

Lets take a look at different types of Operating systems and compare them to constitutions.

For the purposes of this comparison there are three basic types of Operating system. One is a centralized of single computer operating system which handles all users and devices. These can be mainframes in a corporation or your Smartphone. A second is a decentralized system of autonomous computing. The other is a Distributed operating system that manages a group of computers on a network or the internet.

While centralized systems a less costly to acquire information systems have evolved towards distributed systems to avoid single points of failure and because the are easier to scale up. In the case of a centralized system failure of the node in the center brings everything to a stop. In the case of a decentralized system each green node can survive even when the central node has failed. Now in the case of a distributed system any node can survive the failure of another since pathways to alternate services can be available.

If operating system architecture can improve computing how can a constitution help to improve a nation and its economy?

Well for one thing we should model it as a distributed system because that type has proven to be the most resilient when responding to failures. A nations economy can be much more responsive and scalable when the services offered are be distributed and multi-sourced.

A constitution that is distributed implies that there will be great separation of powers. Each branch autonomous within the established law. That basically implies that legislative, administrative, judicial and other branches are needed. We can add branches such as Law Enforcement, Defense, and Citizens. Responsive services imply that local and regional governments must have levels of autonomy to execute.

The closest constitutional form to distributed system has been around since Roman times. Its called a republic. Even today, most counties are republics or constitutional republics. Many countries such as the Brazil, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, Ghana, Nigeria, France, and the USA have those separations in a Republic with an independent executive branch.

Jamaica on the other hand is a Constitutional Monarchy.  It does not have an independent administrative branch since the executive cabinet are also legislators and the governor general’s role is ceremonial. The Costodes of each parish represent a layer of Justice parallel to the local judicial system. With a final court of justice elsewhere that layer caps the autonomy of the local system at the upper and lower ends.

A new constitution should establish a separation between the administrative branch and the legislative branch. This can be done by replacing the governor general with a president. It would also conceive an independent branch of Justice with a final court within the nation.

How can a 21st century constitution help Jamaica.

What may happen if Jamaica could successfully transition to a republic?

  • A Constitution for Jamaica, By Jamaicans will invoke a renewed culture. One more natural to citizens.
  • It can provide an acceptable set of standards that people agree to and expect. Thus creating more harmony.
  • Greater separation of powers lets Legislators focus on policy and law while administrators can focus on providing services and enforcement.
  • New legislative and executive positions create different roles for public servants to transition between branches.
  • It could be a frame work that drives the economy upward.


How Can we effect change in the Constitution

The current constitution could use a little sprucing up don’t you think?