Good poststructuralists should be be cheering on Magna Carta celebrations.
You know it’s very easy (too easy) to be cynical about Magna Carta if you’re primarily concerned with the intentions of the people who caused it to be. It was (of course of course of course) never intended to provide some kind of prophetic blueprint for liberal democracy. It was never (of course of course of course) intended to enshrine inalienable rights for all citizens. It was a means by which the baronial classes could resist the crown. As for the so-called “common people” – some of them stood to lose more by an unfettered aristocracy than an unfettered crown.
But this kind of cynicism is only warranted if you are a naive intentionalist when it comes to language. If you think that words are mere vehicles of thought – the transparent reflections of secure pre-existing intentions, then you may sneer at all the 800th anniversary commemorations ongoing today.
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