William Ophuls proposes a different way of thinking about governance. Inspired by architecture, he articulates a pattern language of politics-a set of thirty-five design criteria for constructing sane and humane polity. Since ancient times, human beings have asked a fundamental question: What is a good society, and how should it be governed? Plato's response was philosophical. In *The Republic*, he searched for an abstract tion of justice to guide political thought and action. Aristotle's response was empirical. In *The Politics*, he tried to discover which constitutions were more conducive to justice in practice. Following Aristotle, the modern era embraced constitutionalism as the royal road to political nirvana. Thus the American founders, who were also inspired by the mechanical worldview, framed a constitutional machine intended to foster individual liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the mechanical worldview is longer intellectually tenable, and constitutional governance is longer practically viable. Far from fostering a society in which men and women flourish according to their own lights, modern polities grow steadily more dysfunctional and oppressive. Ophuls argues that a pattern language best accords with the dawning ecological worldview and the emerging scientific understanding of systems and chaos. He contends that the proper way to shape the political future is t with rigid legal machinery, as is our wont, but instead with flexible design criteria resembling the architectural patterns used for constructing human settlements and dwellings.
William Ophuls spent eight years in the U. S. Foreign Service, serving in Washington, Abidjan, and Tokyo, before receiving a PhD in political science from Yale University in 1973. In 1977, he published *Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity.* It won two prizes and was instrumental in establishing the field of environmental politics. After teaching briefly at Northwestern University, he became an independent scholar and author. He has since published four books on the ecological, social, and political challenges confronting modern industrial civilization. When not at his writing desk, he spends his time rambling in nature, either in his native California or in the mountains of Europe.