The ascendancy of any elite partially depends upon the success of the practices it adopts. These procedures comprise all the ways by which elites are recruited and trained, all the forms observed in policymaking and administration. The constitution, written or unwritten, embodies the practices which are deemed most fundamental to the governmental and the social order. Constitutionalism is a special attitude toward the efficacy of written words, "a name," writes Walton H. Hamilton, "given to the trust which men repose in the power of words engrossed on parchment to keep a government in order."
Since practices are changeable details within a changing whole, an established elite can use them to defend itself by catharsis, or by readjustment. Catharsis, the harmless discharge of tension, may be fostered by such humble devices as the act of showing solicitude for the bereaved. The ruler is wise to attend to the disasters of the community, and to signify his prompt and earnest sympathy to the survivors. Whether quake, flood, hurricane, drought, or pestilence, the resulting insecurities are potentially dangerous to the social order. Hence the canker of resentment must not be permitted to thrive in lonely sadness. Gestures of condolence plus bread are far more potent than bread alone. It is safer to economize on bread than on condolence.
For purposes of defense by catharsis and minor readjustment an established order can rely upon the rearrangement of its own details. During the nineteenth and