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Beginning the World Again: Social movements and the challenge of constitutional change

Book Chapter

· Constitutionalism,Social Movements

"In the challenge of constitutional reform we are presented with a singular opportunity to reconstitute not only our basic law, but our society. We have, as Paine promised us, the “power to begin the world over again,” and to do so in a deliberative, democratic and non-violent manner. If we are serious about constitutionalizing human rights and democracy, we should decide whether the path forward involves a series of amendments or a constitutional convention, as per the procedures of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe the path involves an entirely new constitutional process, a democratic revolution, or popular engagement in global constitutionalism. Perhaps there are multiple paths forward.Decisions about constitutional strategy should be informed not only by an analysis of law and the state, but by an understanding of the kind of social movements necessary for the radical reconstitution of society. Constitutionalism is a social movement form. Constitutionalization is a social change process.The history of American progress is a history of amending America."

Below you may find a link to my pre-editorial version of chapter 3 of the book Human Rights Of, By, and For the People: How to Critique and Change the U.S. Constitution, edited by Keri E. Iyall Smith, Louis Edgar Esparza, and Judith R. Blau and published by Routledge on February 15th, 2017. The version that appears in the book is somewhat shorter. The book features excellent contributions from the editors as well Rodney Coates, Susan Pearce, Kathleen Basile, Steven Panageotou, Steven Foy, Mark Frezzo, Davita Silfen Glasberg, Zachary Elkins, Tom Ginsberg and James Melton.