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New Socialist Magazine Jacobin: 'Burn the Constitution'

By Mark Judge | March 23, 2016 | 2:56pm EDT
U.S. Constitution (AP photo)

Jacobin, a new socialist magazine, has published an essay advocating destroying the U.S. Constitution.

The magazine, which was launched in 2011 and is published four times a year, is the creation of Bhaskar Sunkara. Sunkara, 26, is the son of immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago. He lives in Brooklyn.

A new profile on Vox.com argues that "Jacobin has in the past five years become the leading intellectual voice of the American left, the most vibrant and relevant socialist publication in a very long time."

Jacobin claims a circulation of 15,000 with a web audience of 750,000 a month. A 2013 profile of Sunkara in the New York Times revealed that when Seth Ackerman, a graduate student at Cornell, wrote a piece critical of the U.S. Constitution, Sunkara came up with the title: "Seth had a title with nine words and a semicolon. I crossed it out and wrote 'Burn the Constitution.'"

Ackerman's article argues that the Constitution, with its governmental checks and balances, prevents "the democratic will" and "popular sovereignty." Ackerman criticizes both conservatives and liberals for what he calls "Constitution fetish."

Some excerpts:

It stands to reason that a document drafted by a coterie of gilded gentry, openly contemptuous of “democracy” and panicked by what they saw as the mob rule of the 1780s, would seek to constrict popular sovereignty to the point of strangulation. Thus, brilliantly and subtly, the system they built rendered it virtually impossible for the electorate to obtain a concerted change in national policy by a collective act of political will. The Senate is an undemocratic monstrosity in which 84 percent of the population can be outvoted by the 16 percent living in the smallest states. The passage of legislation requires the simultaneous assent of three separate entities — the presidency, House, and Senate — that voters are purposely denied the opportunity to choose at one time, with two-thirds of the Senate membership left in place after each election. The illogical electoral college gears the whole combat of presidential elections around a few, almost randomly determined, swing states that happen to contain evenly balanced numbers of Democrats and Republicans. And the entire system is frozen in amber by an amendment process of almost comical complexity...

What is equally lamentable is that the recent rise (or, rather, return) to prominence of this constitutional crankery has spawned a whole genre of anxious liberal commentary aimed at rescuing the document’s honor from the clutches of uncouth reactionaries. It is an article of faith in this commentary that the Glenn Beck crowd simply misunderstand the Constitution and the intentions of the Founders. They labor under the illusion that our founding text enshrines conservative principles, when in reality (the claim goes) it’s an ambiguous document whose meaning is contested and always changing — or maybe even a warrant for ceaseless progress and change. But whatever it is, the Constitution according to today’s liberals is always misunderstood and never at fault, usually treated with a fond if wised-up reverence and never with the disapproving righteousness of the more advanced progressives...

It is a measure of our current ideological morass that liberals, in their own enlightened and open-minded way, still masochistically embrace a throne-and-altar orthodoxy that subordinates the people’s will to a virtually unalterable diktat handed down by an ancient council of aristocratic, semi-deified lawgivers. 

 

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