Revolution #223, January 23, 2011
Discussion on the Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America (Draft Proposal)
A Highly Welcome Development...
First, I think this is a highly welcome document—a concrete proposal which gives guidance about what revolution is for and what it is aiming at in the short term as well as in the long term. It’s aiming at a correct relationship between proletarian dictatorship and democracy.
I think that a key relationship—and contradiction will be the socialist state as a base area for world revolution. This is very correctly emphasized in the Constitution (Draft Proposal) and will be an ongoing constitutional issue in political and ideological struggle in society. I expect continual tension in society in terms of democracy under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Here’s how I see this contradiction: In its solid core the RCP and the state in which it has a leading role represents an international class—the proletariat—most of whom are not within the governance of this state or able to participate in its political process. To advance to communism the state will need to continually act on behalf of billions of people who do not have a direct, legally compelling, voice in its representative institutions. To put it in bourgeois terms, people outside the state are not “stakeholders” in the sense that residents are. The state can make serious errors in the direction of abandoning to various degrees its basic international responsibilities (and fundamental social base). This is the main danger and if not corrected will ultimately lead to abandoning revolution and socialism. The state can also override its domestic political process in the name of international responsibilities and get into a situation where its constitutional integrity is threatened. If not correctly dealt with this will end up flipping over to the main error above. There is a lot of relevant history, I think, in anti-colonial struggles and nationalist movements as well as in the history of the communist movement. I think the history of the Ba’ath Party in the Middle East is worth studying in this regard.
I don’t think this can be resolved in a constitution per se. One thing that would help clarify terms would be some solid constitutional case law. It is likely that upon assuming power a new state would be in a situation of revolutionary ferment on a world scale. My thought is that good agreements should be concluded with other forces in the world at that time with such agreements being based on and explicitly including solid internationalist principles. Such agreements could have the domestic side effect of generating a legal basis for future reference. (Note: I understand that the Constitution (Draft Proposal) does not have something like the old U.S. constitution thing of treaties being the “supreme law of the land.” That’s not what I’m suggesting either.)
Elections: The electoral process will require election law supplemental to the Constitution. I think the Anglo-American tradition of “winner take all” elections is, even on bourgeois terms, very restrictive of people’s political choices. One current reform idea might have applicability in a socialist electoral system. This is “instant runoff voting” whereby voters can rank candidates by order of preference on ballots in multi-candidate elections.
This Constitution (Draft Proposal) needs to be widely commented on. I think an interactive public internet forum should be set up for this purpose.
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