Revolution #223, January 23, 2011
Discussion on the Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America (Draft Proposal)
Discussion in High School
Discussing the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) in Class
From readers of Revolution newspaper
Recently we had the opportunity to discuss the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) in high school classes.
With some students, we had them split up into smaller groups and each group chose a different section from the Constitution and then they shared what they learned collectively. We had selected, printed out and distributed different sections for students to choose from ahead of time. The three sections that students picked out for this exercise were on “Education” (in Article I); “Legal and Civil Rights and Liberties” (Article III, Section 2); “Eradicating the Oppression of Women” (Article III, Section 3).
We encouraged them to get inside these contradictions and many did (and some were even compelled to want to re-think some things).
In the group focusing on “Legal and Civil Rights and Liberties” there was a lot of grappling with what’s on pages 66 and 67, in particular where it mentions that “special bodies” would have been set to “review, as quickly as possible, the cases and the situations of all those who had been incarcerated under the old imperialist system and who remained imprisoned at the time of the founding of the New Socialist Republic in North America.” So, there were questions and concerns among the students about this process. As part of the “group exercise,” the students imagined themselves as part of this “special body” that would be responsible for the release of prisoners who had been unjustly imprisoned. The students discussed many aspects of this, including the “educational process” this would involve for both the prisoners and the broad masses of people throughout society to better “understand the actual reasons and causes for crime in the old society.” And at times there was sharp back and forth as to who should be “let out”; for example, some students thought that people who had been caught doing drugs and perhaps did small scale selling should be treated differently (e.g., they should be given help and let out sooner) than the people who had been hard core “distributors” and had been responsible for hurting thousands of people. Again, we kept going back to the content of the Constitution in attempting to answer these questions.
The group dealing with overcoming the oppression of women read page 76 (Article III, Section 3). After reading it and discussing it they came to agree with much of it, especially because it helped them understand that women in the U.S. are still oppressed. One Latina student talked about her personal experience having to deal with machismo among the men in her family and she wanted to understand why men felt like they could treat women “like they own them.”
In the breakout group on “education” they mentioned that they liked that people would get to learn both Spanish and English. There was a positive view with both Latino and Black students on this point, although some students at first had raised concerns over what would happen in areas where languages other than Spanish and English were spoken. So the students read page 33 of the Constitution where it says that “in any areas where significant sections of the population have another language as their first language, efforts and resources shall be devoted to providing education in that language as well.” So this helped to clear things up. A woman student (representing for the group) stood up and said, “We agree with this part of the Constitution because it will allow people to get an education and to be able to use that education to help people.”
So, this was just a part of all that got unleashed as a result of discussing the Constitution. It really helped, among other things, to really lift the students’ sights to a whole new world that’s not only necessary but also possible. And it gave us (readers of Revolution) a deeper sense of the tremendous role that this Constitution can play today in training and preparing students and many others to lead a radically new society after the revolution.
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