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Reclaiming Constitutionalism articulates an argument for why, despite the recent advent of theories of global constitutionalism, the constitutional phenomenon remains attached to the state.
Drawing from the idea that constitutionalism historically sought to build social consensus, this book argues that the primary aim of constitutionalism is to create social peace and to shield, rather than to limit, the power of political elites in any given state. Implicit in the effort to preserve social peace is the fundamentally important acknowledgement of social conflict.
Constitutionalism seeks to offer a balance between opposing social forces. However, this balancing process can sometimes ignite rather than appease social conflict. Constitutionalism may thus further a project of social struggles and emancipation, for it incorporates within its very nucleus the potential for an agonistic version of democracy. In light of the connection between social conflict and constitutionalism, the book explores the conditions for and locations of the former.
From the state and the EU to the global level, the book considers the role of citizenship, national identities, democracy, power and ideology, in order to conclude that the state is the only site that satisfies the prerequisites for social conflict. Reclaiming constitutionalism means building a discourse that opens up an emancipatory potential; a potential that, under current conditions, cannot be fulfilled beyond the borders of the state.