Contemporary constitutionalism is a practice of depoliticisation through which capitalist relations of production and exchange are naturalised and placed beyond the scope of formal political contestation. As a determination of the bourgeois state (which is itself the political form of capitalist society), constitutional law reproduces the apparent separation of the political and the economic that distinguishes capitalist social relations. Constitutions are best understood as forms of struggle over the reproduction of capitalist social relations, not (as liberal theorists typically contend) as instruments for structuring political order or as instantiations of fundamental norms. Constitutional law is a matter of conflict, not settlement. Constitutions both mediate and are produced through social antagonism; they are both declarations and effacements of class struggle; they are reproduced through crises, not despite them; and they present profound obstacles to the emancipatory transformation of capitalism’s historically specific social forms.
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