For more than two centuries, the constituent assembly has been the classical way for government to begin again on a new ground of legitimation. However, in an age of democratic backsliding, new autocrats are hijacking the form of constituent assemblies without the slightest intention of generating public consent. We need a critical theory to assess when constituent assemblies do real legitimation work and when they are just covers for autocratic concentration. I show how our present theory is actually a theory of first constituent assemblies in a particular location. I propose that we use a different theory for assessing second and third and later constituent assemblies in a particular place. A later constituent assembly cannot displace an earlier one unless its democratic pedigree of the second is stronger than the first. Constitutional democracy embeds a normative one-way ratchet.
Our next Annual Conference will take place from July 6-9, 2021. It will be held in a completely novel way as a fully online Conference: ICON•S Mundo.
The Call for Papers for ICON•S Mundo is available here. Submissions for papers and panels must be made by May 1, 2021.
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