Building worker and union power across the various sectors of the 21st century economy requires both scaling up from our dysfunctional firm-based system of collective bargaining, as well as scaling down to the community level to enable greater self-determination over persistent assaults to decent daily conditions of living.
To understand this precarious constitutional moment, we must look back not only to our forgotten anti-oligarchic tradition, but also to the strategies, practices, and ideas that led to earlier moments of retrenchment.
Civil procedure is the infrastructure of democracy, allowing the public to interpret, elaborate, and entrench constitutional-regulatory commitments over time. Rather than sidelining courts entirely, a revival of the democracy-of-opportunity tradition should include a progressive vision of procedure.
“It is not true that the U.S. Constitution has little to say about our economic rights and liberties – let alone our material welfare. Instead, as Fishkin and Forbath argue convincingly, the Constitution has nourished a democracy-of-opportunity tradition that places our equal social rights front-and-center in constitutional practice and politics.”
The historical high-tides for the domestic experience of democracy-of-opportunity have occurred during periods of territorial and global expansionism. A serious effort to recover this tradition entails engaging with its imperial dimensions.
In the introduction to a symposium on their new book, The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution, Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath make the case for reviving interest among progressives in constitutional political economy.