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What does it mean to say that it is 'We the People' who 'ordain and establish' a constitution? Who are those sovereign people, and how can they do so? Interweaving history and theory, constitutional scholar Chaihark Hahm and political theorist Sung Ho Kim attempt to answer these perennial questions by revisiting the constitutional politics of postwar Japan and Korea. Together, these experiences demonstrate the infeasibility of the conventional assumption that there is a clearly bounded sovereign 'people' prior to constitution-making that stands apart from both outside influence and troubled historical legacies. The authors argue that 'We the People' only emerges through a deeply transformative politics of constitutional founding and, as such, a democratic constitution and its putative author are mutually constitutive. Highly original and genuinely multidisciplinary, this book will be of interest to democratic theorists and scholars of comparative constitutionalism as well as observers of ongoing constitutional debates in Japan and Korea.
CONSTITUTIONALISM AND THE IMPORTANCE OF CIVIC VIRTUE
These days, we are apt to combine the two terms “democracy” and “constitutionalism” and talk about “constitutional democracy,” without giving much thought to the nature of the relationship or connection between the two. If we do think about it, however, we will find that there is something of a tension between the two. For democracy usually refers to a form of politics in which the people are the source of power and legitimacy, and it is thus associated with the idea of majority rule. Of course, this is not the whole story, and there may certainly be other, more sophisticated conceptions of democracy. Yet, by and large, it is intimately associated with the ideas of self-rule and selfdetermination through various forms of participation in the political process.
Constitutionalism, on the other hand, refers to the notion of regulating and restraining the political process and government power according to some higher norm that cannot be changed even if the majority wants to change it. It is grounded in the idea that there are some things that are so important that they should be protected against the majority will, which is bound to be always changing and may even be fickle. Of course, in a democratic polity, constitutions can always be amended or revised by the people.
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