Robert Ovetz, "We the Elites: Why the US Constitution Serves the Few" (Pluto Press, 2022)


We have been ruled long enough. It is time to govern ourselves. If we are to get past the Constitution and all systems based on constitutions, we need to move past the nation state as the means by which we are governed from above.

– Robert Ovetz, We the Elites (2022, p. 167)

Written by 55 of the richest white men of early America, and signed by only 39 of them, the constitution is the sacred text of American nationalism. Popular perceptions of it are mired in idolatry, myth, and misinformation - many Americans have opinions on the constitution but have no idea what’s in it.

The misplaced faith of social movements in the constitution as a framework for achieving justice actually obstructs social change - incessant lengthy election cycles, staggered terms, and legislative sessions have kept social movements trapped in a redundant loop. This stymies progress on issues like labor rights, public health, and climate change, projecting the American people and the rest of the world towards destruction.

Robert Ovetz’s reading of the constitution shows that the system isn’t broken. Far from it. It works as it was designed.

From the introduction:

‘The Framers genius was in designing a virtually unchangeable system that provides the people with a semblance of participation and allows a few to select some representatives while the rest of us relinquish the power to self-govern. How and why they did that, why it still functions in that same way, and why we need to move past it is the focus of this book.’

Professor Ovetz is a senior lecturer in political science and public administration at San Jose State University and a lecturer in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His first book, When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1924, was published in 2018 by Brill/Haymarket Books. His second book was an edited volume in 2020 entitled, Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle: Strategies, Tactics, Objectives also published by Pluto Press.

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