What do you think about and what did you learn from the resources regarding the symbolic power of the constitution?  Is it a good or bad thing that much of its power is symbolic?  What do you think about the arguments for and against a new constitution?  What amendments or suggested changes would you advocate for? I need help writing paper in response to this prompt. It needs to be based on these articles below.  1.) Time Magazine Cover Story:  One Document, Under Siege http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2079445,00.html 2.) The Cult of the Constitution  http://swampland.time.com/2011/01/06/the-cult-of-the-constitution/  3.) We Need a New Constitution: http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/10/news/OE-SABATO10 4.) America Needs a New Constitution: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-kenney/america-needs-a-new-const_b_772288.html 5.) We Don’t Need No Stinkin' Constitution http://townhall.com/columnists/larryelder/2011/07/07/time_magazine_we_dont_need_no_stinking_constitution/page/full

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The basic concept of "symbolic power" derives from Distinction, a book written in 1984 by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. It derives from Engels's notion of "false consciousness" and sometimes is referred to as "soft power." This concept is used to explain the puzzling phenomenon of why the proletariat acts so frequently against its own interests, for example in the case of poor, badly educated white southerners typically voting for Republicans who advocate tax breaks for the rich and weakening the social safety net. The notion of symbolic power suggests that many people believe the self-serving ideological constructs designed to maintain inequality to be foundational truths or natural laws, and thus do not question them. 

The veneration with which both parties cite the Constitution and Founding Fathers in United States political discourse is an example of such symbolic power, as your articles discuss, albeit in more popular and less scientific terms than Bourdieu. In reality, it is a document written by a small group of wealthy white men in the eighteenth century. As very few American would argue that Adam Smith, David Hume, Alexander Pope, or Thomas Paine wrote works of infallible wisdom, that the Constitution is treated as such by many politicians, almost as the scriptural text of a cult, shows the operation of symbolic power. 

The articles you have been assigned argue that it might be time to look at the Constitution more as an important, thoughtful, and historically significant document and less as a sort of infallible inspired text. In the words of Jefferson cited by one of your articles: 

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched …But ... laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. 

As you work on your paper, you should begin by elaborating the concept of symbolic power. Next, you should choose two or three specific areas in which you think society and technology have changed dramatically and argue for whether or not the Constitution remains relevant to them. For example, you might look at how the notion of a well-regulated militia and the right to bear arms should be reviewed in light of changing military technology. One question to ask is whether a law written to regulate single-shot muskets has any relevance to machine guns or nuclear bombs, or whether in an era of high technology warfare it makes sense to have amateur militias at all rather than professional soldiers. 

 

 

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