The General Theory of Law and Marxism (Law & Society)
- Publish Date: 2001-10-17
- Binding: Paperback
- Author: Evgeny Pashukanis
E. B. Pashukanis was the most significant contemporary to develop a fresh, new Marxist perspective in post-revolutionary Russia. In 1924 he wrote what is probably his most influential work, The General Theory of Law and Marxism. In the second edition, 1926, he stated that this work was not to be seen as a final product but more for self-clarification in hopes of adding stimulus and material for further discussion. A third edition was printed in 1927. Pashukanis's commodity-exchange theory of law spearheaded a perspective that traced the form of law, not to class interests, but to capital logic itself. Until his death, he continued to argue for the ideal of the withering away of the state, law, and the juridic subject. He eventually arrived at a position contrary to Stalin's who, at that time, was attempting to consolidate and strengthen the state apparatus under the name of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Inevitably, Pashukanis was branded an enemy of the revolution in January 1937. His works were subsequently removed from soviet libraries. In 1954, Pashukanis was rehabilitated by the Soviets and restored to an acceptable position in the historical development of marxist law. In Europe and North America, a number of legal theorists only rediscovered Pashukanis's work in the late 1970s. They subjected it to careful critical analysis, and realized that he offered an alternative to the traditional Marxist interpretations, which saw law simply and purely as tied to class interests of domination. By the mid-1980s the instrumental Marxist perspective in vogue in Marxist sociology, criminology, politics, and economics gave way, to a significant extent due to Pashukanis's insights, to a more structural Marxist accounting of the relationship of law to economics and other social spheres. In his new introduction, Dragan Milovanovic discusses the life of Pashukanis, Marx and the commodity-exchange theory of law, and the historical lessons of Pashukanis's work. This book will be of interest to sociologists, criminologists, and political scientists interested in issues of law and Marxism.