JURISPRUDENCE 2.7 MARXISTS AND THE LAW
Man society and change.
Marx attached primacy to the economic system which he regarded as the base upon which everything else (like political institutions, laws, religion, ethics and so on) was predicated. He saw societies are inherently unstable with internal contradictions and conflicts in social systems. Hegel on his part said it was the “power of the negative” that was the root of everything. That only through this tension that any progress towards truth was possible. This is his idealist theory. Marx rejected this and substituted it for dialectical materialism in his Volume 1 of Capital. For Hegel, a person’s private position determined his political status but for Marx it was determined by his property relations. In essence Marx was a materialist. Marx in the German Ideology noted that “the nature of individuals depends on the material conditions determining their production”. That productive forces determine human relations and the economic structure of a society. As new inventions are found and new productive forces are found, the social relations change. History is a history of class struggles. Weber however said that it is the law that affects the economy. While Horwitz said it is the economy that influences the law. These people are just unbelievable. Marx saw the state as a mere political abstraction which was an instrument of class oppression for managing the affairs of the ruling class. At every point in history, there was a stage which supported the interests of the dominant class. he however noted that the state could play an independent role in backward countries and absolute monarchies where “the despot appears as the father of all” uniting all. Theda Skocpol in States and Social Revolution disagreed that the state is an autonomous structure. Miliband criticised that there is no definition of law.
To Marx, the state and law were temporary and would wither away with a revolution which is inevitable as a result of severe economic crisis. Karl Renner too recognised that the society is dynamic. He is criticised on the basis that it is not possible to predict what a revolution would achieve. Also criticised that his theory cannot apply to contemporary societies that his theory is over-simplified but unclear. Dahl (who governs?), Rose (the power structure) and Polsby (Community power and Political Power) that contemporary society is very complex and it is not easy to determine who the ruling class is. Chambliss in Crime and the Legal Process argued that the laws reflect the interest of the general population contrary to what marx believes.
Lenin described Marxism as a distillation of the Classical German Philosophy, English political economy and French utopian socialism. Marxism seeks economic explanation of law. The Key elements include:
- Dialectical Materialism: Which seeks to uncover the laws of change. Marx pointed out that Hegel had his dialectics standing on its head so he would turn it to its feet by rejecting Hegel’s Idealist philosophy and substituting materialism. Noting that matter lies at the base of everything. Marx said; I am therefore I think. Sum ergo cogito. H E posited the law of interrelatedness, law of transformation from quantity to quality, law of unity of opposites.
- Historical Materialism: that society has never been static. First we were in the primitive/communal stage then moved to the slave owning stage where the richer get the poore to work for them. There is tension between the slave and the slave owner which is resolved by a revolution afterwhich classes emerge and the slave owning society develops into a feudal society where land instead of people are owned. There is conflict then a revolution which leads us to the next stage of capitalist society. Conflict again which is resolved by a socialist revolution which ushers in a proletariat dictatorship. Marx: Your jurisprudence is the will of the ruling class? e.g. Land Use Act. Lenin that the laws of a state expresses the actual relations of forces in the class struggle. Marx sees the law in a capitalist society as an instrument of class struggle. The law to defend the few rich. Car Renner that tutke to land is title to domination. Fidel Castro too.
- Political Economy: state cater for the politically dominant. The 1991 Berlin Wall Fall which killed socialism and Grobachev came in 1986 with perestroika. Analyse the class created in Nigeria and how the Nigerian law does not reflect the interest of the majority but favours the poor.
The Bourgeoisie own the modes of production.