From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Mon Jan 05 2004 - 04:07:30 EST

As with economic theory, there was a time in the history of the
Soviet regime when an attempt was made to take seriously the
absurdities of this Communist theory of law and state. For about a
decade during the thirties an influential doctrine was called the
commodity exchange theory of law. According to this theory, the
fundamental fact about capitalism is that it is built on the economic
institution of exchange. In accordance with the doctrine of the
superstructure, all political and legal institutions under capitalism
must therefore be permeated and shaped by the concept of exchange.
Indeed, the theory went further. Even the rules of morality are based
on exchange, for is there not a kind of tacit deal implied even in
the Golden Rule, "Do unto others, as you would be done by"? Now the
realization of communism, which is the negation of capitalism,
requires the utter rooting out of any notion of exchange in the
Communist economy. But when exchange has disappeared, the political,
legal, and moral superstructure that was built on it will also
disappear. Therefore, under mature communism there will not only be
no capitalistic legal and political institutions, there will be no
law whatever, no state, no morality - for all of these in some
measure reflect the underlying notion of an exchange or deal among

The high priest of this doctrine was Eugene Pashukanis. His reign
came to an abrupt end in 1937 as the inconvenience of his teachings
began to become apparent. With an irony befitting the career of one
who predicted that communism would bring an end to law and legal
processes, Pashukanis was quietly taken off and shot without even the
semblance of a trial.

From The Meaning Of Communism To Americans

by Vice-President Richard Nixon
August 21, 1960

An Analysis of Law in the Marxist Tradition
Campbell, Janet


The purpose of this work is to construct theoretically a regulatory
system based on the writings of a selection of Marxist legal
theorists (Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stuchka, Reisner and Pashukanis),
ascertain whether such a system might be considered law, and
determine whether or not there is a legitimate claim for a 'socialist
jurisprudence.' Both theoretical constructs and historical examples
are used during the course of discussion. The results indicate that
there is a viable alternative to law which does not ignore the
regulatory needs of society and is compatible with the Marxist
critique of the legal order. It is fills the gap existing in the
literature of 'socialist law' and articulates a system of social
regulation that can be considered non-legal (thus making it
compatible with Marxist theory). To this date, such an attempt to
define theoretically a regulatory system in communism compatible with
the writings of Marx and Engels has not been made.


"Janet Campbell has set herself the task of showing how a socialist
society could be a truly free societyŠshe has succeeded in providing
a succinct outline of views, a comparative analysis of those views
and her own summation of their contribution to the question. She goes
on to provide her own description of 'regulation' in a socialist
society. This latter is certainly an original and very interesting
analysis of forms of interaction in a communist society." - Hillel
Ticktin, Professor of Marxist Studies, University of Glasgow
"ŠCampbell's book is a refreshing contribution to the fields of legal
and political theory in the current academic milieuŠ. This is an
overview of Marxist-based legal theory, and invaluable for those
interested in the early development of the Soviet Union's Peoples'
Courts. With the exception of John Hazard's work these early Soviet
legal institutions have not been studied with any great depth and so
this area of the book provides a boon to historians of Soviet law.
Campbell goes further, though, by analyzing these institutions in the
framework of legal theory grounded in a Marxist political
economyŠ.also attempts to place the theory in the larger framework of
a functioning socialist societyŠ.and in the proves provides a
trenchant critique of von Hayek and Nove. She then goes on to show
how a system of regulation in socialism may not be considered law at
all in the sense we understand it today. This section provides the
most compelling reading as the author does not shy away from
difficult issues and provides insight to age-old problemsŠ.The
controversy and discussion that will arise from this book is perhaps
the greatest contribution it will make to the field of jurisprudence
and political science. Campbell's arguments are accessible and
well-reasoned and readers both from the political right and the left
will benefit, as will those who simply want background in the area.
The material she covers, the points she raises, and perhaps more
importantly, from the questions and critiques she articulates give
the book an almost timeless qualityŠ.a commendable contribution to
the debate." - Dr. Ian Spencer, Senior Lecturer in Sociology,
Staffordshire University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents (main headings): Foreword; Preface; Introduction 1.
        Marx and Engels (legal and economic relations in capitalism
and socialism; human nature; freedom; authority; democracy) 2.  The
People's Courts (legal concepts of Lenin; law in communism; the
people's courts - reorganization, operation, decision making,
centralization; economic conditions; social vs. political power) 3.
        The Theorists (Stuchka; Pashukanis; Reisner) 4. Theoretical
Synthesis ( control; coercion and obligation; difficulties with
needs-based production; regulation; conflicts; violence) 5.
        Towards a Model (structural components of regulation;
authority and institutions; the Kibbutz - an historical example) 6.
        Conclusions (regulation; coercion; institutional distinction
and norms; procedural distinction; positivism, natural law; the
sociological school) Bibliography; Index

ISBN:  0-7734-6704-1    Pages:  374    Year:  2003
Series: Studies in Political Science Number: 12
Subject Area: Political Science, Political Philosophy & Theory
Imprint: Edwin Mellen Press
USA List Price: $119.95 UK List Price: £ 74.95
Vol. 8 No. 1 (January 1998) pp. 5-8.

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