An Analysis of Law in the Marxist Tradition

Author: 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 society…she 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

“…Campbell’s book is a refreshing contribution to the fields of legal and political theory in the current academic milieu…. 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 economy….also attempts to place the theory in the larger framework of a functioning socialist society….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 problems….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 quality….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