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MARXIST THEORY OF

LAW

Christian Arbiol
Andrei Maghirang
John Cedric Comon

Ralph Deiparine
Introduction
Karl Marx views the notion of Marxist Law from the following perspective, Law,
morality, religion, are to [the proletariat] so many bourgeois prejudices, behind
which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.
The assumptions basic to Marxist legal theoryfirst, that God does not exist; and
second, that humans are evolving animalsdeny both the possibility of an absolute
moral code and the existence of any law grounded in any authority other than
human authority. V. I. Lenin says, In what sense do we repudiate ethics and
morality? ...In the sense in which it was preached by the bourgeoisie, who derived
ethics from Gods commandments. We, of course, say that we do not believe in
God.
L.S. Jawitsch, a modern-day Marxist legal theorist, maintains Lenins denial of
anything supernatural, saying, There are no eternal, immutable principles of law.
Therefore, Marxist law cannot be based on anything other than human rationality. In
Lenins words, We repudiate all morality taken apart from human society and
classes.

Basic Information on Karl Marx


Karl Marx was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary
socialist. Born in Prussia, he later became stateless and spent much of his life in
London. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for much of the current
understanding of labor and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic
thought. He published numerous books during his lifetime, the most notable being
The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (18671894).
Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Trier in the Prussian Rhineland, Marx
studied at the universities of Bonn and Berlin where he became interested in the
philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians (a group of radical German intellectuals).
After his studies he wrote for the Rheinische Zeitung, a radical newspaper in
Cologne, and began to work out the theory of the materialist conception of history.
He moved to Paris in 1843, where he began writing for other radical newspapers
and met Friedrich Engels, who would become his lifelong friend and collaborator. In
1849 he was exiled and moved to London together with his wife and children, where
he continued writing and formulating his theories about social and economic
activity. He also campaigned for socialism and became a significant figure in the
International Workingmen's Association.

Marx's theories about society, economics and politicsthe collective understanding


of which is known as Marxismhold that human societies progress through class
struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a
dispossessed laboring class that provides the labor for production. States, Marx
believed, were run on behalf of the ruling class and in their interest while
representing it as the common interest of all; and he predicted that, like previous
socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to
its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism. He argued that
class antagonisms under capitalism between the bourgeoisie and proletariat would
eventuate in the working class' conquest of political power and eventually establish
a classless society, communism, a society governed by a free association of
producers. Marx actively fought for its implementation, arguing that the working
class should carry out organized revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring
about socio-economic change.

Marxist Law The Origin of Law


Marxists explain that law and human rights arise from the interactions of human
beings within social structures that contain economic class distinctions. Class
divisions within societies create conflict and disorder and therefore law (and the
state) comes into existence to deal with this conflict. According to TCM co-author
Friedrich Engels, In order that these...classes with conflicting economic interests,
may not annihilate themselves and society in a useless struggle, a power becomes
necessary that stands apparently above society and has the function of keeping
down the conflicts and maintaining order. And this power, the outgrowth of society,
but assuming supremacy over it and becoming more and more divorced from it, is
the State.
The State that rises to maintain order within society perpetuates the conflict as a
dominant class wielding power over classes with less power. Soviet leader Vladimir
Lenin explains, The State is an organ of class domination, an organ of oppression
of one class by another; its aim is the creation of order which legalizes and
perpetuates this oppression by moderating the collisions between the classes.
Laws are thus imposed by the state to quell these disturbances.
Once the revolution of the proletariat has succeeded, the new Marxist Law
(Socialistic Law) will reflect the desires of the working people rather than those of
the bourgeoisie. Law based on the will of the proletariat will create a society that is
less exploitative than that based on capitalist bourgeois law. According to theorist
L.S. Jawitsch, An anti-exploiter tendency is what characterizes the special features
of all the principles of the law of socialist society in most concentrated form.
The will of the proletariat becomes the basis for all rights, laws, and judgments,
thereby negating natural law, God, or any absolute moral code. Marxist philosopher

Howard Selsam explains, Marxism, which has been so often accused of seeking to
eliminate moral considerations from human life and history emphasizes rather the
moral issues involved in every situation. It does so, however, not by standing on a
false platform of absolute right, but by identifying itself with the real needs and
interests of the workers and farmers.
Marxists see law based on the will of the proletariat as flexible rather than
inconsistent, a flexibility that denies a need for a comprehensive legal system. E.B.
Pashukanis writes, We require that our legislation possess maximum elasticity. We
cannot fetter ourselves by any sort of system.

Marxist Law- Law Withers Away


Marxists believe law arises from class conflicts caused by property; the need for law
itself will dissolve once a communist society is established. Since only one class (the
proletariat) will then exist, the need to promote order between classes will no longer
remainin effect law will have become unnecessary.
In the highest stage of communist society, after the subordination to the division of
labor, which makes man a slave, shall have disappeared, and therewith the contrast
between intellectual labor and physical labor; when labor shall have ceased to be
merely a means of sustaining life and shall have itself become the first demand of
life; when the comprehensive development of individuals shall have been
accompanied by a growth of the production forces also and the springs of social
wealth shall pour forth a full flowonly then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois
law be completely overcome, and only then will society inscribe on its banner; each
according to his capacities, and to each according to his needs.
Communist society is the highest phase of the development of human society.
Increased production forces create such an abundance of products as permits the
complete assurance of all the requirements of all the members of society. Class
disappearances finally disappear. Marxists believe that when classes are abolished,
all people will create and live in an environment that promotes harmony. Criminal
activity will be almost nonexistent since the catalysts for anti-social activity
injustice and inequalitywill no longer exist. Plamenatz says that in a communist
society crime will be virtually unknown because motives will be less urgent and
frequent, and the offender will be more easily brought to his senses by the need to
regain the good opinion of his neighbors.

The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto was one of the important documents that Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels published. He became well known because of this work. In this
document, Marx states that the law of Bourgeois was only a mere reflection of the
greed of that class. He said that [Y]our jurisprudence is but the will of your class
made into a law for all, a will, whose essential character and direction are
determined by the economic conditions of existence of your class. He was critical
with the Bourgeois Law which he believes was very oppressive as it was based on
the privatization of property. The nature of the law itself was for the promotion of
unequal rights.
A will, whose essential character and direction are determined by the
economic conditions of existence of your class The selfish misconception
that induces you to transform into eternal laws of nature and of reason, the
social forms springing from your present mode of production and form of
propertythis misconception you share with every ruling class that has
preceded you.

The law being favorable to one class, specifically the capitalists, led to the
development of a Capitalist Society in which the society itself is more accountable
for the lawlessness, rather than the individual citizens. According to Engels The
contempt for the existing social order is most conspicuous in its extreme form -that of offences against the law. In other words, those who commit crimes do not
feel any sense of remorse for their actions because they feel as though they have
no other choice but to revolt. The solution, according to Marx and Engels, is to allow
the working class to make the laws. In order to achieve such an objective, the
proletarians are justified in breaking capitalistic law because they are acting in order
to achieve equality.

Conclusion
In conclusion, Karl Marx believes that law originated from conflict between the
Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat; that the State, ostensibly to promulgate and
enforce laws, become the promoter of conflict between the two major social classes;
and in order to achieve the Socialist-Communist society, the Proletariat must initiate
a violent revolution in order to shift the balance of power from the minority
Bourgeoisie to the majority Proletariat, and that once it is achieved, the new
Communist society will promulgate laws based on the will of the Proletariat, and at
the zenith of its existence, the use of law itself will be dispensed of since there will
be no more class divisions and people at that point will live in total peace, harmony
and equality, free from any form of criminality.

REFERENCES:
http://www.allaboutworldview.org/marxist-law.htm
http://www.marktolentinolaw.com/legal-blog/marxist-jurisprudence
http://www.younglaw.net/articlesmarx/law.pdf