Law, Ideology, and Revolutionary Social Change Facilitated Discussion Questions

As our facilitated class discussion was unfortunately cut short last week, we have decided to post the questions for discussion online in hope that this may generate further lass discussion this Friday. Enjoy.

  • Materialist conception of history
    • Understands modern society through an analysis of its mode of production and the changing forms of social divisions.
    • The division of labour develops out of struggles to own and control the ways given societies produce necessities to secure their survival.
      • Can this be applied to the creation and maintenance of Law

      Marx and Engels did note the “duplicitous face” of law: Its repressive coercive functions are obscured by its ideological functions that portray it as equal, universal, and just. What does the class think of this statement?

      Marx and Engels often caution us not to expect law to do much more than reform “surface” issues. Agree/Disagree? Why?
      Can law ever do more than simply replicate the interests of the ruling class? Thoughts?

      FINAL POINTS:

      1. The Granting equal and universal rights within structurally unequal societies often perpetuates, rather than alleviates, the inequalities
      2. The law reflects the common interests of the ruling group and may, on occasion, appear to work against the interests of particular capitalists
      3. The laws repressive coercive functions are obscured by its ideological functions that portray it as equal, universal, and just.
      “… society does not depend on the law. That is a legal fiction. The law depends rather on society, it must be an expression of society’s communal interests and needs, arising from the material mode of production, and not to the arbitrary expression of the world of the single individual. I have here in my hands that Code Napoleon, but it is no the code which created the modern bourgeois society. Instead, it is bourgeois society, as it originated in the 18th century and underwent further development in the 19th century, which finds its merely legal expression in the Code. As soon as the code ceases to correspond to social relations, it is no more than a bundle of paper. (Marx, quoted in Phillips 1980: 187).
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