Contradictions, law, and state socialism

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The relationship of law to antagonisms and contradictions within state socialism is explored from a Weberian and a Marxian perspective. Examining legislation, court decision making, legal control of economic behavior, and law enforcement reveals contradictions between (1) a radical participatory ideology versus muted or extinct civil society; (2) the ideology of comprehensive planning versus the impotence of law; (3) strategies aiming at total control of public life versus the emergence of a niche society outside the reach of the state; (4) regulatory norms versus the functional necessity of norm-breaking behavior; (5) reliance on a revolutionary sense of justice versus the cultivation of "doublethought"; (6) a program of total control of economic behavior versus the emergence of deviant, even criminal, forms of organization to fulfill functionally necessary but ideologically unapproved economic tasks; and finally, (7) two distinct practices of law, responsive or postliberal versus repressive. Yet, contradictions typically did not lead through conflict to subsequent reform during the state socialist era, as conflicts were repressed. When reforms were attempted, they furthered conflict and system breakdown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1048
Number of pages28
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

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