Marxism, International Law and Political Strategy
Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 22, p. 413, 2009
24 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2011 Last revised: 23 Dec 2012
Date Written: July 29, 2009
The question of international law’s role in progressive politics has become increasingly important. This is reflected in an upsurge in scholarship dealing with international law’s relationship to imperial power and its progressive potential. There has also seen an increase in the number of Marxist accounts of international law, with China Miéville’s Between Equal Rights being particularly important. Miéville’s book is very pessimistic as to the progressive potential of international law. This article contests his claims by examining Miéville’s accounts of legal subjectivity, violence and indeterminacy and argues that international law’s content is open to progressive appropriations. However, the ‘form’ of international law limits its ability to criticise systemic or structural problems, so international law has very little transformative potential. A progressive politics of international law must therefore take advantage of content without falling foul of form. The article finally inquires whether in some extraordinary situations international law might be transformative.
Keywords: international law, Marxism, commodity, imperialism
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