Socialism’s Legacy in Contemporary Law and Legal Scholarship: The Case of Hungary
Journal of East European Law (Columbia University), Vol. 2004, Nos. 2-3. pp. 95-122, 2004
17 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Nov 2011
Date Written: August 28, 2007
This article considers the legacy of socialism in Hungarian law and legal scholarship. The most important elements of this legacy are: 1. the literal approach of interpretation; 2. the non-recognition of human rights as positive constitutional rights, and their referral exclusively into the realm of natural law; 3. the concept of the supreme body of state power; 4. state administration as synonymous with administration; 5. the independence of family law; and finally 6. the doctrine of social dangerousness.
This legacy is partially motivated by the original ideas of Marxism (for example, the independence of family law), but is also, in part, a result of the dictatorial nature of socialism (for example, the prohibition of teleological interpretation). Such traces, in one form or another, can be found in almost all of the formerly socialist states of Europe. Their discovery is, accordingly, relevant not only for Hungary, but also for other Eastern European countries. Furthermore, the revelation of the continued effect of socialist legal inheritance on current, post-socialist law not only satisfies scholarly interest, but also has practical relevance by calling the attention of today’s legislators to the manner in which socialist thought processes and legal views - sometimes - unconsciously continue to influence legal thinking and sometimes even the outcome of cases.
Keywords: legal theory, socialism, Hungary
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation