The Trajectory of Yevgeniy Pashukanis, and the Struggle for Power in Soviet Law
Chapter Four in 'Law, Rights and Ideology in Russia: Landmarks in the Destiny of a Great Power' (Abingdon, Routledge, 2013)
35 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: April 5, 2013
This chapter explores the brief flowering of a specifically Marxist understanding of law during the first decades of the Soviet Union, through the history of its most original exponent, Yevgeniy Pashukanis. Chris Arthur has described Pashukanis’ “important contribution to the materialist critique of legal forms” as “to this day the most significant Marxist work on the subject”. I do not disagree. However, a recently published textbook on The history of legal thought in Russia , has no section on Pashukanis as such, although it has a very short section (1 ½ pages) on G. V. Plekhanov (the ‘father of Russian Marxism’, 1857-1918) , as an example of “Russian radicalism of the XIX century”. In this Chapter, I suggest that there is rather more of interest and substance in Pashukanis’ own work; and that the turbulent history of the ideological struggles over law in the early years of Soviet power are a further example of the close intermingling of law and ideology in Russia.
Keywords: Pashukanis, Soviet Law, Soviet Ideology, Marxism
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