On the Limits of Political Emancipation and Legal Rights

Posted: 24 Feb 2020

See all articles by Peter D. Burdon

Peter D. Burdon

University of Adelaide - School of Law

Date Written: February 21, 2020


In this paper I offer a new interpretation of Marx’s essay On the Jewish Question (OJQ) which re-states its key ideas but removes unnecessary debates that are not relevant to current political and legal problems. Because OJQ is a demonstration of critique it does not offer positive proscriptions or suggestions for change. Its utility, I argue, lies in the way it can help us think about the limits of resolving deeply entrenched power-relations without a thoroughgoing engaging of how those powers are created and enacted in civil society. With this in mind I read OJQ alongside the recent campaign to legislate for marriage equality in Australia and the movement to recognise environmental human rights. While both movements might ameliorate instances of discrimination and harm, I argue that they cannot resolve those powers that limit certain kinds of access or render people and things subordinate to other interests.

Keywords: Marx, Law, Political emancipation, Legal rights, Environmental human rights, Marriage equality, Liberation, On the Jewish Question

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Burdon, Peter D., On the Limits of Political Emancipation and Legal Rights (February 21, 2020). U. of Adelaide Law Research Paper No. 2020-23, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3542032

Peter D. Burdon (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005

HOME PAGE: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/peter.d.burdon

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics