The Left and the Question of Law

Posted: 12 Apr 2004

See all articles by David Dyzenhaus

David Dyzenhaus

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law/Department of Philosophy

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This article examines the work of Martin Loughlin, a prominent public lawyer who works in the left-wing tradition of political and legal theory, often associated with the London School of Economics and Political Science. It argues that tensions in Loughlin's work exemplify certain trends within the left, the result of the left having lost faith in its positive political program, one which was supposed to be delivered by Parliament. What remains once this faith is lost is a traditional hostility to liberalism and judicial review in combination with a sense that the realm of politics - the political - is valuable. This combination explains the turn taken by certain left-wing theorists to Carl Schmitt's authoritarian understanding of politics and to a kind of romanticism about tradition. Given the risks inherent in this turn, it would be better for the left both to return to its roots in a positive program. This move would require the left to engage properly in the contemporary debate about the normativity of law.

Keywords: Social democracy, Martin Loughlin, Carl Schmitt, liberalism

Suggested Citation

Dyzenhaus, David, The Left and the Question of Law. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 7-30, January 2004. Available at SSRN:

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