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MarxistsShrirang Ashtaputre

(Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad)

“Law, Morality, Religion are to (the proletariat) so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.” –

Karl Marx

Marxism is basically a social, political and economic theory which states that history is constantly evolving towards a certain direction and that the proletariat is the executioner, the redemptive force of the humanityi. Marx claimed to have henceforth, discovered a progressive patter which controls the pattern of human evolution which would lead to achieving his goal of a classless society, sooner or later. And so he defined state and its laws as instruments of class oppressions, wherein, the bourgeois made the laws for the state and continued yielding power, thus, completely ignoring the needs and demands of the working class proletariat people who actually constituted a majority in the state and dominated and oppressed them by imposing heavy taxes on them and not even granting them simple rights and he further said that all of this would disappear when the final stage of human evolution is achieved.

Marxists basically believe that law and human rights basically arises from the interactions of human beings with social structure that contains economic class distinction. This makes it very evident that law is made and given by man to his society and that GOD has nothing to nothing with the law making. Marxists are henceforth, atheists and thus state that GOD cannot, does not and should not exists, which is, a very important assumption of this theory. Infact, L.S. Jawitchs, a Marxists states that “There are no eternal, immutable principles of law”ii. Thus, the Marxists law is only based on human rationality. So, law basically comes to resolve the conflicts which arise due to the class divisions within the society which is the cause for disorder in the society. But, the state and hence its laws are all made and controlled by the Bourgeois, who are lesser in number but more powerful fore they have more wealth, which they use as a tool, to not only run state as they wish but also oppress the working class people and exploit them accordingly. This clearly implies that the capitalistic policies cannot create equal rights for one and all mainly because of the economic system which creates haves and have-nots. And so Cornforth states “There cannot be equality between the exploited and exploiters and exploited” iii. The richer continues to become rich and the poor continues to become even more poor, due to such capitalistic policies (laws) and such control over the state and hence, Marxists call for elimination of Bourgeois rule and instead, placing the proletariat as the rulers of the state who would then, make the laws for the state, promoting their interests thereby as they not only constitute the majority in the state but also, are the backbone of the same, is what they believe. And hence, according to the Marxists legal theory the working class may break capitalistic law, is such an action is in pursuit of equality. Lenin even goes on to say that:

“The revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat is won and maintained by the use of violence by the proletariat against the Bourgeois, rule, that is unrestricted by any laws” iv .

And now that the proletariats take power in the state, the new Marxists Law or to say, the Socialistic Law will directly reflect the desires of only the working class people. Marxists believe that this new society would be more flexible and consistent and would be less exploitive in nature. The will of the proletariat thus, becomes the basis for all the rights, laws and judgments thus, completely going against the principles of natural or God-given laws. Selsem explains this in the truest sense, thus stating that “Marxism, which has so often be accused of seeking to eliminate moral considerations from human life and history emphasizes rather the moral issues involved in every situation. It does so, however, not by standing on a false platform of absolute right, but by identifying itself with the real needs and interests of the workers and farmers.”v . The second assumption of this theory is that humans are evolving animals and with them evolves their laws. Marx believed that a regular pattern of evolution controlled the human condition which would also lead to a perfect, classless society of individuals, further stating that the destiny of humankind lied in a lawless communism and therefore, law according to him and his dear followers was interpreted as not encompassing any human values or principles, but rather, representing a transitional device which merely illustrates “the course of the political struggle and the evolution of social formations”vi. In Marxist Theory, David and Brieley explain that:

“Law is a superstructure; in reality, it only translates the interests of those who hold the reins of command in any given society; it is an instrument in the service of those who exercise their ‘dictatorship’ in the society because they have the instruments of production within their control. Law is a means of exploiting the exploited classes; it is; of necessity, unjust-or in other words, it is only just from the subject point of view from the ruling class. To speak of a ‘just’ law is to appeal to an ideology-that is to say, a false representation of reality; justice is no more than an historical idea contained by circumstances of class.” vii

Marxists believe that once the proletariats take control, there would be an evolution yet again, moving from imperialism or capitalism to communism is what, is an evolution, according to them. Now that they become the new rulers of the state, there would be an end to class based conflicts as then, proletariats would be the one and only class present in that particular state. And an end to class based conflicts would mean that law would become unnecessary in the state, for Marxists believe that law exists only to resolve class based conflicts; hence, law withers away. End to class based conflicts would also mean that all the people of that state would live together in harmony and promote the same. Criminal activities would completely come to an end in such a society where everyone is respected and everyone is cared for equally and that all the elements which would cause injustice and inequality would cease to exist in this new state. However, since the Marxists state assumes authoritarian forms and frees itself from the any constitutional checks and balances, “this leaves out of account….very powerful impulses to state action generated from within the state by people in charge of decision making power.” viii


This Marxists Legal Theory hence, tries to state that God cannot exists and it is the humans who make laws for themselves and they govern their own selves. It denies the possibility of an absolute moral code and the existence of any law grounded in any authority other than human authority. Lenin goes on to say that: “In what sense do we repudiate ethics and morality?….In the sense in which it was preached by the bourgeoisie, who derived from God’s commandments. We, of course, say that we do not believe in GOD.”ix. Also, humans are constantly evolving and will continue to do the same in future. They would have said to have been completely evolved, only when they achieve a lawless communist society with a lawless communist state. Laws won’t be required anymore, once a perfect communist state is established, mainly due to the end of class-based conflicts for then, there would exists no class in the state for if any exists, it would be only one, the proletariats. Thus, this theory tries stating that the working class must rule under the Marxist-Leninist Political party, giving the final authority on morality and law.

But, a society without laws is something which one cannot imagine or else, there would be total chaos in the state, for law exists not only to resolve the class-based disputes but, as stated by Glanville Williams “Law is the cement of society and also an essential medium of change. Knowledge of law increases one’s understanding of public affairs. Its study promotes accuracy of expression, facility in argument and skill in interpreting the written word, as well as some understanding of social values” which clearly indicates that there are various other factors which state why law must exists in a state. Besides, to achieve a perfectly classes society is very difficult as class is not the only way any which people distinguish each other but factors like race, color and most importantly religious classification and other such factors are something which also exists and are needed to be considered aswell. So, applying the Marxists legal theory would mean going against the modern day principles of radical feminism and even race legal theory apart from promoting judicial parity and political arbitrariness, which is unacceptable in today’s world. Besides, anti-capitalistic policies are unacceptable today as it opens more job opportunities and helps the nation earn more money and use it for its development, leading to socio-economic progress of not only the state but also of its citizens-thus leading to human development in its own sense.

Hence, according to this new state, laws made would be prejudiced in nature and in its society; freedom disappears as each and every citizen of the state is a citizen no more, but, subjects to be dealt by the state, who are held hostages by the arbitrary laws of the state.
i Cited in Johnson, P., The Intellectuals, Harper Perennial, New York, p. 55, 1988.
ii L.S. Jawitsch, The General Theory of Law (Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1981), 160.
iii Maurice Cornforth, The Open Philosophy and the Open Society (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1976), 290.
iv V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, 45 vols. (Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1981), 28:236.
v Howard Selsam, Socialism and Ethics (New York, NY: International Publishers, 1943), 13.
vi Collins, H., Marxism and Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 9, 1988.
vii David, R. and Brierley, J., Major Legal Systems in the World Today: An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Law Stevens & Sons, London, p. 171, 1985.
viii Kelly, ref. 22, p. 330.
ix V.I. Lenin, On Socialist Ideology and Culture (Moscow, USSR: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1981), 51–2.

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