Chapter 1: Introduction to the Research Handbook on Law and Marxism
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This introduction underscores the richness of the Marxist tradition for informing critical en-gagement with law, rights, and the state. It is often said that Marx never developed an integrated theory of the state, and that his observations about law and rights are fragmentary and scattered. Such assessments are not unjustified; Marx’s work, published and unpublished, offers no general theory of these topics on par with his critique of classical political economy. Yet Marx engaged closely with questions of law, rights, and the state, and he did so frequently, intensively, and with remarkable acuity. Many attempts have been made to develop specifically Marxist ac-counts of law on the basis of these and other textual sources, from Evgeny Pashukanis’ ‘commodity-form theory’ to debates about the ‘relative autonomy’ of law and beyond. Such approaches continue to influence a large number of contemporary debates, and they are indispen-sable to understanding the role of law, rights, and the state in capitalist societies.

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