This chapter recuperates Marx’s concept of dictatorship for the purpose of analysing the current crisis of liberal constitutionalism. By drawing on his political writings between 1848 and 1871, it argues that Marx’s analysis of law and politics offers a means of understanding the current crisis beyond the existing frameworks of ‘populism’ and ‘exception’. The chapter offers three lines of analysis. First, it traces the devaluation of the concept of dictatorship in constitutional and political theory. Second, it reconstructs Marx’s theory of dictatorship through a close reading of ‘Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850’, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’, and ‘The Civil War in France’. Finally, it argues that disruptions in constitutional arrangements signify deeper economic and political divisions that need to be considered by legal scholars when discussing the contemporary turn toward political authoritarianism.
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