This chapter offers a preliminary Marxist critique of Douglass North’s views on the relationship between law and development in postcolonial states. North’s views are important as they have become part of the ‘common sense’ of the contemporary age, especially as they inform many of the law-and-development initiatives of international financial institutions like the World Bank. The chapter argues that North does not appreciate sufficiently the nature and workings of capitalism. Above all, he does not consider the effects of imperialism on the development prospects of postcolonial states. On the other hand, the chapter contends that North’s work helps to highlight the unfortunate neglect by left parties and movements of the important role of law and legal institutions in resisting or reforming the capitalist order in postcolonial states.
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