Chapter 27: Beyond fetishism and instrumentalism: Rethinking Marxism and law under neoliberalism
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This chapter reassesses Marxism’s relationship to law by considering the extent to which law can serve as a vehicle for progressive change in the era of neoliberalism. The chapter opens by exploring the importance that EP Thompson attached to struggles over law and rights, comparing his work with Marx’s reflections on the struggle for a legally limited working day. It explains why Marx and Engels valued legal struggles, even as they welcomed the revolutionary supersession of capitalism. The chapter then considers a specific case: legal efforts to expand the negatively circumscribed right to personal security to include a positive right to housing in Canada. While transformative change is sought through political mobilisation and contestation, law offers a medium through which oppressed classes can resist encroachments by states and multinational corporations while advancing a democratic-socialist alternative to financialised capitalism in keeping with the Marxist quest for human emancipation.

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