Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law
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Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law

Edited by Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell

Events such as the global financial crisis have helped reveal that the drivers and contours of governance on a national and international level remain a mystery in many respects. Set in this context, this timely Research Handbook is the first to explicitly address the constitutive relationship between law and political economy. With scholarly contributions from diverse disciplinary and geographic backgrounds, this authoritative book covers, in three parts, topics surrounding money and markets, the relations of organization, and commodities, land and resources.
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Chapter 11: The law of value and the law

Bill Bowring


This chapter explores and evaluates a number of attempts within the Marxist tradition to characterize the legal form under Capital, at the level of the internal workings of the state and relations between states. The question here is: what can lawyers, and more particularly theorists of law, continue to learn from Karl Marx? And, learning from Karl Marx also means, I will argue, to learn from Baruch Spinoza. It turns out that a law in the sense of Marx’s Law of Value is precisely a law of the kind that was central to Spinoza’s thought. This leads to a new understanding of the state and indeed of law. I start with an account of the genesis and nature of law in history, drawing on the historical materialist analysis of Kees van der Pijl. This is important because law, exploitation, class struggle and the trade in commodities go right back to the beginning of recorded history, and are in no way specific to the rule of Capital, or capitalism. The chapter then turns to analyze which of Marx’s central concepts and categories speak to us still, drawing particularly upon the work of Mark Neocleous, who tackled (in the name of the centrality of Marx’s concept of accumulation) a number of recent Marxian reflections on international law.

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