Edited by Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell
Chapter 27: Early Soviet property law in comparison with Western legal traditions
For legal scholars committed to articulating a system of social order founded on equitable distribution of material resources, an understanding of ‘property’ as a legal form and an ideological construct seems foundational. Yet despite volumes of literature on liberal property ‘theory,’analysis of ‘illiberal’ property regimes remains sparse. Specifically, there has been remarkably little scholarship on the theoretical underpinnings of socialist property law, particularly in the crucial moment of transition to socialism and in the realm of personal property (versus private property rights over the means of production). A critical re-examination of early Soviet property law regimes remains necessary not only because of the persistence of socialist legal systems, but more importantly, because it has the potential to unlock a range of critical lines of inquiry into the nature, function and limits of property law as an ostensibly autonomous system of rules governing particular types of social relations (property relations). This chapter is a preliminary attempt to reconstruct how early Soviet jurists understood property, particularly against the backdrop of Soviet critiques of legal formalism, and to explore ways in which early Soviet critiques relate to ongoing theoretical debates regarding the nature of property in Anglophone jurisprudence.
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