Getting the Constitutive Power of Law Wrong — Liam McHugh-Russell

Legal scholars say "these words have a legal definition" and take that as proof positive that their meaning and significance is legal--that is, legal all the way down. We cannot understand how "capital" or "profit" work as part of the apparatus that orders our economic life without attending to how they are used in legal texts, and by legal institutions and legal actors. Granted. But it is a grave error to think that the existence of legal usages nullifies the existence of other meanings; even more grave to think that a legal definition might exhaust the social significance of those concepts.

Constitutionalism Against Revolution — Rafael Khachaturian

The relationship between constituent power and political founding is one of the most intricate problems in contemporary political theory. Simply put, it is the question of the basis on which we can consider a given political and legal order to be legitimate. In its most general form, the paradox is that an existing constitutional order cannot justify its own origins, since the space of legality that it enacts only becomes possible after the fact of an extra-legal founding moment.

Revolutionary Jurisprudence — Tormod Otter Johansen

This post will consist of some very preliminary thoughts, amounting to the first steps in a larger project. I begin by discussing three questions central to the theme of revolutionary jurisprudence. I then sketch three socialist or revolutionary strategies that have traditionally been adopted in relation to the question of law, and I draw out the implicit concepts of law that unite these strategies. I subsequently attempt to sketch a fourth strategy that is capable of being reconstructed from the work of Giorgio Agamben. Finally, I provide an example of a revolutionary jurisprudential action that follows from this fourth strategy.

Crises of Constitutionality — Rob Hunter

A certain homology may be observed between the constitutive role of crisis in capitalism and the place of crisis within the practice of constitutionality. Indeed, the state of crisis is a regular, recurring, and unavoidable aspect of constitutionalism. Mainstream discourses of constitutional crisis tend to imagine that constitutional orders possess social teloi that they pursue smoothly on their own terms. But constitutionalism is not a homeostatic social machine; it is a technology of rule.

Introduction to the Material Constitution: Traditions and Constitutive Elements — Marco Goldoni

In a couple of previous posts on Legal Form, Rob Hunter has reminded us of the importance and aptness of a Marxist approach to the analysis of public law. Hunter's intervention could not be more timely: even after the economic and financial crisis, and despite the comeback of Marxism as a relevant intellectual source at least within certain legal domains (think, for example, of international law), there has not yet been a Marxist revival in constitutional studies.

Review of Sidney L. Harring, Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865–1915, second edition (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017) (Part Three) — Stuart Schrader

Harring seems to believe that race is an immutable property that precedes racism. Yet on my reading, much of what he considered class identification and the process of class management, to use Monkkonen's term, was racial. I would reverse the dictum Stuart Hall first developed in Policing the Crisis: in the historical situation of policing a class society 140 years ago, class was the medium through which race was lived.

Review of Sidney L. Harring, Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865–1915, second edition (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017) (Part Two) — Stuart Schrader

The class struggle approach insisted that the police, even when breaking strikes, were constrained. A key constraint was the delicate balance of state legitimacy. Too much force, and it would be imperiled among workers. Too little, and the same would be true, but among industrialists.

Review of Sidney L. Harring, Policing a Class Society: The Experience of American Cities, 1865–1915, second edition (Chicago: Haymarket, 2017) (Part One) — Stuart Schrader

Sidney L. Harring's Policing a Class Society from 1983 should be considered a classic. A rare avowedly Marxist history of policing in the United States, it offers something many readers crave. Now republished by Haymarket Books, with a stirring new introduction, it raises fundamental critiques of policing in the United States that differ from those driving present-day mobilizations.

Human Rights After October — Jessica Whyte

The language of human rights is under fire on the right and the left. While right-wing authoritarian leaders frame civil rights and anti-discrimination agendas as the exclusive concern of cosmopolitan elites, left-wing critics have argued that the human rights movement has ignored economic inequality and legitimised military interventions that further neoliberal ends.

Marxism and the State: Three Background Notes (Part One) — Akbar Rasulov

In one of the most easily Google-retrievable texts on the Marxist theory of the state (MTS), a 1999 essay written for an edited volume entitled Marxism and Social Science, Colin Hay, a former student of Bob Jessop, remarks that "Marxist state theorists--unlike, say, their feminist counterparts ... --have rarely been called upon to offer … justification for their theoretical endeavours".