Social Courts in Theory and Practice: Yugoslav Workers' Courts in Comparative Perspective

By Robert M. Hayden | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Conclusions: The Courts of Associated Labor in Comparative Perspective

A Summary Analysis of the CALs: The Contradictions of Socialist Legal Theory and Practice

The Divergence of Practice and Theory

There is a certain irony to the political debate recounted in the previous chapter, in that the proponents of the "reform" of the CALs were actually correct in terms of the theoretical paradigm of selfmanagement. The CALs had clearly diverged from the ideals of workers' courts as institutions in which workers discussed labor issues informally and in terms of workers' norms: they were controlled by legal professionals rather than workers and dealt with cases largely in terms of the formal law rather than through any self-management norms. Yet the critics were also correct in their arguments about kadi justice. Few workers would be likely to go voluntarily to the CALs if the courts were to be reformed, since complaining about working conditions to the management of the work organization within the confines of the work place would not likely be a profitable exercise.

Thus the debate over the CALs actually revealed an inconsistency between the theory of self-management law and the likely behavior of workers themselves. Put most succinctly, the contradiction is as follows: to be true self-management courts, the CALs would have to be staffed by workers and meet in the work place. Yet if they were structured in this way, they would not be able to attract the voluntary submission of cases by individual workers. A form of Catch-22: to be true workers' courts, the CALs would have to be structured in such a way that few workers would want to use them.

-135-

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