Settling Disputes in Soviet Society: The Formative Years of Legal Institutions

Settling Disputes in Soviet Society: The Formative Years of Legal Institutions

Settling Disputes in Soviet Society: The Formative Years of Legal Institutions

Settling Disputes in Soviet Society: The Formative Years of Legal Institutions

Excerpt

A professional man begins early to consider the part played by his profession in society. The lawyer delves into anthropological materials to study the emergence in primitive communities of institutions with which he is daily concerned in his practice. He examines legal systems in modern states to compare the methods which each has developed to meet problems well known to him in his own jurisdiction.

An increasing number of persons are asking whether the experience of the Russian Revolution can illuminate the role of legal institutions in modern society. Every one knows that the Russian revolutionaries entered upon their task determined to start anew with social organization. They were vociferous in their denial of advantages to be found in courts as they had known them in the past. They promised to show the world how a system for settling disputes could be made simple, and some of them wrote with the expectation that even their simple "court" would eventually become unnecessary as society moved toward the goal of communism. Formalities, legal procedure, representation by lawyers, and technical language: all of these elements of courts as they had been known in the Empire were to be abolished.

It is the purpose of this volume to test with Soviet data the thesis that modern man can settle his disputes with simplicity, without elaborately organized tribunals, without legal representation, without complicated laws, and without a labyrinth of rules of procedure and evidence. No society offers the perfect testing ground because extraneous factors enter to influence its development. Soviet society is no exception. Its evolution has not occurred on the basis of pure reason in a completely new environment. Civil war, world war . . .

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