Soviet Legal Theory: Its Social Background and Development

Soviet Legal Theory: Its Social Background and Development

Soviet Legal Theory: Its Social Background and Development

Soviet Legal Theory: Its Social Background and Development

Excerpt

This book deals with Soviet conceptions of Law. As is natural in a country where Law is regarded as an expression of social conditions and social needs, those conceptions are sociological rather than legal, i.e. they deal with Law not as an isolated system of values and norms but as an agent in social life. Some of the concepts that we are to discuss in this book are in fact what are commonly called "legal theories", that is to say, theories evolved by lawyers for the purposes of the Law. The greater part have been elaborated not by lawyers but by politicians, sociologists and economists; some have even been evolved with the intention of demonstrating the alleged obsolescence of Law in a society of the Soviet type. Some -- perhaps the most important -- have not been elaborated explicitly at all, but are implied in the actual working of Soviet legislation.

Under such circumstances the title of the book may be regarded only as an approximately accurate indication of its contents. But it was the best available. "Soviet conceptions of Law" would have been open to even more serious misunderstanding because of the widespread confusion between Law on the one hand, and Justice and Morals on the other. It might also have raised expectations of a detailed treatment of the concrete contents of the Soviet legal system which cannot be satisfied in this book. I have tried to deal with the evolution of the fundamental concepts of Soviet Law within the framework of the general evolution of Soviet society. Thus I have written a sociological and economic rather than a legal book. Such an approach may be right or wrong, according to the philosophy of Law that may be accepted; but it is an approach which would seem natural to the people about whom I write. The study of revolutionary Russia can make the maximum contribution to science and social reconstruction in other countries only if it starts from Russian rather than from imported, Procrustean standards.

I am not sufficiently a philologist to aspire to make a contribution to highly controversial subjects like the correct transcription of Russian words, or even the translation of the technical terms of one legal system into those of another, completely different in its structure. My aim has been to make the meaning intelligible . . .

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