Law and Liberation

Law and Liberation

Law and Liberation

Law and Liberation

Excerpt

I owe to the teaching of Gustavo Gutierrez the basic structure and approach that I have used in this book. I was fortunate enough to read his A Theology of Liberation when I was becoming aware of serious weaknesses in the social and historical components of my legal thinking. He spoke powerfully to my concerns, and I set out to incorporate his insights into my work. This is a preliminary result. It is devoted mainly to constructing legal agendas for liberating American society from some of its particular burdens. I have not attempted a systematic presentation of theory. It is good liberationist doctrine (good common law doctrine as well) that theory should grow out of a critical reflection on practice. I have allowed it to do so: I hope to try a more systematic approach another time.

If what I have done here seems somewhat afield from what generally passes for liberation theology, it is because I am building on Gutierrez's doctrines, not expounding them. The work remains one of jurisprudence, not one of theology.

Nor is it a political work. By and large, I have disregarded the obstacles to getting my proposals enacted into law. By and large also, I have limited myself to agendas within the general framework of the Anglo-American legal system. I have not addressed the possibility that more radical agendas are required.

The orthodoxy of some liberationist writers has been questioned, apparently because of their emphasis on class struggle. Granted, the advocacy of class struggle seems inconsistent with a Christian understanding of universal love. But mainstream liberationists as I understand them do not advocate class struggle any more than people with umbrellas advocate rain. Nor do they perceive class struggle in Marxist terms as something that one class must . . .

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