Justice in Russia: An Interpretation of Soviet Law

Justice in Russia: An Interpretation of Soviet Law

Justice in Russia: An Interpretation of Soviet Law

Justice in Russia: An Interpretation of Soviet Law

Excerpt

We would like not to have to think so much about Soviet Russia. If it were not for Soviet Russia perhaps we would not have to think so much at all. We might settle back more or less complacently and cultivate our own garden.

We are forced to think about the Russians because of the power struggle going on in the world today. They appear to us primarily as a problem of foreign policy. Yet it is impossible to develop a sound foreign policy toward Soviet Russia on the basis of international politics alone; we cannot estimate what she wants in the world merely from our contacts with her in Germany, Yugoslavia, Iran, China, and other places outside her borders. To understand Soviet aims and methods abroad we are compelled also to concern ourselves with Soviet aims and methods at home. We must be in a position to evaluate the strength and weakness of the Soviet system, and the beliefs and values on which it is founded.

Here law occupies a position of crucial significance, for a legal system expresses in a most vivid and real way what a society stands for. It represents both what is preached and what is practised. It tells what is officially and publicly considered to be right, and what is officially and publicly done when things go wrong. Of course, what is officially and publicly considered and done may conflict with what is unofficially and secretly considered and done. It is surprising, however, how much we can learn from Soviet codes and statutes and reports of cases, as well as from the extensive commentaries and criticisms in Soviet legal periodicals and treatises, about how the system actually works.

From a purely political viewpoint, then, the study of Soviet law has become a matter of urgent practical importance. Certainly we cannot make an enduring peace with Russia, or even a temporary settlement, without some understanding of her legal system--her . . .

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