The Pashukanis family was of Lithuanian background; he was a cousin of the publisher, Vikentiy Pashukanis. In , he started studying jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg. As a result of his socialist activism, the Czarist police threatened Pashukanis with banishment, so he left Russia for Germany in He continued his studies in Munich.

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It is less well known, however, that Hasnas also argues that anarchy must be achieved gradually. But how can this work? In this paper, I show that directly confronting state power will never produce viable anarchy or minarchy. Using the example of Soviet jurist Evgeny Pashukanis, I detail an episode in apparent anti-statism which, by relying on the state, ended in disaster for the putative anti-statist.

Suehiro also attempted to decrease state power by means of case law, but because he lacked a clear anti-statist teleology he ended up becoming an accomplice of state power, even imperialism. No reasonable anarchist advocates the total dissolution of government tomorrow. Morgan morgan. The author would like to thank Lenore Ealy, Joe Salerno, and Mark Thornton for helpful comments on an early draft of this article. Rummel The modern nation-state, regardless of the ideology upon which its existence is premised, is an enemy of human freedom and a threat to peace and prosperity at home and abroad.

Rockwell Proponents of various political arrangements argue endlessly over which kind of state is the best, but these debates merely obscure the central fact of the state: it is always and everywhere a sovereign outlaw predicated on theft, coercion, and violence.

Rothbard The state, properly considered, is thus seen as the common foe of humanity. Attempts to confront state power directly almost always fail, while those that succeed tend only to produce even bigger state apparatuses.

For example, in the Southern States of the United States effected an orderly and thoroughly lawful separation from the North, but this was met with such overweening violence—including widescale attacks on non-combatants—that the newly-formed Confederate States of America were forced to rejoin the larger state on humiliating terms of surrender.

Cisco Likewise, when law-abiding citizens such as Cliven Bundy and Randy Weaver have attempted to absent themselves from the purview of state power, the state has responded with overwhelming use of force, often lethal. Grigg Anyone who desires freedom is thus presented with a seemingly impossible choice, between submission to the state, which surely ends freedom, and suicidal rebellion, which ends both freedom and life.

How does one respond to the dilemma presented by the state? Is there some way to enhance human freedom within the context of the state while also attenuating state power gradually, with the eventual goal of so diminishing statism that a true Hasnian anarchy becomes possible? I believe there is. In this paper, I argue that the theories of Austrian legal philosopher Eugen Ehrlich point toward the real possibility of greater freedom within a given state and, ultimately, the gentle overthrow of pernicious state power.

However, such a project, although surely worth the attempt, is understandably fraught with peril. States, and statists, are ever mindful of the precariousness of their position, and so are sensitive to even the slightest whisper of rebellion. Not only that, but armed suppression is not the only way that states deal with those who try to carve out non-state spheres for themselves.

Many states, and statists, are as expert at co-opting freedom-loving groups and individuals as they are at killing them or throwing them in prison. Morgan I will detail how this happened in the hopes of guiding other would-be Ehrlichian freedom-partisans safely around this hazard. The demise of the state must be the ultimate goal of any truly human society, but this must be accomplished gradually, dialectically, and stealthily. A subdued anarchy, grounded in Ehrlichian legal pluralism, is the surest method for communities to regain their freedom.

Pashukanis was seemingly protected by political connections to people in high office, but he eventually ran afoul of the state by arguing openly that state power should be curtailed. For his naivete he was executed by, of course, the state. What makes the case of Evgeny Pashukanis especially striking is that, in calling for the end of the state, he was simply repeating what he, and many others, took to be political orthodoxy in that state.

Pashukanis never attempted violent revolution. Engels , , cited in Kelsen , 25 fn. When this happened, Pashukanis said, law would become superfluous. Stalin revised the thinking of Marx, Engels, and Lenin to justify a permanent state with himself at the head.

Stalin was therefore not interested in the withering away of the state, because that would have meant the withering away of Stalin. Pashukanis confronted state power directly, albeit unintentionally, and was killed as a result. Pashukanis came from humble beginnings, but for a time his studies in the law led to a rapid rise in his notoriety and access to state power. Pashukanis studied at the University of St.

Petersburg during World War I, and later became a circuit judge after joining the Bolsheviks in Obshchaia teoriia prava i marksizm, cited in Stuckha , 41, fn. For Pashukanis, it was key that: Marx had begun his analysis of the inner dialectic of the capital-labor relationship the production of surplus value with a critique of the categories of bourgeois political economy. Beirne and Sharlet , 24 The Russian Civil War, though, necessitated a more robust court system for rooting out and punishing so-called enemies of the revolution.

Pashukanis saw this move in the same way Lenin characterized the NEP, i. Beirne and Sharlet , This also necessitated a retreat from the anti-intellectualism of the early Bolshevik turmoil David-Fox While the market bond between individual enterprises either capitalist or socialist remained in force, so also the legal form had to remain in force.

Crime would be as unthinkable as the spontaneous exchange of goods for a profit. The degree of such disunion may be greater or less historically, but it never disappears entirely.

Thus the enterprises belonging to the Soviet state perform one general task in fact; but—working by the methods of the market—each of them has its own isolated interest; they are opposed to each other as buyer and seller, and they act at their own risk and peril—accordingly they must necessarily be in juridic intercourse. The final victory of the planned economy will put them exclusively into an association with each other based on technical expediency and will make an end of their juridic personality Pashukanis , Conversely, authority—as the guarantor of exchange in the market—cannot only be expressed in the terminology of law but itself is represented as law and only law: that is to say, it merges completely with an abstract objective norm.

Pashukanis , For Pashukanis, the law was a fundamentally bourgeois concept and could not be reformed. As the state inevitably disappeared, the law, too, would just as inevitably disappear along with it.

Textbooks on Civil Law likewise were replaced by textbooks entitled Economic Law. Mises Among different people, many will be interested in free trade and peaceful cooperation. Some will be comparatively hostile to fruitful interaction, but will do the bare minimum necessary to get by. Given human nature, a few will lie, cheat, steal, and even kill in order to advance their individual ambition. It is against such people that societies have always arranged some system of self-defense.

Pashukanis imagined a socialist society free of individual aggression because, by a process of the denaturalization of mankind as a class partisan, free of juridical and economic individuals per se.

But what Pashukanis got instead was Josef Stalin. The emerging Soviet state was hijacked by one man bent on converting the state apparatus into the machinery for effecting his personal designs, including revenge on enemies and former allies. Even more ominously, Stalin was announcing his personal identification with the state.

In retrospect it is obvious why Stalin could not dispense with the machinery of the law and the state—he needed the courts as a stage for the show trials that would later clear away the last of his rivals among the Old Bolsheviks, principally Bukharin himself. Capitalists are endowed with public power, power which no formal institutions can overcome. People may have political rights, and governments may pursue popular mandates. But the effective capacity of any government to attain whatever are its goals is circumscribed by the public power of capital.

The nature of political forces that come into office does not alter these limits, it is claimed, for they are structural—a characteristic of the system, not of the occupants of governmental positions nor of the winners of elections. As such, the state, Stalin argued, was indispensable, both for carrying forward the revolution domestically, and for protecting it from enemies closing in from abroad. Hazard , xxix The handwriting on the wall was unmistakably clear.

All was for naught. The sentence was carried out by firing squad just a half hour after it was read into the record Vaksberg , — But it should also be remembered that Pashukanis had also benefitted greatly from statism. The fruit of this development was an especially grotesque species of political justice. Legal forms were co-opted for extra-legal purposes, judicial process was subordinated to political ends, and law itself was used to legitimize and rationalize terror.

The jurisprudence of terror institutionalized and routinized political terror within the context of formal legalism. Tucker , cited in Bellingham , endnote 22 Pashukanis must have known this. It is essential that the state be overcome so that those who would cartelize under the statist banner be denied a platform for their plans, but it is also equally essential that the state be done away with by slow degrees, and not all at once and certainly not by marrying a putatively anti-state ideology to state power.

I therefore propose that communities engage with the state dialectically, weakening and transforming the state incrementally over time. The best way to do this is through case law. A legal-pluralist caselaw system, coupled with jury trials, is the surest path toward the downfall of the state. Stalin and the Bolsheviks acted with acute ruthlessness against Pashukanis.

However, virtually any other state would also have taken steps to eliminate someone who actively challenged state authority, even abstractly. Virtually any contemporary state would do likewise, as the examples of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange amply attest.

In light of these realities, let us turn to another legal thinker whose work offers some hope that the state may, perhaps, be challenged, and eventually defeated, incrementally, stealthily, and with low risk for the challengers. Austrian legal philosopher Eugen Ehrlich — offers a model for how such a project might unfold.

Disillusioned with state power for a variety of reasons both personal and intellectual, Ehrlich sought the legitimacy of the law in something other than the reigning corporatist-positivist state. Specifically, Ehrlich conducted extensive research in community custom, which he saw as a way to reform Austrian law by means of insisting on the validity of legal pluralism within the existing Civil Code jurisprudential system.

For many thinkers in the German tradition, the state and its laws were seen as forming an unassailable edifice not open to reform. Most theorists admitted of a working identity between law and the state.

Ehrlich, on the other hand, argued that the state and the law are not the same. In many ways, they are at odds with one another, if not opposites.

German experience itself tends to prove this. For Ehrlich, the application of the law involved, not the robotic matching of real-life happenings to an ethereal and abstracted Civil Code, but, rather, a great deal of human agency floating clear of the legal realm and drawing on norms better understood by the new discipline of sociology.

Rottleuthner , 5 Gemeinschaft, in other words, was not an ideal imposed from above by the Gesellschaftlich corporatist state, but a process of messy discovery taking place in actual lived society far removed from state control.

Unlike his predecessors, Ehrlich was almost indifferent toward the existence of the state within the framework of actually-existing legal practice. Like Fuchs, he too emphasized the creative role, the personal moment, in the application of law.

However, by this he did not intend that the private intuition of the judge be set free. Rather this is the point where his specific understanding of legal sociology came into play: when the law permits no orientation, the application of law should orient itself on social norms, on the norms of the law which was actually alive in society. In his legal sociology, Ehrlich stressed precisely the central role of society—as the totality of human associations—for the emergence and development of law.

Legislation, jurisprudence, and judicial decision-making, by contrast, were considered secondary phenomena.


Evgeny Pasukanis

This small book, first published in , has now been translated into several Western and Eastern languages, but the English translation of the first edition appears for the first time below. When General Theory first appeared it is doubtful that anyone, least of an Pashukanis himself, could have foreseen its immediate success and the meteoric rise of its author within Marxist legal philosophy and the Soviet legal profession. Pashukanis was merely one of a dozen authors in the Soviet Union to publish on the Marxist theory of law and state during the years to In fact, he was one of the less well-known authors whose works appeared during this early flowering of Soviet legal philosophy. It was a crowded and distinguished field which included the Marxist philosopher Adoratsky; the pupil of Petrazhitsky, M. Few other authors in this period had their books reprinted, let alone issued in a new edition. No one was more forthcoming in his praise of the young Pashukanis than Stuchka.


The Journal of Libertarian Studies



Evgeni Pachukanis



The General Theory of Law and Marxism


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