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The Legal Metaphor in Marxism-Leninism: A Comment on Some Questions Raised in Professor G. Codevilla's Article

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The following remarks are written by a political theorist who makes no claim to expert knowledge in the field of socialist jurisprudence or legal philosophy. They are prompted, however, by the attempt of a Professor of Socialist Law to answer certain questions of political and ideological history?and indeed, indirectly, of political theory?by reference to a comparative historical study of socialist legal systems. For Professor Codevilla poses the question of the origin of the "Soviet conception of freedom", proposing to contribute to an answer by an analysis made "from a legal point of view". But, more ambitiously still, he then argues that having dealt with this question "we shall be in a position to answer a related question, that of whether or not there is a possibility of a radical change in the Marxist-Leninist conception of human rights within the Soviet Union, with a consequent shift towards democratization". It is, in my opinion, extremely doubtful whether such a question could even in principle be answered on the basis of the kind of conceptual history undertaken by the author. Be that as it may, he does in any case explicitly take up, in his paper, problems which fall within the scope of activity of a political theorist, and it is on this basis and for this reason that I venture to offer some comments on the theoretical presuppositions which underlie his essay.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law, University of Leyden


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