Karl Marx and the Rule of Law

Topics: Law, Human rights, Common law Pages: 9 (3079 words) Published: November 5, 2012



The rule of law plays a big role in the development of the western democratic order. A vague concept of rule of law started evolving more than 2000 years ago, at the time of Aristotle . Later a strong assertion of rule of law was laid down by chief justice Coke, who was dismissed from the bench for asserting the Supremacy of Law above the King. However his views were later accepted by the parliament when it passed the Petition of Rights in 1688, and with the passage of time and rise of territorial states in the 16th century the Law of England manifested it self as a supreme entity. Since then "the concept of rule of law" has gained different interpretations over the years, especially with political prominence of the bourgeois class, and the increasing popularity of laissez-faire government in the 19h century. Since then this concept has changed over the years. However in the old tradition of any legal - political concept, the theory of rule of law has been distorted, redefined and reinvented, to be bended about and conveniently called upon every time it is politically convenient to do so. Now with United Kingdom encompassing within itself, the European community law and with the incorporation of the Human rights act, the concept of rule of law as been refined to fit its contemporary needs.

Referring to the question, Karl Marx uses the word bourgeois to classify a certain class of society. It is important to fully understand the background of this particular society. In a capitalist country, the rulers own the means of production and employ workers, and later on enjoy the profit of the product sold. The rulers of this country belong to the bourgeois class.

Marx originally aimed to diminish individuality and highly promoted the concept of equality. He has a rather negative outlook on the rule of law and is of the view that it is a mere tool of oppression used by the higher class towards the lower class. This basically suggests that the law governing a particular society serves to protect and mask the interest of those who hold power in the society instead of ensuring equality. Marx also correlates law with economical status. He says that where there is capitalism, a worker is not rewarded with the full value of his labour as he does not enjoy the final price of the product. When a consumer pays for a particular product, he pays for the price of labour, productions costs and the desired profit. Therefore, when viewed within the Marxist perspective, a worker gets paid for less than what he has produced. Here, it can be observed that Marx investigates the impact of the doctrine of the rule of law in many different ways, taking into account it’s economical, sociological, and legal impacts.

Marxism started from what Karl Marx perceived as struggle between different classes in society. According to Marx, the idea of freedom differs between classes. For example, the idea of freedom of the head of state differs from that of a humble government servant. However, in reality, no one person can deem any interpretation more correct than the other as it is a highly subjective matter. Marx is of the view that individuals produce products which are of importance to them, meaning, individuals tend to prioritise their own well-being, which is, in essence, mere human nature. This justifies his perception on the rule of law. Hence, Marx perceives the government’s implementing of the law as a means to safeguard their own interests.

Disagreeing with the way the rule of law was regulated, Marx set out to bring about a change, a revolution called “socialism”. This new revolution started off as a mere ideology and completely juxtaposed capitalism. Marx believed that in order to bring about the socialist revolution, the working class, would have to discard all prejudices including racism, social standings, and the ingrained perception that administration of the...
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