Class Structure of International Law

Faruk Yalvaç


This article analyses the implications of commodity form theory in explaining international law. It argues that international law reflects the underlying social relationships of inequality in the world system and plays an essential role in the reproduction of capitalist relations of production. International law is seen as having an ideological function in concealing social contradictions and actual content of social relations. This argument is demonstrated through a critique of the commodity form theory developed by Pashukanis whose views on international law are different from the instrumentalist understanding of law prevalent in Marxist literature. According to Pashukanis, to understand the class basis and class specificity of law requires a critical analysis of the legal form itself. Law is a historical form, is the product of a particular type of society and expresses certain social relationships. What are therefore necessary are a materialist explanation of the legal form and the explanation of the material conditions which brought legal categories into being. This is as true for law in general as it is for international law.

Key Words: International law, Pashukanis, Commodity Form Theory,
Marxism, Ideology.

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