Rediscovering Law and Justice in Historical Materialism

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.6, 2017


Rediscovering Law and Justice in Historical Materialism



Zhang Wenxi


Historical materialism is the only theory that takes a rigorously critical attitude to the legal foundation of capitalism and the associated common good. A jurisprudential analysis based on the principle of the interaction of the economic base and the superstructure is able to discern the truth of law, that is, the truth of the many relationships in real life. Legal rights are not abstract principles; they provide the material conditions for the existence and possibilities of real living individuals. However, the concept of bio-rights has not received sufficient attention in contemporary Marxist legal critiques; most of the relevant propositions exist within the biopolitical theories of such left-wing thinkers as Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben. Historical materialism has a number of theoretical facets, and the future of Marxist jurisprudential critique and its possible influence depend mainly on the critical beliefs it holds. This indicates the responsibility to be borne in exploring rule-governed legal forms and the various aims of justice inherent in the connotations of biopower.