Marx, Law, Ideology, Legal Positivism

This piece below was presented during the Jurisprudence and (Its) History Symposium, held by the Virginia Law Review and the Program in Legal and Constitutional History in September 2014. 

This Article offers an account of Marx’s theory of history and his claim that law (and morality) are “ideological,” and then asks what theory of law is adequate to explain the way the Marxist theory understands law in both its ideological and non-ideological senses. I will argue that legal positivism, unlike other views about the nature of law, provides a sensible explanation of law for purposes of the Marxist theory of historical change. This latter fact, in turn, gives us another data point in favor of positivism as the only serious explanation of the concept of law, precisely because it is able to explain the concept of law that figures in one of the most important explanatory paradigms in history and the social sciences.