Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law

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“China Mieville’s brilliantly original book is an indispensable guide for anyone concerned with international law. It is the most comprehensive scholarly account available of the central theoretical debates about the foundations of international law. It offers a guide for the lay reader into the central texts in the field.”—Peter Gowan, Professor, International Relations, London Metropolitan University.

Mieville critically examines existing theories of international law and offers a compelling alternative Marxist view.

China Mieville, PhD, International Relations, London School of Economics, is an independent researcher and an award-winning novelist. His novel Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"China Miéville has produced an elegant and highly welcome critique of modern international law. His sharp but undogmatic use of Marxist analysis strikes effectively at the implausibility and ideological nature of many of the assumptions that support the application of the rule of law between States. His narrative of the consolidation of international law as part of the capitalist States-system provides a much-needed corrective to standard ‘idealist’ or ‘realist’ histories in the field and his stress on international law’s intrinsic imperialism will challenge the profession for years to come. Respectful of the Marxist classics, Between Equal Rights is the most sophisticated Left critique of international law available today as well as one of the most significant contributions to the theory and history of international law I have read. It raises the debate about law’s role in a globalised world order to a completely new level."
Martti Koskenniemi, Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki.

"China Miéville’s brilliantly original book is an indispensable guide for anyone concerned with international law. It is the most comprehensive scholarly account available of the central theoretical debates about the foundations of international law. It offers a guide for the lay reader into the central texts in the field and it mounts a formidable challenge to experts to address fundamental theoretical issues about the subject which are too often simply ignored. Miéville’s own search for a positive theory of international law takes him into the debates among Soviet legal scholars in the 1920s and in particular to the writings of Evgeny Pashukanis whose seminal works on capitalism and law have been available in English since the 1920s but whose significance for a theory of international law is brought out by Miéville for the first time. Miéville’s insistence that any adequate account of the foundations of contemporary international law must explore its inner connection with the sociology of capitalism is both a novelty in the field and surely the right starting point for a new, much needed debate about this important subject."
Peter Gowan, Professor of International Relations, London Metropolitan University.

"China Miéville's new book is unique. At one level, it provides a rigorous introduction to left wing perspectives on the relationship between law and politics, a topic of enduring interest inside and outside the academy. At another level, however, it tells the story of international law and its intellectual development from a Marxist point of view. It is as the latter that Between Equal Rights represents a real oasis in the desert for those of us teaching the law of nations, international relations, or diplomatic history. We have waited a long time for a comprehensive and progressive critique of international law. Miéville proves the wait was worth it."
Anthony Chase, Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University Law Center

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931859332
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books
  • Publication date: 5/15/2006
  • Series: Historical Materialism Book Series
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

China Mieville

China Mieville, Ph.D. (2001) in International Relations, London School of Economics, is an independent researcher and an award-winning novelist. He is a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism. Mieville's novel Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. He lives in London, England.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 'The vanishing point of jurisprudence' : international law in mainstream theory 9
Ch. 2 Dissident theories : critical legal studies and historical materialism 45
Ch. 3 For Pashukanis : an exposition and defence of the commodity-form theory of law 75
Ch. 4 Coercion and the legal form : politics, (international) law and the state 117
Ch. 5 States, markets and the sea : issues in the history of international law 153
Ch. 6 Imperialism, sovereignty and international law 225
Conclusion : against the rule of law 295
App Pashukanis on international law 321
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    Highly recommended and relevant reading

    Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory Of International Law by China Mieville is a sharp and deftly presented leftist critique of international law from the sixteenth century to the present day. Decrying the complicity of legal norms with the violence inflicted by empires and colonization, Between Equal Rights weighs Marxism against mercantile colonialism, sovereignty, the fine line between imposing imperial will and 'police actions', and much more. A philosophical discussion intended for intermediate to advanced students of political, legal, and social theory, Between Equal Rights offers a fierce dissection of the weaknesses, cruelties and blind spots of the status quo, and is highly recommended and relevant reading for students of contemporary International Studies with respect to the issues of international law and the current 'war on terrorism' being waged by the United States government and its allies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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