June 24-26, 2021

Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State

Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State, June 24-26, 2021, Buffalo, New York.

Join us for a workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State, June 24-26, 2021, Buffalo, New York, to be held at The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, and the University at Buffalo School of Law. The event is co-sponsored by Legal Form.


Workshop Organizer: Matthew Dimick
Email: mdimick@buffalo.edu


How should Marxism, broadly understood, approach law, regulation, and the administrative state—conceptually as well as strategically? Socialists have always been of two minds when confronted with the specific dilemmas of administration and regulation. This is no truer than today, when neoliberalism has precipitated a crisis of the administrative state, which is ill-equipped to address financial disarray, environmental catastrophe, and a global public health emergency. It is clear that the neoliberal state’s strength in imposing market discipline upon an atomized society comes at the cost of limiting its capacity to respond to crises of capitalist social reproduction.

Indeed, renewed contemporary attention to political economy has often been accompanied by calls for the repair or renewal of the administrative and regulative capacities of the capitalist state. But socialist opposition to the capitalist state has always been attended by a trenchant critique of the bureaucratic form of regulation as well as an appreciation of the class character of the state—contradictory and indeterminate though that character may be. This can be found in Marx’s writings, especially following the Paris Commune. The critique of bureaucracy and bourgeois democracy receives its most passionate expression in the pages of Lenin’s The State and Revolution. And for the Frankfurt School, the “administered society” is a form of domination that corresponds all too well with the domination of capital.


Participants will share papers that are directly concerned with the themes described above, and may address a range of related questions as well.

  • What are the strengths and limitations of regulation, bureaucracy, and administrative law from a specifically Marxist perspective?
  • Can regulation provide an effective challenge to or bulwark against the rule of capital? 
  • Are alternative forms of regulation (outside regulation as administrative law) feasible within capitalist social relations? Beyond those social relations? 
  • What do these engagements with administration and regulation look like in specific contexts—for instance, employment discrimination, the environment, health and safety, housing, securities and financial regulation, or international law? 
  • Are there links between the value form of capital and the instrumental logic of the administrative state and its laws? How can the analysis of the administrative state provide insights into the debates about the construction of a post-capitalist, socialist society? 
  • Should previous critiques of bureaucracy (e.g., Marx, Lenin, the Frankfurt School, etc.) be reaffirmed, revised, or rejected? 
  • How does the theory of the “administered society” fare in light of the neoliberalism’s persistence despite decades of crisis?
Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State, June 24-26, 2021, Buffalo, New York.