Online Event: June 25, 2021

Workshop on Marx, Law, and the Administrative State

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

June 25, 2021, Marx, Law, and the Administrative State, workshop organized by Matthew Dimick.  The online event is sponsored, in part, by: The Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy; the University at Buffalo School of Law; and Legal Form.


Workshop Organizer: Matthew Dimick


Workshop Abstract

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.

Workshop Program

Schedule subject to change.

9:45 — Brief welcome and introductory remarks by Matt Dimick 

10:00 — John Abromeit, “The Place of Liberal-Democratic Political and Legal Theory in Frankfurt School Critical Theory: The Case of Habermas’ Between Facts and Norms.” [Rob Hunter as discussant]

11:00 — Max Harris, “Executive Power, the Needs of the State, and the Interests of Capital in the United Kingdom” [Eva Nanopoulos as discussant]

12:00 — Lunch break

12:30 — Lucy Freedman, “Forming Legal Subjects: The Policing of Children Amid Economic Crisis in Britain” [Paul O’Connell as discussant]

1:30 — Nate Holdren, “Administration, Crisis, and Socialist Humanism” [Jasmine Chorley as discussant]

2:30 — Igor Shoikhedbrod, “Towards a Marxian Theory of Labour Law in the Age of Automation and AI” [Dimitrios Kivotidis as discussant]

3:30 — Coffee break

3:45 — Dom Taylor, “Law as Mediator: Reified and Complementary Conceptions of Law and the Administrative State in Neoliberal and Liberal Egalitarian Thought” [Umut Özsu as discussant]

4:45 — Closing discussion

Workshop Themes

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 Poster