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Weekly Roundup: November 4, 2022


At the Blog

We featured three posts drawn from a special issue of the Southern Atlantic Quarterly on Law and the Critique of Capitalism.

On Monday, Ntina Tzouvala kicked things off by reflecting on the underlying vision of LPE put forward by the issue itself and defending Marxism as the most fruitful approach to international law and political economy. As she writes, “Marxism insists that the way that we produce and exchange the goods and services that we need structures our lifeworlds as a whole, a perspective that significantly expands the scope of a critique of law and capitalism. For example, it is urgent and essential to show in detail how a variety of domestic and international laws relating to national security and war are part of a broader ecosystem that enabled the explosion of the military-industrial complex, allowed certain factions of capital to profit at higher rates than others, and contributed of the formation and enrichment of particular intellectual classes linked to national security.”

On Tuesday, we featured a conversation between Wendy Brown and Amy Kapczynski, in which they discuss the meaning of democracy, the role of the courts, and strategies for democratizing our political economy. On the relation between courts and democracy, Brown had this to say: “While courts have secured important expansions in rights for the excluded or downtrodden, and blunted some political power grabs by the powerful—and these are not trivial—don’t most poor, working-, and middle-class people, across race and gender, experience courtrooms and everything connected to them as pure power and intimidation? Places where we don’t speak or understand the language and cannot follow the game? We feel small, confused, frightened . . . even in traffic and family court, even when we are serving on juries or seeking justice for a wrong done, even when we are merely brought in as witnesses. So while there’s plenty of what we might call noblesse oblige for democracy coming from courts, they are, in a deep way, among our most undemocratic institutions today.”

And on Thursday, Veena Dubal capped off the week by examining the cruel paradox of the “essentially dispossessed” worker during the pandemic. As she observes, “the law’s fragmented processes over the past decade left workers with unresolved, contradictory, and arbitrary outcomes regarding their access to the safety net. This, in turn, generated a mystification around employment status…. Together with the novelty of app-deployed work and the façade of innovation, the law’s processes obscured the material conditions of poverty, insecurity, despair, and disease that workers faced.”

If you enjoyed this brief taste of the issue, you’re going to love the nine-course meal, which contains full-length features of the pieces of above, as well as essays by Corinne Blalock, Amna Akbar, Jack Jackson, John Whitlow, Angela Harris, and an interview with Duncan Kennedy.

In LPE Land

Over at the Sling, a new site dedicated to competition policy & research, Marshall Steinbaum argues that platform Most-Favored Nations clauses are a hidden cause of the current macroeconomic inflation.

In the fine pages of Phenomenal World, Steven Rolf and Wei Wei interviewed Karen Levy about her new book, Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance. (Psst, watch this space for more on the subject).

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