The first of a two-part response, in which Dagan responds to the concern that liberal property is self-destructive.
Liberalism as the “Mansion on the Hill”
I want to suggest, however, that autonomy—even Dagan’s rehabilitated, communitarian conception of it—is a myth. Rather, the dependence and reliance (the vulnerability) against which autonomy is pitted is not pathogenic. It is not pathological. It is not an error to be fixed or a deficiency to be remedied.”
Dyal Chand’s concern is that Dagan’s vision does not ensure the level of collective restraint that will be required to pull us back from our current state of crisis. Some of the choices that Dagan argues should remain available to self-actualizing individuals, particularly those that allow for more individualized decision-making, may simply be unwise to keep available at a time when the pursuit of autonomy through property has produced serious collective harms.
Dagan’s theory of property provides a novel way to make sense of the puzzle of incorporating diversity within uniformity of property rights, but his approach fails to capture the deep pluralism of property.
In this post, we specifically consider liberal defenses of private property in the “means of production”. This focus allows us to put the liberal defense of private property into dialogue with Marxism, with which it shares a broad humanistic heritage and many particular normative framings. Our focus also connects liberal property theory with a variety of later critiques of private property in certain productive resources, including those of the progressive and realist lawyers who generated American doctrines concerning “public utility” and other modes of resource governance that are neither strictly “private property” nor strictly matters of state control.
Klare speaks to the virtues of post- and non-marxist social theory. My impression is that these literatures are long on the kind of disaggregation that the theory of underdetermination permits. Marxist critical theory tends to place more emphasis on aggregating, finding patterns. That kind of thought and past socialists who held to only minimally appear in Klare’s text and do so largely as foils. I would like to suggest that marxist social theory and the identification of patterns that persist over time – such as structural domination – is at least equally valid for left purposes and for understanding the relationship between law and political economy.
A recent workshop on the “Jurisprudence of Distribution” invited the opening panelists each to provide a five-minute overview of what a contemporary approach within left legal theory might offer. Other speakers covered Critical Race Theory, Feminism, Vulnerability Theory, left political economy, and so on. I took socialism and critical legal theory. Here are my five minutes (with some slight modifications for bloggability).
American negotiation theory started as, and for a long time remained, an engagement with labor and class relations. When early scholars developed their theories of negotiation in the context of workplace conflict, they did so in a moment when many workers were familiar enough with Marxist theories of class struggle to readily believe that some differences—for example, between management and labor—were not reconcilable, no matter how one performed in a negotiation. In this context, negotiation theorists aimed to open a space for potentially harmonious group relationships by introducing the concept of “integration”— the idea that labor and management could reorient their interests by creating new common values together.
The importance of Graeber’s work goes well beyond money and debt. In my view, anybody interested in building up a renewed legal realism that can stand up to not just law-and-economics but also the updated formalism of liberal analytic moral/legal theory would be well served to familiarize themselves with his writings.