The Right Coast

December 23, 2003
More on Marxian Tort Law
By Michael Rappaport

Ethan Leib writes to complain about my post on his Marxist Theory of Tort Law. He writes:
    I wonder if intellectual integrity doesn't demand that we take seriously any idea--even Nazi tort law--if it provides a conceptual arsenal that can illuminate our own practices or provide a standpoint from which to view our own practices in a new light. . . . If you had taken the time to do more than glance at the paper, of course, you would have seen that I don't argue for a Marxist administration of tort.
I am glad to here that Mr. Leib does not endorse a “Marxist administration of tort.” (Of course, I had not thought so from glancing at his paper. That was not my objection.) I am also glad to hear that he is merely using Marxian theory to “illuminate our own practices.” I have no objection in principle to any such analysis, but I am highly skeptical in practice that Marxian theory will enlighten us – especially after a century in which some our brightest minds have plumbed the depths of it. For an earlier post on this subject, see here.

The problem is that given the obvious weaknesses of Marxian theory, it seems to me that most people who spend time on Marxian theory do so because they are still attracted to it. And I find this both intellectually and morally depraved.

If Mr. Leib is not attracted to the theory – a point which is at least not obvious on the face of his paper, but may very well be true – then I say great.