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Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (Historical Materialism Book Series) Paperback – May 1, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1931859332 ISBN-10: 1931859337

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Product Details

  • Series: Historical Materialism Book Series (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931859337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931859332
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

China Mieville, Ph.D. (2001) in International Relations, London School of Economics, is an independent researcher and an award-winning novelist. He is a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism. Mieville's novel Perdido Street Station won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. He lives in London, England.

More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. Binh on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
A challenging read, but essential for understanding international law and its relationship to imperialism, both theoretically and historically. He makes an original and convincing argument that the legal form itself, the law, is directly and fundamentally implied by the existence of commodities. Not only that, but he argues that the ownership of commodities, in the final analysis, is based on the ability to use force to control that commodity, and that violence is fundamental to the legal form, both within and between states.

Armed with this Marxist approach, he is able to explain why international law is law, despite the lack of an armed authority above the world's states to enforce it, which is a big theoretical dilemma that (bourgeois) political science majors and specialists in the field of International Relations (IR) have fruitlessly wrestled with for decades. He also explains why international law persists and why states continue to use it, despite the fact that it is routinely ignored by the dominant powers (the U.S., Israel, Russia, China, etc).

The book closes with the historical development of international law and shows how it is connected with the creation of the world market beginning in the late 1400s and the rise of capitalism as the planet's dominant economic system which completely altered political structures, morals, and ideological norms as it subordinated everything to its logic.

I plan on reading "Law and the Rise of Capitalism" by Madeleine Levy and Michael Tigar soon to help me understand this book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory Of International Law by China Mieville is a sharp and deftly presented leftist critique of international law from the sixteenth century to the present day. Decrying the complicity of legal norms with the violence inflicted by empires and colonization, Between Equal Rights weighs Marxism against mercantile colonialism, sovereignty, the fine line between imposing imperial will and "police actions", and much more. A philosophical discussion intended for intermediate to advanced students of political, legal, and social theory, Between Equal Rights offers a fierce dissection of the weaknesses, cruelties and blind spots of the status quo, and is highly recommended and relevant reading for students of contemporary International Studies with respect to the issues of international law and the current "war on terrorism" being waged by the United States government and its allies.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By D. J. J. Bendien on August 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Science fiction writer China Mieville's Marxist Phd thesis "Between Equal Rights" is among the more challenging books you're likely to read. His meandering and discursive though erudite analysis refers to and comments on an enormous smorgasbord of authors (there are some 26 pages of bibliography), but regrettably often without clear and systematic exposition of their theoretical positions - thus, to evaluate what is being said often requires good knowledge of the background literature being reviewed. The general reader might therefore quickly feel at a loss, if not put off altogether by abstract Marxist terminology. There are also not a few rhetorical assertions and metaphorical allusions. While one could agree that international law is often a formality flouted in practice or a justifying ideology, I for one am not persuaded by his argument - not just because I think the defended theory of the Russian Marxist Pashukanis (that a legal order is a reflection of commodity exchange) is flawed, but because a profound anthropological-historical perspective on law that one might expect from a Marxist is lacking, and because there is no profound discussion of the role of ethics in society. I therefore often find his claims more question-begging than anything else. The interested reader would be well-advised to read - if he has not already done so - Pashukanis's treatise on "law an Marxism" before attempting to wrestle with this book.
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