Sie sind auf Seite 1von 5

Socialist Law

minister of justice. These courts were not structured to See also: Law and Society: Sociolegal Studies;
be independent, and the existing political control fur- Marxism\Leninism; Marxist Social Thought, His-
ther increased the likelihood of ‘telephone justice’. tory of; Socialism; Socialism: Historical Aspects
Socialist legal theory emphasized the key role of the
Prokuratura in the administration of justice. The
organizational design of the Soviet Prokuratura was
inherited from the czarist administration. It was a Bibliography
select, centralized body; procurators served in total Collins H 1982 Marxism and Law. Oxford University Press,
subordination to their superiors, in what was a Oxford, UK
quasimilitary organization. They were much better David R, Brierley J E C 1985 Major Legal Systems in the World
paid than judges. The Prokuratura was in charge of Today: An Introduction to the Comparatie Study of Law.
criminal prosecution, representing the state in court, Stevens and Sons, London
but it also routinely supervised the activities of the Eo$ rsi Gy 1979 Comparatie Ciil (Priate) Law. Akade! miai
Kiado! , Budapest, Hungary
state administration. Lenin considered the Prokura-
Feifer G 1964 Justice in Moscow. Simon and Schuster, New
tura the bulwark of socialist legality. He knew that a York
centralized state power could not afford any par- Hazard J N 1969 Communists and Their Law. University of
ticularism, and all local, particular normative systems Chicago Press, Chicago
represented serious deviance. Normative particular- Krygier M 1994 Marxism, ideology and law. In: Krygier M
ism was especially dangerous if it originated in state (ed.) Marxism and Communism: Posthumous Reflections on
bodies. As Lenin wrote to Stalin ‘legality cannot be Politics, Society, and Law. Rodopi, Amsterdam
legality of Kaluga or the legality of Kazan but must be Marcuse H 1971 Soiet Marxism: A Critical Analysis. Penguin,
one single all-Russian legality.’ Thus the task of the Harmondsworth, UK
Prokuratura was to ‘see to the establishment of a truly Marx K, Engels F 1976 The Poerty of Philosophy, Collected
Works. Lawrence and Wishart, London, Vol. VI
uniform understanding of legality.’ The supervisory Podgorecki A, Olgiati V (eds.) 1996 Totalitarian and Post-
powers of the Prokuratura included the authority to totalitarian Law. Dartmouth, Aldershot, UK
ask for ordinary and extraordinary review of court Thompson E P 1977 Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black
decisions, even when it was not a party in the case it Act. Penguin, Harmondsworth, UK
sought to review. Ironically, the fear of localism Vyshinskii A I A (ed.) 1948 The Law of the Soiet State.
resulted in minimal protection for the population: the Macmillan, New York
central bodies had an interest in mobilizing local Zweigert K, Ko$ tz H 1987 Introduction to Comparatie Law.
populations against local authorities, and they en- Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK
couraged denunciation of local (nonpolitical) abuses
to the extent that they deviated from centrally author- A. Sajo
ized injustice. The dependence of citizens on local
services was attenuated in the name of central law.
Rules of procedure aimed to protect the material and
political interests of the state, and allowed for
paternalistic intervention in private litigation. The Socialist Societies: Anthropological
procedures followed simplified continental models
that had traditionally existed in the given country. Aspects
The inquisitorial nature of the traditional continen-
tal criminal procedure was further aggravated by Socialist (also known as communist) societies con-
Soviet solutions regarding the admissibility of police- stitute a class of twentieth-century societies sharing
gathered evidence. two distinctive features: the political dominance of a
In civil matters judges were required to establish revolutionary—usually a Communist—Party, and
‘objective justice’ and were not bound by parties’ widespread nationalization of means of production,
motions. The paternalistic nature of continental civil with consequent preponderance of state and collective
procedure dramatically increased, resulting in further property. This definition excludes societies governed
dependence, as far as the parties were concerned. On by socialist or social-democratic parties in multiparty
the other hand, the simplifications and limited access systems, such as the Scandinavian welfare states. It
to court yielded cheap and relatively swift administra- includes the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of
tion of justice (where courts were available at all). China, and (for some part of their histories) the East
Civil litigation rates were stable, and the most com- European countries, Mongolia, North Korea, Viet-
mon type of litigation was divorce related. Criminal nam, South Yemen, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and
litigation (except when criminal justice was used as a Mozambique.
tool of class struggle, in the 1930s and 1950s, stabilized Socialist societies came into being with the 1917
at low level. Criminality was limited because of the Bolshevik Revolution and the establishment of the
efficient social control exercised by the oppressive state Soviet Union. Others founded later by various means
mechanism. (revolution, conquest, or annexation) all reflected the

Socialist Societies: Anthropological Aspects

influence—both negative and positive—of the Soviet principle, instituting redistribution as the chief ex-
model created under Lenin and Stalin. All employed change modality and the system’s raison d’eV tre: every-
extensive coercion and central control, yet they in- one would have the right to work, and the wealth
creased living standards, access to housing, employ- they produced would be redistributed as welfare for
ment, education, and medical care. Although they all. Centralized redistribution required social owner-
instituted new hierarchies, they also promoted gender ship and control of productive resources, together
equality and improved life-chances for many disad- with centralized appropriation of the product for
vantaged people. reallocation along lines set by the Party. The instru-
ment Party leaders developed to orchestrate pro-
duction and distribution was the plan. Fulfilling it,
1. Research on Socialist Societies however, depended on relations of reciprocity, both
clientelistic and egalitarian.
For much of the twentieth century, social science Although these were highly bureaucratized societ-
understanding of these societies was politically cir- ies, they were not Max Weber’s impersonal modern
cumscribed. Their own scholars were under strict bureaucracies dedicated to procedural rationality.
Party control; nonetheless, invaluable knowledge Dense social networks sustained reciprocal exchanges
came from dissidents (e.g., Bahro 1978, Casals 1980) that, far from constituting resistance to bureaucratic
and from scholars in countries with strong reform control, were intrinsic to its functioning: horizontal
movements (e.g., Kornai 1980, Wesolowski 1966). In exchanges enabled socialist managers to do their jobs,
Western Europe and the US, political and economic and clientelism facilitated controlling both labor and
hostility to communist principles distorted thinking Party cadres in seemingly noncoercive ways. Personal-
about socialist societies as epitomized in the concept of istic ties extended far beyond the bureaucracy as well,
totalitarianism, which overstressed the importance of linking ordinary citizens with one another and with
terror and top-down control. In all Western social bureaucrats. The warp and woof of socialist societies,
science disciplines, impediments to on-site fieldwork then, consisted of vertical and horizontal relations of
hindered understanding. This situation improved in patronage, loyalty, and exchanges of goods, favors,
the late 1960s, for Eastern Europe, and the 1980s, for and gifts. Although the forms of these relations
the Soviet Union and China, as deT tente and the differed according to the various societies’ prerevolu-
impetus for technology transfer produced an infra- tionary histories and cultures, (e.g., gift relations in
structure for intellectual exchange. The result was China, compadrazgo in Cuba or Nicaragua, or specific
analyses that displaced totalitarian models to explore kinship structures of Soviet minorities), they were
the societies’ inner workings, with greater attention to widely prevalent in all. In each socialist society words
phenomena such as kinship, ritual, the mobilization of indicating ‘connections’ (Russian blat, Chinese guanxi,
labor, and the exchange of gifts and favors, as well as Romanian pile, Hungarian protekcioT , Cuban com-
more subtle treatments of political economy (e.g., pang erismo, Polish dojscie) appeared often in daily
Humphrey 1983). speech.

2. Political Economy and Social Organization

2.2 Organized Shortage
Although they varied widely in economic development
(from industrialized Czechoslovakia, to agricultural Personal relations were integral to socialism in part
China and Cuba, to pastoral Mongolia), most societies because of certain pervasive features of planned
that became socialist lagged behind the advanced economies: tension between Party planners and firm
industrial countries economically; all embarked on managers, bargaining and soft budget constraints, and
programs of state-led development through central barter amid shortage. Socialist property could be
planning. The following description of their political productive only if the center’s ownership\control
economies emphasizes ‘classic’ socialism prior to the rights were disaggregated and devolved on to lower-
reforms introduced at various times, and draws on level managers charged with realizing production.
research in both agricultural and industrial settings in Because planning could never foresee all contingen-
China, the Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe. cies, these managers had considerable discretionary
power. Expected to achieve Party directives with
inadequate wage funds and to exceed their plan targets
with inadequate raw materials, they bore responsi-
2.1 Redistributie Bureaucracies and Reciprocal
bility far greater than the means allotted them for
fulfilling it. Therefore, they strove constantly to
Owing to the role of exchange in legitimizing socialism, expand their local power base and their effective
it is appropriate to begin with Karl Polanyi’s three capacities. In doing so, they posed a threat to their
basic modes of exchange: reciprocity, redistribution, superiors, who thus were motivated to encourage
and markets. Socialist systems suppressed the market subordinates’ loyalty with favors and patronage.

Socialist Societies: Anthropological Aspects

In redistributive systems governed not by demand was effectively no ‘working class,’ and they lacked the
for products but by the Party’s planned allocation, resources for either paying labor well or substituting
materials for production could not simply be bought capital-intensive methods. Moreover, the shortage
on a market; their availability depended on the economy encouraged firms to employ excess workers
supplies budgeted in plans and on often-inefficient so they could complete monthly plans once sufficient
central distribution. Managers, therefore, requested materials were on hand (in a frenzied effort known as
more supplies than they needed, hoping to obtain ‘storming’); managers, therefore, padded their work-
enough materials to fulfill and exceed their targets. force, exacerbating shortage. Labor shortage, thus,
Because the planning mechanism required firms to had both macro and micro dimensions. Means for
produce regardless of profitability—they operated stabilizing the labor supply included making work-
under soft budget constraints and were rescued rather places the locus of benefits such as daycare, housing,
than bankrupted if they lost money—local managers vacation permits, pensions, medical care, etc. Certain
could with impunity overstate their needs for materials cities were closed to immigration and construction of
and investments and then hoard any excess. They also urban infrastructures was limited (Szele! nyi 1983), thus
strove to bargain their plan targets downward, making compelling millions to become village-based ‘peasant-
it easier to fill these and have goods left over. workers.’
Comparable processes occurred in both industry and Within each industrial and agricultural workplace,
agriculture, as cadres everywhere manipulated infor- managers had to ensure a labor supply adequate to
mation, under-reported production, and engaged in both normal production and periods of ‘storming.’
illicit trade to benefit their firm or locale. Workers, for their part, might bargain for better
The result of bargaining and hoarding was endemic conditions by withholding labor, through intentional
scarcity of the materials necessary for production; slowdowns or time off for household tasks and
thus, classic socialist societies were economies of moonlighting—that is, labor shortage gave workers
shortage (Kornai 1980). Shortage caused competition structural leverage. Conflicting demands for labor put
among firms but also widespread exchanges, managers a premium on ways of accumulating rights in people.
supplying from their hoard today the materials needed For managers, these included extending patronage
by others who would return the favor tomorrow. and favors (e.g., access to schooling, houses, or
Thus, firms hoarded materials not only to cover building sites), overlooking petty illegalities, and
emergencies in their own production but to backstop securing loose plans that enabled them to produce a
the supplies needed by others in their network. surplus they might use to create labor-securing debt
Shortage affected materials for production and also and exchange relations (cf. Humphrey 1983). Both
consumption goods, generating the queues charac- managers and others needing labor might appeal to
teristic of many socialist societies. It also affected two kinship idioms, emphasize ethnic identities, participate
other crucial resources: information and labor. in special rituals, and expand networks of reciprocity
Party planners could implement top-down planning through gift-giving. Thus, the quest for labor further
only if they had detailed and accurate information. encouraged personal ties and reinforced particularistic
This happened rarely, for lower-level cadres had many identities.
incentives to falsify information so as to build careers
by appearing successful, evade responsibility for dis-
2.4 Second Economies and Socialist Reform
asters, inflate their materials requests, provide
cushions against production shortfalls, overfulfill their Believing they alone could best determine how social
targets to receive bonuses, etc. From these discrepant wealth should be redistributed, Party leaders initially
needs came a perpetual struggle over information. opposed economic activity not encompassed within
Higher authorities hoarded information as a source of plans. The inability of planning to cover social needs
power and engaged in continual information gathering at the given level of technological endowment, how-
at all levels of society (Horva! th and Szakolczai 1992). ever, compelled officials to permit and even legalize
Censorship and careful management of information at some small-scale private effort, known as the ‘second’
the top provoked information hunger below, gen- (or informal, unofficial, or shadow) economy. Among
erating a culture of rumor, gossip, selective secrecy, its forms were food production on small plots, after-
and conspiratorial explanations of events, as well as hours repair work or construction, typing, tutoring,
producing a citizenry skilled at reading between the unofficial taxi services, etc. Because these activities
lines. Classic socialist societies were thus a special kind overlapped with semilegal and illegal ones, their
of information society. situation was everywhere precarious, with authorities
persecuting them more in some times and places than
in others. The second economy was largest in Hungary
2.3 Labor Shortage and Rights in People
after 1968, for example, small in Cuba until Castro’s
An additional resource subject to shortage was labor. ‘Rectification’ of 1986, harassed in Romania through-
Relatively underdeveloped socialist economies had out the 1980s; it burgeoned in post-1978 China;
initial problems mobilizing skilled workers where there extreme forms are reported for the Soviet Union,

Socialist Societies: Anthropological Aspects

where entire factories ran illegal production after reduced vocabularies, clusters of noun phrases, and
hours. Crucial to understanding the second economy few (often passive) verbs, creating a limited, static
is that it nearly always utilized materials from the first verbal world. Party cadres intervened exhaustively in
(or formal, official) economy; its much-noted high all facets of life, aspiring to create new moralities and
rates of productivity were subsidized, then, by state to control populations in myriad ways. They attacked
firms. The prevalence of second-economic activity religion as superstition, instituted new socialist rituals,
both indicated popular resistance to the Party’s and expanded educational access to create enlightened
definition of needs and helped to fill those needs by citizens indifferent to religious belief. They filled the
voluntarily lengthening the working day. air with moral exhortations aimed at instilling a new,
Pressure from the second economy was but one of puritan, socialist ethic. Toward better management of
many signs of difficulty in socialist planning that led to resources, they introduced massive population pro-
repeated efforts at reform, initiated from both within grams, from Romania’s enforced pronatalism to
and outside the Party. Beginning with Lenin’s New China’s stringent birth control, insinuating themselves
Economic Policy, every socialist society experienced into people’s most intimate lives, often to devastating
cycles of reform and retrenchment, devolution and effect (e.g., Kligman 1998).
recentralization (cf. Skinner and Winckler 1969, Nee Dedicated to building an alternative to the world of
and Stark 1989). Most exhibited a trend toward less bourgeois capitalism, communist leaders announced
stringent planning and the introduction of market an assault on all forms of inequality, including those
mechanisms, heightened material incentives, and based in kinship status, gender, class, and ethno-
mixed property forms. System-wide experimentation national difference. Society would be homogenized,
began with Khrushchev’s 1956 ‘Secret Speech’ criti- lineage-based kinship structures broken up, gender
cizing Stalin and increased as each society moved from differences minimized and authority relations in fam-
‘extensive’ development (mobilizing resources) to the ilies altered, classes and private property abolished,
‘intensive’ phase (attention to productivity). Hungary national minorities given equal chances. New social
and Yugoslavia introduced the most durable early entities emerged—state and collective farms, teams,
reforms; those in the Soviet Union ended in the and brigades, for instance, to take the place of kin-
collapse of the Soviet bloc, while comparable reforms groups and village structures. When pre-existing social
continued in China, North Vietnam, and Cuba. As relations proved difficult to abolish, they would be co-
they reformed, socialist societies increasingly diverged opted and turned to the Party’s purposes. From all
not only from the Stalinist model but from one these efforts would result the ‘new socialist man,’ a
another, introducing path-dependent differences that new kind of person, and the ‘people-as-One,’ a new
became ever more marked. kind of human community, bearing an exalted socialist
Despite these differences, the reforms everywhere consciousness.
redefined basic units of activity (e.g., revitalizing The results of these interventions were decidedly
villages or households at the expense of collective mixed. To begin with, the Party failed to speak with
farms, teams, or brigades); altered gender relations one voice, as ministries vied for resources rather than
(usually in favor of men and patriarchal authority) cooperating to remold society, and as cadres built
and increased other inequalities; affected networks of their careers by under- or over-executing central
reciprocity (expanding horizontal over vertical con- directives and engaging in rampant corruption. In
nections); dismantled at least some socialist property addition, the annexation of pre-existing forms inevi-
(as with China’s decollectivization, begun in 1978); tably modified the purposes they were intended to
shifted the locus of authority (usually downward, serve. Exhibiting greater capacity to formulate goals
provoking reactions from higher-level bureaucrats); than to implement them, socialist governments were
and entailed new, more intimate forms of state plagued continually by the unforeseen consequences
penetration (implied, e.g., in Chinese rituals that no of their policies. To solve conflicts among nationalities
longer imagined gods or ancestors as inhabiting a they institutionalized ethnonational difference in ways
nether world but found them immediately present). that strengthened it; they embraced nationalist idioms
that then overtook socialist ones (Verdery 1991, 1996).
3. Social Engineering and Resistant Personhood Parties created working classes only to find themselves
opposed by their creation, as with the Polish autho-
All Communist Parties promoted massive projects of rities and Solidarity.
social engineering. They accorded knowledge and Beyond this, resistance to social engineering proli-
expertise a privileged place, under Party monopoly. ferated even as people adopted the new forms. Con-
Convinced of the creative power of language, Party stant surveillance politicized behavior: small acts of
leaders both used and modified language in com- joke telling became willful anarchy in the eyes of both
manding ways. They spoke of things that had yet to be authorities and joke tellers. Dissidents sought support
created—the working class, the proletarian dictator- internally and abroad for their critiques of the system,
ship, the new socialist man—as if those things already launching projects to build ‘civil society’ against the
existed, and they developed hieratic speech with state. Less visibly, peasant refusal to accept starvation

Socialist Societies: Anthropological Aspects

from China’s Great Leap Forward or Eastern Casals F G 1980 The Syncretic Society. M. E. Sharpe, White
Europe’s delivery quotas ultimately forced the autho- Plains, NY
rities to renounce these policies (Yang 1996, Re! v Horva! th A, Szakolczai A 1992 The Dissolution of Communist
Power: The Case of Hungary. Routledge, New York
1987), while popular insistence on adequate living
Humphrey C 1983 Karl Marx Collectie: Economy, Society and
standards pressed the parties toward reform. Religion in a Siberian Collectie Farm. Cambridge University
Highly complex political effects centered on the Press, Cambridge, UK
making of persons and political subjects. Redistri- Judd E R 1994 Gender and Power in Rural North China. Stanford
bution and socialist paternalism tended to create University Press, Stanford, CA
subjects disposed to dependency and passive expec- Kligman G 1998 The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Repro-
tation; early campaigns taught the poor to see them- duction in Ceausm escu’s Romania. University of California
selves as victims of oppression (rather than simply of Press, Berkeley, CA
fate) and offered them the Party’s instrument of Kornai J 1980 Economics of Shortage. North-Holland,
vengeance, in the form of denunciations. Thus arous-
Kornai J 1992 The Socialist System. Princeton University Press,
ing people’s complicity, the Party also instilled self- Princeton, NJ
denigration. At the same time, however, many adopted Nee V, Stark D (eds.) 1989 Remaking the Economic Institutions
dissimulation as a mode of being: apparent compliance of Socialism: China and Eastern Europe. Stanford University
covered inner resistance. The resultant ‘social schizo- Press, Stanford, CA
phrenia,’ ‘doubling,’ duplicity, or split self is described Re! v I 1987 The advantages of being atomized. Dissent 34:
for every socialist society. It accompanied a pervasive 335–50
dichotomization of the world into ‘Us’ (the people) Skinner G W, Winckler E A 1969 Compliance succession in
and ‘Them’ (the authorities). More significantly, it en- rural Communist China: A cyclical theory. In: Etzioni A (ed.)
A Sociological Reader on Complex Organizations, 2nd edn.
couraged subtle forms of self-making in people’s own
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York
terms: defiantly they consumed forbidden Western Szele! nyi I 1983 Urban Inequalities under State Socialism. Oxford
goods, created self-respect through diligent second- University Press, Oxford, UK
economy work while loafing on their formal jobs, Verdery K 1991 National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and
participated in ethnic- or kin-based identities and Cultural Politics in Ceausm escu’s Romania. University of Cali-
rituals constitutive of self, and gave gifts not just to fornia Press, Berkeley, CA
secure advantage but to confirm their sociality as Verdery K 1996 What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next?
persons and human beings. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
The collapse of the Soviet bloc hinders a balanced Walder A G 1986 Communist Neo-traditionalism: Work and
Authority in Chinese Industry. University of California Press,
assessment of socialism, which once represented great
Berkeley, CA
hope for countless people. Undeniably, socialist soci- Wesolowski W 1966 Classes, Strata, and Power. Routledge &
eties diminished certain forms of oppression, yet they Kegan Paul, London
created others. In many of these societies, an early e! lan Yang D 1996 Calamity and Reform in China: State, Rural
for the expressed goals gave way to cynicism and a Society, and Institutional Change since the Great Leap Famine.
feeling of betrayal, as the means used to achieve them Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA
sabotaged their fulfillment. Admirable gains in edu-
cation, medical care, and social well-being counted for K. Verdery
less against the devastating purges, labor camps,
Party-induced famines, environmental degradation, Copyright # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.
and abuses of human rights. Top-down engineering All rights reserved.
foundered as socialism’s leaders resisted their citizens’
efforts to educate them about social relationships, self Sociality: Anthropological Aspects
and human feeling, the value of ritual practices, and
the limits to imposed change. The lessons of these 1. The Problem of Culture
citizens’ refusals, their silent revolutions from below,
should guide future attempts to create alternatives to Sociality is the capacity for social behavior, a capacity
the world of global capitalism. particularly marked among human beings, as evi-
denced by the intensity, complexity, and endless
See also: Mao Zedong; People’s Republic of China; variety of human social life. This definition echoes the
Soviet Union; Stalin; Cold War, The; Communism; earlier use of sociality in philosophy and psychology,
Communism, History of; Informal and Underground where it is used to denote the fact of human social
Economics; Marxism\Leninism; Socialism; Socialism: interdependence and to correct a tendency in those
Historical Aspects; Soviet Studies: Culture; Total- disciplines to explain human behavior in individu-
itarianism alistic terms alone. Sociality is used differently among
evolutionary biologists, where it denotes the actually
observed social behavior of a species, such as its
Bibliography mating system or dominance hierarchy; sociality so
Bahro R 1978 The Alternatie in Eastern Europe. Verso, London described is then subjected to an explanation from


International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences ISBN: 0-08-043076-7