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B. S. Chimni, International law and world order: a critique of contemporary approaches, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 2017, xviii+629

Chimni’s magnum: towards an integrated Marxian theory of international law?

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  1. The pages of this book will be referred to by numbers in the parentheses in the text and the book by a short form as IMAIL.

  2. See the significant section on Interpretation and theory of hermeneutics: IMAIL at 123–149.

  3. See, e.g. Jan M. Broekman • Larry Catà Backer, Lawyers Making Meaning

    The Semiotics of Law in Legal Education II (Dordrecht, Springer Science+Business Media, 2013); Anne Wagner · Jan M. Broekman (ed), Prospects of Legal Semiotics (Dordrecht, Springer Science+Business Media, 2010).

    Incidentally, I have constantly reiterated the distinction between “Marxian” and “Marxist”: the former maintaining a close conversation with Marx’s own work and texts, the latter comprising party veterans and cadres rather innocent of such studies yet swearing allegiance to the canonical name. Whenever I quote the learned author, I preserve his usage.

  4. At 446, quoting these words of Maxine Molyneux, ‘Conceptualizing Women’s Interests’ in Nancy Holmstrom (ed.) The Socialist Feminist Project: A Contemporary Reader in Theory and Politics 250–257 at 250 (Delhi, Aakar, 2011).

  5. Differently understood in liberal discourse now as ‘intersectionality’: see, Mary John, “Rejection or Critical Dialogue? Intersectionality’, Economic and Political Weekly of India, 50: 33 (15 August, 2015).

  6. Quoting at 449 from Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy 100 (Hammondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973 Translated with a Foreword by Martin Nicolausp.)

  7. See Upendra Baxi, Marx, Law and Justice: Some Indian Perspectives (Bombay, NM Tripathi/ New Delhi, Lexis Nexis, 1994). It is somewhat puzzling that this work seems not to have come to the notice of the learned author.

  8. China Miéville, Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, 6 (Leiden, Brill, 2005).

  9. See above at 54–75.

  10. See also Isaac Balbus, “Commodity Form and Legal Form: An Essay on the ‘Relative Autonomy of Law”, Law & Society Review, 11:571–578(1977); see also, Upendra Baxi, at Note 7 above.

  11. It seems that both ignored the major distinction Pashukanis has drawn between law and regulation, a distinction that eventually led to his martyrdom at Stalin’s dictates, See, Baxi Marx, Law, and Justice Note 7, Chapter 6. The distinction between ‘political’ law and technical regulation is crucial to understanding consensus on the creation and functioning, of ‘non-political’ international organizations. Would the brief discussion of international institutions (p.490) have benefitted if this perspective was borne fully in view?

  12. Footnote 177, IMAIL at 480.

  13. Footnote 176, IMAIL at 480.

  14. See, Reinhart Koselleck, “On the Need for Theory in the Discipline of History,” in, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History”, Spacing Concepts,4 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002; Todd Samuel Presner et al); Helge Jordheim,” Against Periodization: Koselleck’ s Theory of Multiple Temporalities”, History and Theory 51 151–171 (2-012); Niklas Olsen, History in the Plural: An Introduction to the Work of Reinhart Koselleck (New York: Berghahn Books, 2011).

  15. Upendra Baxi, The Future of Human Rights, Footnote 13, Chapter1, (Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2013; 3rd edition). This is another work that seems to have escaped the attention of the learned author. On many aspects, the work on Marx (Note 7, above) and this work complement his positions, though ways of reading differ. See also, Matthew Craven, Sundhya Pahuja, and Gerry Simpson (ed), International law and the Cold War (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019).

  16. Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism, (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd, 1965).

  17. Tony Blair, The Third Way: New Politics for the New Century,(London: Fabian Society (Pamphlet 58,1998); Anthony Giddens, The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy, (Cambridge, Polity 1998); Alex Callinicos, Against the Third Way,(Cambridge: Polity ,2001)

  18. Cited in IMAIL at 250, 251, respectively.

  19. See, Upendra Baxi, Human Rights in a Posthuman World: Critical Essays, Chapter 1, (Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2007).

  20. See, Seyla Behabib, Situating the Self, (New York, Routledge, 1991); Iris Marion Young, “Asymmetrical Reciprocity: On Moral Respect,” in Intersecting Voices: Dilemmas of Gender, Political Philosophy and Policy (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1997); Maria Lugones, “Playfulness, ‘World’-Travelling, and Loving Perception,” in Lesbian Philosophies and Cultures, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990; Jefffner Allen, ed.)

  21. See, the materials referred to in Upendra Baxi, “Towards a Climate Justice Theory?”, Journal of Human Rights and Environment, 7:7: 31 (2016).

  22. B. S. Chimni, International Refugee Law: A Reader, (New Delhi, SAGE, 2000).

  23. See, Upendra Baxi, “Human Rights Responsibility of Multinational Corporations, Political Ecology of Injustice: Learning from Bhopal Thirty Plus?” Business and Human Rights Journal, 1:1: 21–40 (2016).

  24. Upendra Baxi, The Future of Human Rights , Chapters 8 and 9, Note 15, supra.

  25. I may not burden this review essay with a vast number of references, but it is clear that Althusser played a definitive role in recovering Marxian vision and legacy. He certainly was the prime architect of Euro-Marxism and led the way out of dogmatic form and the concept of “overdetermination” was far from being an essentialist one. However, the question did arise whether as to when “codetermination” will end the lonely hour of the last instance. Utopic thought, responsively constituted, offers a way out provided the conditions of its manifestation stand indicated at least in broad outlines.

  26. See, Antonio Cassese (ed.), Realizing Utopia. The Future of International Law (2012). See also Cassese, Five Masters of International Law. Conversations with R-J Dupuy, E Jimenez de Arechaga, R Jennings, L Henkin and O Schachter (2011). See also, Marko Milanovic, “On Realistic Utopias and Other Oxymorons: An Essay on Antonio Cassese’s Last Book”, EJIL 23:4, 1033–1048 (2012).

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Baxi, U. B. S. Chimni, International law and world order: a critique of contemporary approaches, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 2017, xviii+629. Indian Journal of International Law 59, 469–481 (2021).

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