Imperium, Dominium, Terra

This post is part of our symposium on Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of NeoliberalismRead the rest of the symposium here. 

Quinn Slobodian –

9780674979529About a year before Globalists was published, I presented in Mattias Kumm’s colloquium on Global Constitutionalism at the WZB Social Science Center. It seemed like an ordinary talk until the end when the first question came from someone who introduced himself as an international lawyer from Spain. “What are the normative implications of your talk?” he asked. I was stunned. It took me a moment to figure out why.

I’d never been asked that question before.

Historians ask about sources, they ask you to push your story forward or back—or forward and back—or wonder about unheard voices and unseen actors, or dynamics of power, or subtleties of translation and evolving meaning, about temporality and meta-narratives and space and agency and disciplinary placement and categories of analysis, but very rarely—if ever—do they ask about normative implications.

A couple of years and miles from Berlin, I’ve come to expect and even demand the question.  There are, after all, always normative implications to our work. Why not talk about them openly?

The LPE blog has been generous enough to gather pieces from seven legal scholars about my book. Few shy from the question of their Spanish colleague.

All are critics of the settlement I call alternately neoliberal globalism or ordoglobalism that coalesced in its present form in the 1990s around institutions like international investment law, European competition law, and international treaty organizations like the WTO and NAFTA.

The blog authors’ interventions cluster around questions of description and prescription. I will argue that the former supply the grounds for the latter.

What we see tells us what to do. I will conclude by suggesting what we are still missing.

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1LPE Round-up

Earlier this fall, the LPE blog launched 1LPE, which aimed to provide a critical countervailing perspective on the doctrinal areas traditionally constituting the 1L curriculum. Take a look at what we’ve published – and get ready for more posts after the break!

Criminal Law


Property

Torts

 

Constitutional Law

Job Announcement: Executive Director of the Law and Political Economy Project

We are thrilled to announce our search for the inaugural Executive Director of the Law and Political Economy Project. Details below, and please share widely. Download the announcement here. We also welcome applications for the part-time blog editor position, posted here.

The Law and Political Economy (LPE) project at Yale Law School seeks a full-time Executive Director (ED). The ideal ED will play both a scholarly and organizational role.

The LPE project is a network of scholars, practitioners, and students working to develop innovative methods at the intersections of legal, political, and economic ordering, with special attention to democracy, economic inequality and power, and racialized and gendered inequality. We seek to make our work relevant to judging, advocacy, policy, and politics as well as scholarship more traditionally understood, and see our initiative as, in part, a response to the fraught political moment and an attempt to understand and address the longer-running problems that have contributed to it. This grant-funded initiative is housed at Yale Law School, and will coordinate closely with other key hubs of legal scholarship and advocacy, including Columbia Law School, Demos, and others.

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Job Announcement: Half-time Blog Editor and Coordinator

Good news, LPE readers:  We are looking for a part-time blog coordinator, to help us continue and expand the work of the blog.  Details below, and please share widely. Download the announcement here.

A grant-funded initiative housed at Yale Law School and affiliated with Demos and Columbia Law School (and others to come) seeks a half-time blog editor and coordinator, for the recently launched “Law and Political Economy” blog (lpeblog.org).  The blog is the first initiative of a growing Law and Political Economy project, and is substantively edited and managed by a consortium of faculty and students. The site hosts commentary, analysis, and dialogues on law, politics, and economics with a progressive and egalitarian orientation. The blog editor will be responsible for all administrative matters including: generating (in collaboration with the substantive editors) and maintaining a schedule of publication, communicating with contributors about all scheduling and administrative matters, copy-editing content, and routing unsolicited and proposed posts from readers to the substantive editors. The blog editor will also do basic trouble-shooting and maintenance on the site and show initiative and creativity in promoting the content through social and traditional media. We particularly welcome applicants with interest and training in our topics who may be able to assume certain more substantive editorial roles, as well as help guide authors on writing in this format, and extending their ideas in other media (both traditional or “new” / “social”).

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Launching 1LPE: A Law and Political Economy Approach to 1L Courses

Isra Syed & Talya Lockman-Fine —

 Many of us came to law school interested in how the law can advance social justice, only to find ourselves disoriented by a 1L curriculum seemingly uninterested (and often hostile) to these questions. We encountered the Coase theorem in torts and Pareto optimality in contracts, but were given no vocabulary to understand the politics underlying these ideas. We were told that matters of economic redistribution were irrelevant to constitutional law, without any rigorous interrogation of why and how this came to be. And we were told that the laws of the market have no bearing on racial and gender equality, despite their tremendous power in ordering modern society.

This experience convinced us that we need other modes of analysis.  For many law students, required core courses – typically including constitutional law, contracts, civil procedure, criminal law, property, and torts – are the first introduction to what the law is and how to understand it. As such, they should be our first entry point into modes of critical analysis of the law in relation to power.

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Sachs & Block on Labor Day

We’re back from our hiatus, and first up, this cross-post from On Labor, about a new blueprint for labor law. Shouldn’t every day be Labor Day?

 

This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform

Benjamin Sachs & Sharon Block —

As divided as we have become as a country, we arrive at this Labor Day with a shared national understanding: both economic and political power are wildly out of balance, with dire consequences for the vast majority of Americans who find themselves on the losing end of this imbalance. Wherever we live, and however we vote, Americans know that both wealth and political influence are now radically concentrated in the hands of a tiny few.

What does economic inequality look like in 2018 America? Here’s an illustration: The average Amazon worker makes about $29,000 per year, while Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, has a net worth of $150 billion. This means it would take an Amazon worker 5 million years, working full time, to earn what Bezos now possesses.

With respect to political inequality, the data is just as stark. Political scientists have shown that the preferences of the vast majority of Americans simply no longer have any impact on what happens in Washington. In fact, when the rich disagree wth the poor and middle class, the path our government takes has nothing to do with what anyone but the rich want.

Why is it important to consider this crisis of inequality on the day we set aside to honor labor?  Because the evisceration of the labor movement is in large measure what got us here, and resuscitating the collective power of workers is what will get us out of this mess.  The more we learn about inequality – both economic and political – the clearer it becomes that the strength of the labor movement is intimately connected with the equality of our nation. Sustain a strong labor movement and you can count on a more equal society. Kill labor and you kill equality.

The question on this Labor Day therefore must be how, in 2018, can we create a new labor movement, one that can unite the interests of a sufficient number of lower and middle income Americans so that they have the power to restore balance to our economy and politics.

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