Globalisation, Lawyers and the State

Only recently has the Pakistan state been confronted by mass lawyer resistance. That resistance was so widespread and spontaneous, involving so many respected members of the community, that it was impossible to contain. At first the Musharraf regime sought to brazen out the protests over the suspension of the Chief Justice. This was similar to what had happened after the military coup led by Musharraf, but at that time they were strong enough to prevail. This time the regime was far weaker politically and had to resile from his decision. His later attempt to “pack” the top echelons of the judiciary was a desperate measure and a significant factor in his loss of control of the Parliament.

Conclusion

In contemporary conditions of global competition, resultant increasing inequality and mass poverty even amidst “economic growth”, such contradiction presents a potential political crisis. Many countries are faced with internal conflicts and mass popular alienation which fuels resistance to state policies and practices.

The law is a central mechanism for regulation of the social relations of daily existence as well as the socio- political, economic relations of corporate capital. It is therefore not surprising that some sections of the legal profession are being drawn into confrontation with the state. They have a particular commitment to social justice and experience in fighting for it alongside the people. In addition to a general commitment to the rule of law, they have today an awareness of, and experience in, human rights activism.

As the state reveals an inability to resolve the inherent contradictions of the neo-liberal agenda to which most have been committed, then resistance from many sectors of class-divided societies will continue to arise. We have tried to indicate some of the elements to be considered in the analysis of lawyer resistance in the face of repressive state activity. Such resistance will be increasingly vital in the difficult conditions confronting many countries today. In such circumstances, we ought to keep in mind the likely tendency of state practice in extremis, failing committed resistance from a strong civil society including, importantly, lawyers:

‘As the ship-of-state is sinking, the ideology of liberalism, and civil and human rights, are thrown overboard like awkward ballast. Peaceful demonstrations and sharpening class antagonisms are met with the full force of state power, people’s democratic rights are abolished, and uncooperative nations become targets for military intervention’.23

4 See Jonathan Black (ed) Radical Lawyers (1971); Robert Lefcourt (ed) Law Against the People (1971). See generally, David Weisbrot, Australian lawyers (1990) Chaps 2,3. See also regarding Australia, Stan Ross, Politics of Law Reform (1982) and Stan Ross and Mark Weinberg (eds) Law for the People (1976).

5 See Micheline R Ishay, History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Era of Globalisation (2004). See generally Micheline R Ishay (ed) The Human Rights Reader 2d ed (2007). And see Nick O’Neill, Simon Rice, Roger Douglas, Retreat From Injustice: human rights law in Australia (2002).

6 On conceptions of non-traditional lawyering, see generally Maureen Cain and Christine B Harrington (eds) Lawyers in a Postmodern World (1994) Chaps 1-3,11.

REFERENCES

1 See eg Maureen Cain, ‘The Symbol Traders’ in Maureen Cain and Christine B Harrington (eds) Lawyers In A Postmodern World (1994) 15-48. See generally on law and lawyers, Yash Ghai, Robin Luckham, Francis Snyder (eds) The Political Economy of Law: A Third World Reader (1987).

2 See eg Anthony Woodiwiss, Globalisation, human rights and labour law in Pacific Asia (1998);Janet Dine and Andrew Fagan, Human Rights and capitalism: a multidisciplinary perspective on globalisation (2006);Jianfu Chen and Gordon Walker, Balancing Act: law, policy and politics in globalisation and global trade; Koen de Feyter, Human Rights; social justice in the age of the market (2005).

3 See Spyros Sakellaropoulos, ‘Towards a Declining State? The Rise of the Headquarters State’ (2007) 71(1) Science and Society 7-32. He argues that the state has been transformed, hiving off and/or reducing its social functions, and becoming more authoritarian. We argue that this calls forth resistance which increasingly involves lawyers in political struggle.

4 See Jonathan Black (ed) Radical Lawyers (1971); Robert Lefcourt (ed) Law Against the People (1971). See generally, David Weisbrot, Australian lawyers (1990) Chaps 2,3. See also regarding Australia, Stan Ross, Politics of Law Reform (1982) and Stan Ross and Mark Weinberg (eds) Law for the People (1976).

5 See Micheline R Ishay, History of Human Rights: From Ancient Times to the Era of Globalisation (2004). See generally Micheline R Ishay (ed) The Human Rights Reader 2d ed (2007). And see Nick O’Neill, Simon Rice, Roger Douglas, Retreat From Injustice: human rights law in Australia (2002).

6 On conceptions of non-traditional lawyering, see generally Maureen Cain and Christine B Harrington (eds) Lawyers in a Postmodern World (1994) Chaps 1-3,11.

7 See ‘Lawyers protest against Musharraf’ BBC News 12 March 2007, K Ratnayake and Keith Jones, ‘Mounting calls from Pakistan’s military and judicial establishments for Musharraf to quit’ 2 February 2008, www.wsws.org/articles/2008/feb2008/paki-f02_prn.shtml.

8 See ‘Hero’s welcome for defiant judge’ Sydney Morning Herald 7May 2007; Medea Benjamin,‘Who Is Defending Pakistan’s Democracy? Not the Politicians, It’s the Judges’ 29 November 2007, www.alternet.org/story/69164/. Wrangling between the major parties over the conditions of reinstatement further stained the reputation of the politicians, see ‘Irate Chaudry set to refuse job’ Sydney Morning Herald 10 May 2008, 14.

9 For a full set of references to the French lawyers’ struggle, largely from the French media, see Stuart Russell, ‘French lawyers take to the barricades” unpublished memo, 6 January 2008 (available from the author: jsrussell301254@hotmail.com). The conflicts within the legal professions in our study have not been discussed but certainly need to be acknowledged. The French case is well demonstrated by the repressive role played by the criminal courts in response to rioting in the poor suburbs of Paris. See Alex Lantier, ‘France:drumhead tribunals and threats of police state repression’ 30 November 2007: www.wsws.org/articles/2007/nov2007/fran-n30_prn.shtml; Antoine Lerougetel, ‘France: A sharp increase in police repression’ 20 December 2007: www.wsws.org/articles/2007/dec2007/fran-d20_prn.shtml.

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