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“A Very Eden of the Innate Rights of Man”? A Marxist Look at the European Union Treaties and Case Law

  • Gustav Peebles

Abstract

In this paper I approach the European Union Treaties (Rome and Maastricht) and the European Court of Justice's jurisprudence from a Marxist standpoint. I argue that the treaties and case law of the European Union (EU) revolve around the rights of things (commodities), rather than of people. People primarily gain rights within the EU by demonstrating that they embody exchange value and are therefore personified commodities; people are not accorded rights merely for being human. In essence, the treaties and case law have enshrined Marx's notion of commodity fetishism, which Marx asserted to be a social mystification, into transparent law. Focusing on the grand scheme of the treaties' jurisdiction in this manner also illuminates the role of the court as it struggles to balance the demands of capital's self-valorization with fundamental human rights. I then consider the consequences of this balancing act for the EU integration process. I argue that this phenomenon as a whole also carries implications for EU civil society and for notions of legal equality among persons.

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“A Very Eden of the Innate Rights of Man”? A Marxist Look at the European Union Treaties and Case Law

  • Gustav Peebles

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