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Fourteen - Law and Revolution in Portugal: Experiences of Popular Justice after the Carnation Revolution of 1974

from Part Five - Real Legal Utopias: Interrupting the Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2023

Boaventura de Sousa Santos
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
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Summary

In this and the following chapters, I analyse several attempts to interrupt the abyssal nature of modern law emerging from my previous research on sociology of law. I try to identify the reasons why most of such attempts failed or are about to fail. This chapter analyses the phenomenon of popular justice in Portugal during the revolutionary crisis that became known as the 25 April Revolution or Carnation Revolution. During the course of the revolutionary crisis (April 1974-November 1975) many popular movements emerged. They differed in terms of social objectives, strategy and tactics, organisational strength, degree of control by formal political organisations, and other factors, but shared the same class composition: the urban or rural working class (and occasionally the peasantry) allied themselves with radicalised sectors of the urban petty bourgeoisie. As these movements emerged during a revolutionary crisis, all of them questioned the legitimacy of the capitalist state. Popular justice in Portugal after 25 April 1974 involved a wide range of actions varying in political scope, the degree and type of popular mobilisation and internal organisation, and the level of confrontation with official justice. As a descriptive strategy, the range of cases and situations may be grouped into two categories: the struggle for the redefinition of criminal justice, and the struggle for the right to decent housing. Within each category, I begin with a brief narrative of cases that relate more or less remotely to the concept of popular justice and then concentrate my analysis on the most representative examples. Were there failed attempts at post-abyssal legality?

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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