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Emergency-Based Predatory Capitalism: The Rule of Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Development

Ugo Mattei, University of California Hastings College of the Law


In a state of emergency, ordinary political life is suspended. To exit from a state of emergency by curing its causes or addressing its consequences is the “target” constructed as being in the interest of everybody and as the end that everybody must pursue. In a state of emergency, no critique is acceptable, and there is no place for a loyal opposition. Everybody must be on board in pursuit of the target. The state of emergency thus is a desirable condition for power. It is a highly effective way to avoid opposition—perhaps the only effective way in a pluralist political scenario such as a parliamentary democracy or the unstructured global political arena. Thus, the state of emergency is a stabilizing political strategy, a true foundation of “predatory capitalism,” which is how I define the realized form of the current system of global production. In turn, predatory capitalism requires and develops ideological apparatuses to sustain it. A state of emergency thus serves as false consciousness. A thick ideological layer constructs as in the interest of everybody what is in fact a project of domination of the powerful few over the powerless many. In this project, the law serves a double purpose as at the same time a coercive and an ideological apparatus of domination—a stick and a carrot. This essay explores current global developments in which general states of emergency are “invented” or “exaggerated” to sustain legal transformations that, while presented as being in the interest of everybody, cover projects of domination. From the perspective of the law, we will discuss three instances.

Suggested Citation

Ugo Mattei. "Emergency-Based Predatory Capitalism: The Rule of Law, Alternative Dispute Resolution, and Development" 2009
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ugo_mattei/36

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