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Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal

ISBN: 978-1-4051-7894-5
296 pages
March 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Plunder: When the Rule of Law is Illegal (1405178949) cover image
Plunder examines the dark side of the Rule of Law and explores how it has been used as a powerful political weapon by Western countries in order to legitimize plunder – the practice of violent extraction by stronger political actors victimizing weaker ones.
  • Challenges traditionally held beliefs in the sanctity of the Rule of Law by exposing its dark side
  • Examines the Rule of Law's relationship with 'plunder' – the practice of violent extraction by stronger political actors victimizing weaker ones – in the service of Western cultural and economic domination
  • Provides global examples of plunder: of oil in Iraq; of ideas in the form of Western patents and intellectual property rights imposed on weaker peoples; and of liberty in the United States
  • Dares to ask the paradoxical question – is the Rule of Law itself illegal?
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Preface.

Introduction.

1. Plunder and The Rule of Law.

An Anatomy of Plunder.

Plunder, Hegemony, and Positional Superiority.

Law, Plunder, and European Expansionism.

Institutionalizing Plunder: The Colonial Relationship and the Imperial Project.

A Story of Continuity: Constructing the Empire of Law (lessness).

2. Neo-liberalism: Economic Engine of Plunder.

The Argentinean Bonanza.

Neo-Liberalism: An Economic Theory of Simplification and a Spectacular Project.

Structural Adjustment Programs and the Comprehensive Development Framework.

Development Frameworks, Plunder, and the Rule of Law.

3. Before Neo-Liberalism: a Story of Western Plunder.

The European Roots of Colonial Plunder.

The Fundamental Structure of US Law as a Post-Colonial Reception.

A Theory of Lack, Yesterday and Today.

Before Neo-Liberalism: Colonial Practices and Harmonious Strategies—Yesterday and Now.

4. Plunder of Ideas and the Providers of Legitimacy.

Hegemony and legal Consciousness.

Intellectual Property as Plunder of Ideas.

Providing Legitimacy: Law and Economics.

Providing Legitimacy: Lawyers and Anthropologists.

5. Constructing the Conditions for Plunder.

Plunder of Oil: Iraq and Elsewhere.

The New World Order of Plunder.

Not Only Iraq: Plunder, War, and Legal Ideologies of Intervention.

Institutional Lacks as Conditions for Plunder: Real or Created?.

Double Standards Policy and Plunder.

Poverty: Justification for Intervention and Consequence of Plunder.

6. International Imperial Law.

Reactive Institutions of Imperial Plunder.

U.S. Rule of Law: Forms of Global Domination.

The Globalization of the American Way.

An Ideological Institution of Global Governance: International Law.

Holocaust Litigation: Back to the Future.

The Swallowing of International Law by U.S. law.

Economic Power and the U.S. Courts as Imperial Agencies.

7. Hegemony and Plunder. The Demise of the Rule of Law in the United States.

Strategies to Subordinate the Rule of Law to Plunder.

Plunder in High Places: Enron and its Aftermath.

Plunder in Even Higher Places: Electoral Politics and Plunder.

Plunder of Liberty: The War on Terror.

Plunder Undisrupted: The Discourse of Patriotism.

8. Beyond an Illegal Rule of Law?.

Summing Up: Plunder and The Global Transformation of the Law.

Imperial Rule of Law or the People's Rule of Law.

The Future of Plunder.

Notes to Text.

Selected Further Reading.

Documentary Film Resources.

Index

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Ugo Mattei is Distinguished Professor of International and Comparative Law at University of California, Hastings and at the University of Turin, Italy. He is a widely published scholar in economic and political aspects of law and his work has been translated into many languages. His professional activities have included substantive periods of teaching and research in Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

Laura Nader is Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley and is possibly the leading world authority in Anthropology of Law. She has conducted fieldwork in Lebanon, Mexico, and the US and her groundbreaking work on harmony ideology and access to law and her unmatchable publication list make Nader one of the most interesting voices in the current academic scene.

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  • Challenges traditionally held beliefs in the sanctity of the Rule of Law by exposing its dark side
  • Examines the Rule of Law's relationship with 'plunder' – the practice of violent extraction by stronger political actors victimizing weaker ones – in the service of Western cultural and economic domination
  • Provides global examples of plunder: of oil in Iraq; of ideas in the form of Western patents and intellectual property rights imposed on weaker peoples; and of liberty in the United States
  • Dares to ask the paradoxical question – is the Rule of Law itself illegal?
See More
"Plunder is a detailed, well written autopsy of how law and our legal system further strengthens the already powerful, while decimating those already located outside the reach of power. In the world of the post-economic collapse, Plunder is a painfully frightening roadmap decrying the dangers of the exact "legal" practices (derivatives, call options, etc.) that brought on the current economic crisis."  (Multinational Monitor, Jan - Feb 2009)

“Mattei and Nader note how win-win situations as ostensibly promoted by Alternative Dispute Resolution practices are in fact harmony ideologies that ‘may be used to suppress people's resistance, by socializing them toward conformity by means of consensus, cooperation, passivity, and docility, and by silencing people who speak out angrily." (Swans Commentary)

"Without doubt this is an important book … Mattei and Nader have produced a courageous, intellectually refined, and superbly critical book about one of the main instruments of society-building in our culture. The book should find a wide audience in law classes, and in graduate courses of sociology, anthropology, and political sciences." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)

"Richly textured and strikingly original, Plunder draws on history, communication theory, and political analysis to show how U.S. policy expands influence and raids the pocketbooks of weaker nations. Even if we do not call it by its old name--imperialism--but globalization, free trade, or spreading democracy, the result is the same. And at the heart of this aggressively acquisitive policy lies a crown jewel of Enlightenment thought, the rule of law. A gripping read."
Richard Delgado, University of Pittsburgh

"This is a provocative, courageous, and path-breaking expose of the dark side of ‘the rule of law’, by two authors of wide-ranging practical experience and theoretical insight."
George Bisharat, University of California, Hasting College of the Law

"Plunder is the powerful product of interdisciplinary research that reveals how international law has become not an instrument of protecting the weak against the strong, but a means of legitimizing and enriching the powerful."
David H. Price, Saint Martin’s University

"Ugo Mattei and Laura Nader are advancing a profoundly disturbing message. The ‘rule of law’ is not only a barrier to achieving a just society, but an ideological mechanism for subjugating peoples and imposing injustice. I am impressed by their insights and especially by their courage."
William Greider, author, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy

"Through a sweeping exploration of global processes from colonialism to neo-liberalism, Plunder offers an eye-opening look at the “dark side” of the rule of law. This powerful and disturbing analysis of the ways law has legitimated and facilitated the appropriation of knowledge and property challenges widespread views of the law."
Sally Engle Merry, New York University

"A lucid and implacable analysis of the crucial relationship between law and life in the age of global capitalism. A beam of harsh light on the murky area where the rule of law comes into contact with and is shaped by power, violence and abuse."
Aldo Schiavone, Istituto Studi Umanistici 

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