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Grietje Baars book launch
Grietje Baars
Politics & Law Series: Announcements

The Corporation, Law and Capitalism: A Radical Perspective on the Role of Law in the Global Political Economy

Eminent law academics gather to discuss new book authored by The City Law School’s Dr Grietje Baars

by Sophie Cubbin (PR and Communications Manager)

Dr Grietje Baars, Senior Lecturer at the City Law School has launched their book, The Corporation, Law and Capitalism: A Radical Perspective on the Role of Law in the Global Political Economy.

The monograph, published by Brill in March 2019, provides a thorough theoretical exposition of the relationship between law and capital and shatters the illusion that we can use law to restrain corporate capitalism.

At the event to mark its publication, panel member Susan Marks, Professor of International Law at London School of Economics described the book as phenomenal and riffed off its historical themes.

Dan Danielsen, Professor of Law at Northeastern University in the United States, highlighted the radical core questions of the book that should change the way all legal scholars think about their work.

Dr Emily Jones, Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Essex, commended the book's queer quality and evident political commitment.

The audience discussion involved several eminent scholars including Professor Horatia Muir Watt of Sciences Po (Paris), Professor David Kennedy (Harvard Law School, IGLP), Bill Bowring (Birkbeck Law), Mijke van der Drift (Goldsmiths), legal practitioners and many City, University of London colleagues including Dr Jed Odermatt who chaired proceedings.

Corporate accountability in question

In the book, Dr Baars offers a radical Marxist perspective on the role of law in the global political economy. Closing a major gap in historical-materialist scholarship, they demonstrate how the corporation, capitalism’s main engine from city-state and colonial times to the present multinational, is a masterpiece of legal technology.

The symbiosis between law and capital becomes acutely apparent in the question of ‘corporate accountability’. Baars provides a detailed analysis of corporate human rights and war crimes trials, from the Nuremberg industrialists’ trials to current efforts.

The book shows that precisely because of law’s relationship to capital, law cannot prevent or remedy the ‘externalities’ produced by corporate capitalism.

Dr Baars explained the origins of the book and its content:

This book started with Joel Bakan’s The Corporation (the film and the book), which echoed many of the experiences of the relationship between capital and law I had had as a commercial solicitor in the City of London and which led to my return to academia.

It is my aim to show how a historical-materialist approach to business and human rights, and to ‘corporate accountability’, can offer a critical, analytical, ‘real world’ perspective.  Moreover, I hope that it will give impetus and affirmation to those seeking to change the world beyond law, in spite of law, and, ultimately, against law.

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