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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Marxist and Soviet law in relation to criminal law. It begins by providing an overview of Marxism and a Marxist critique of law prior to the Russian Revolution, with particular reference to the place of criminal law in the writings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. It then considers three main trends in the development of criminal law theory in the Soviet Union and their impact on Soviet criminal codes and overall Soviet criminal policy: “Marxist” radical utopian minimalism, “enemy criminal law” aimed at consolidating the rule of the Communist Party, and the “socialist rule of law” under the reign of Joseph V. Stalin. The chapter also discusses the general principles of Soviet criminal law that make it distinct from Western criminal law systems, focusing on areas such as judicial discretion, actus reus and social dangerousness, mens rea, inchoate crimes and accomplice liability, and punishment.

Keywords: Soviet law, criminal law, Marxism, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, judicial discretion, inchoate crimes, punishment, Soviet Union

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