Law and Politics

Start Free Trial

Marx stated that in a true socialist society, criminal law would not be needed because property would belong to all, thus there would be no urge to rob or steal. How might Marx’s statement conflict with beliefs in a Sacred Law–type nation, like Saudi Arabia? In this context and in general, could the law be as easily dismissed as Marx asserts? Why or why not?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In my view, the law would not be able to be dismissed in any society, not merely one such as that of Saudi Arabia.

None of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) call for an overthrow of the existing social order. Though all of them preach charity and the necessity of trying to alleviate poverty, this does not imply abolishing private property or the systematic redistribution of wealth. So, not only in an explicitly theocratic state would there be resistance to property belonging to all, but in any country where many people are religious believers, there would be strong resistance to eliminating private ownership. Marx evidently believed that religion would pass away eventually after a revolutionary upheaval destroyed the capitalist system. But even in the Soviet Union, the efforts of the rulers could not wipe out religious belief.

But it's not just a question of the influence of religion. Many people today would agree that a society in which there is complete economic equality is a physical impossibility, if not a moral one. This doesn't mean that humanity is fated to end up with an Ayn Rand form of laissez-faire capitalism, but it does mean that what Marx regarded the ultimate, perfect society is unlikely ever to come about, regardless of the influence of strict Sacred Law in Islamic states or any other religious influences.

In the case of Christianity, though Jesus was unenthusiastic (to say the least) about rich people, and though he supported the poor, he nowhere stated that property should be redistributed. Many believers have in fact thought Christianity to endorse capitalism, for several reasons. "The poor you have with you always," Jesus said. In addition, other texts, in particular the Parable of the Talents, have been interpreted as supporting the ambition to become rich. But even if all of this were overturned and there were no private ownership, it wouldn't necessarily follow that no one would ever want to steal or commit other crimes. Laws would thus be essential even in this utopia of Marxian belief.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on