From amongst legal theories of Socialisms’ Marxism, Hungarian scholarship played a rather balancing role all along. Characterised by dialogue and successful mediation, it strove to take a middle-of-the-road stance within the Socialist orbit. It took the professional requirements of scholarship rather seriously within the bounds of feasibility at varying times. Under restrictive conditions and despite ideological dictates, it filled a fermentative role. All in all, it made both (1) the sociological approach and (2) the historico-comparative perspective accepted in the Socialist world by transcending legal positivism and especially “Socialist normativism”, on the one hand, and by breaking out from domestic/regional self-seclusion, on the other. Moreover, it (3) introduced the ontological perspective, built upon the epistemological perspective, exclusive till then, and thereby it could attribute ontic significance to the self-explanation and self-representation of different legal cultures, usually treated as having merely an ideological importance; and (4) by developing a law and modernisation theory, it could address Central and Eastern Europe in a responsive way. The overview starting by assessing the legacy in the end of WWII concludes in a parallel characterisation of the state of scholarship and its achievements throughout the countries concerned by the end of the Soviet rule. Through and owing to all this, the Hungarian pattern offered a relatively near-to-optimum alternative, a kind of optimality in its solutions and responses.
The fate of Marxism in the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies as the former’s extension owing to post-WWII occupation was from the beginning sealed by Bolshevism, that is, the politico-ideological domination and use of the scholarly domain as well, made to self-close in a merely justificatory role. There may have been attempts at opening, even if only conceivable within—i.e. preserving at the same time—this framework function. In the present conspectus, the limiting positions are occupied by the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, completed by after-1968 Czechoslovakia, as well as Yugoslavia and pre-1968 Czechoslovakia, representing the substitute-to-religion dogmatic side, exclusively politically motivated in the former and subordinated to a humanising tendency in the latter case, on the one hand, and Poland, dedicated to a purely analytical approach, in which Marxism has simply no relevance, on the other. Hungary, treated in an earlier paper by the author, was in-between, taking Marxism seriously but mostly as a methodology, and thereby able to foster live debates. All that notwithstanding, there has been quite a few progressive moves also in Romania and Bulgaria in this specific academic field. Turning topoi of the discussions were, chronologically but recurrent transubstantiatedly, the exclusivity of Vyshinsky’s socialist normativism, the consequences ensuing from the law’s superstructural nature, the discontinuity vs. continuity of law in historical development, and, in the background, the dilemma of the ontological/epistemological understanding of Marxism, the latter standing for a rigid Leninist reducibility of law to its material substratum as the product of sheer reflection, and the former enabling to develop the law’s relative autonomy as in Lukács’ posthumous ontology. On the final analysis, all these forced paths made a whole region’s efforts to be belated as compared to international developments, the fact notwithstanding those outstanding achievements were born especially on the fields of legal ontology and sociology, as well as the legal methodology and particularly that of the comparison of laws.
By the fall of Communism, also the past of Central and Eastern Europe is mostly hold eradicated, albeit it cannot but steadily survive in sublated mentality. On the field of l aw, this is expressed by the continuity of text-centrism in approach to law, with the law’s application following the law’s letters in a quasi-mechanical way. Consequently, what used to be legal nihilism in the Socialist regime has turned into the law’s textual fetishism in the meantime. This is equal to saying that facing the dilemma of weighing between apparently contradictory ideals within the same Rule of Law, justice has in fact been sacrificed to the certainty in/of the law in the practical working of the judiciary. Especially, constitutional adjudication mostly works for the extension of individual rights while the state as the individuals’ community is usually blocked in responding challenges in an operative manner. Situation in Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Baltic Republics, as well as Croatia is surveyed through a series of case studies in order to show degrees and variations of worsening. Softening the law by activating juridical inventiveness was used to be pressed on the region during her preparation to accession, a practice that has now been counteracted by stiffening hard law anew. In either case, on the last resort, phase-lag of juridical mentality in the region may have been at stake, preserved at the stage what Western Europe could develop into when reconstruction after the end of WWII started. For post-war West’s new joiners in approach and methodology — like (1) natural law considerations; (2) balancing among interests through assessing them in light of general principles and clauses, either of the law or implied by its underlying legal culture; as well as (3) constitutionalisation of issues — have remained mostly esoteric ideas, alien in mass to the region in question. The damage this condition may cause by cumulation is an added burden on the popular receptivity of catch-words heralded, among other ideals, by the Rule of Law.
Since the waning of the world concept offered by classical physics, law is seen as embodied less by material objects any longer than in a specific way of thinking. Consequently, the normativist perspective of legal positivism is also getting replaced by the comprehension of law in context of culture and tradition.In its own context, any of the terms of 'system', 'family' or 'culture' can be applied independently from each other but it is to be noted that 'tradition' is at the same time both a part and a given path of culture. In legal thought, concrete and generalising (abstract) ways of thinking are equally recoursed to, just as types which search for a solution either in the case's terms in its entirety or in the exclusive bounds of the given normative conceptual framework. It is only Western law that has become differentiated out of the rest, when individualism advanced and thinking in term of subjective rights grew into a dominant pattern, contrasted to our primitive (albeit surviving) approach to law which also expects, in addition to external conformity, the realisation of the law's internal ethos based on own initiative. English law, however, has revealed its face only gradually, as it has factual decisions made through an only-processually-arranged laic (jury) process while it has bound the declaration of what the law is to such facts of the cases among which no logical relationship can be established. In Civil Law, the treatment of adjudication as argumentation, and in Common Law, as practical reasoning, led the judicial process into a sphere only smoothly controllable by logic. Jewish and Islamic laws accept contradictory arguments from the outset. As to Indian and Far-Eastern cultures, they reject even the underlying questionto be raised. This way, in legal problem-solving the assessment of the merits of the caseandthe recourse to a reductive procedure can complement one another on the basis of some compromise. Institutionalisation itself is, as it channels the legal problem-solving to givenpaths, a function of a previously formed idea of order, of a given mentality. Our legaltheorising today is built mostly separatedly either on the classification and interpretation of facts or on the re-conventionalisation of the philosophical generalisation of concepts, with little interaction between the two types of approaches and research attitudes. Therefore, in order to encourage debate and commensurability, it is important that notions of law, at least tacitly assumed to substantiate their choices of subject, are clarified.
The core of codification is invariably the idea of a system in the law's composition and structuring, doctrinal reflection and conceptual building up, including judicial reference to codal definitions as well. Or, codification is (1) an exclusive body of law (2) implementing unity in its regulatory field (3) with logical coherence and consequentiality. The dream of a common European codification penetrates into the very heart of the law, presupposing the unification of all the intellectuality and underlying approach that has ever distinguished Civil Law and Common Law. The more the advancement of the European unification progresses, the more inverse the assessment of European codification becomes, making us its past trends, values and regulatory techniques reconsidered. That is, as if we on the Continent had not so much become statal national units unified by a sequence of national laws but, being too conceited of our most promising collective heritage within the transitory phase of an infantile disorder, became rather fragmented in national isolation from one another, which now comes eventually to a final end.
Lawis characterised by a fundamental gap between its social embeddedness and theapparently formal automatism it operates, which gap is basically bridged by thelaw's ultimate practicality under the guise of its mere logicity. This seemingcontradiction is resolved by judicial decisions as responsible and responsivepractical actions which are to result from the necessary conceptualtransformation(s) of the law's wording in the course of its officialapplication, which does involve a necessary jump in logical derivation. This isto say that on final analysis and inpractical terms, law is what gets actualised through the actual uses of it. Black-box effect such as this is helped by thevariety-and owing to the magical transforming effects-of legal techniques.Eventually, it is legal culture that provides a medium in which legaltechniques can at all be selected and used. On a conceptual plane, one of thefilters is offered by legal dogmatics. This very complex includes dialectics aswell, for there is no motion without counter-motion, therefore, it is notrealistic to pursue any human ambition without some safety valves inserted. Or,regarding, e.g., law, no homogenisationis feasible without some re-heterogenisation at the same time. Paradoxicallyspeaking, while modern formal legal development went in the direction tomechanise the judge, the realisation was also made that law had ever been tooserious an undertaking to be just left alone to the logification by someimpersonally formalistic apparatus. Therefore, simultaneously with the veryfirst act of formalisation, law has ever built in its scheme the possibility ofde-formalisation as well.
‘Comparative law’ was born to challenge national self-centredness at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, without transcending—notwithstanding its admission of social and cultural-historical approaches in the study of law—the perspectives of rule-positivism. ‘Comparative legal cultures’ attempts at explaining the prevailing cultural and traditional diversity that has generated, among others, western law with its modern formalism and the alternative ways of reaching social order in other cultures. By its focus upon the underlying culture and, thereby, also upon the hermeneutic understanding of legal phenomena, the latter is expected to offer growingly adequate responses to timely questions such as the universalisability of law and human rights, the convergence of the continental Civil Law and the British Common Law, or the development and future of the legal set-up in the Central and Eastern European region.The interest of the comparative study of legal cultures is thus one in the history of ideas, dedicated to human problem-solving as the cultural response of people to external challenges. For the description of living complexes in terms of mere rules can result at most in ‘thin description’ with the exclusion of ‘thick description’, the more so as rules (just as concepts) are only the consequences of a kind of possible representation, therefore, relying exclusively upon them may contribute to dissolving even prevailing interrelations, atomising organic components as fragmented into detached elements. Or, institutional thinking not-withstanding, not even the subject’s formalism can serve as a ground for restricting human completeness and integrity, cultural diversity, as well as responsibility to be taken for these.
A theoretically motivated reasoning leaving its mark on legal dogmatics producing some derivative through a methodical process, the doctrinal study of law is a parasite contingent upon the law in force. For it converts law positedly built by consecutive structuring of words into some sort of a uniform conceptual system. Therefore it is an authored product mostly in a historical chain. Its novelty is lending logicality to what is inadvertent itself. As a reconstruction providing logically added meaning to a subject not carrying this itself, it too is contingent with by chance variations competing amongst themselves. Its goal is to establish consequentiality for deductive derivations in order to guarantee certainty in/of the law. Consequently, in arrangements without conceptualization there is no dogmatics either. In European history, the continental tradition has retraced
for the law to be embodied by posited texts. Dogmatics is a meta-structure logified upon them.