Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

George Washington International Law Review

Publication Date



In response to the American invasion of Iraq, a group of prominent European legal scholars convened a symposium to explore the causes of the “material economic woes of international society.” A revised and expanded version of that Symposium, including five new essays, was published by Cambridge, International Law on the Left: Re-examining the Marxist Legacies (Susan Marks, ed. 2008).

In What’s Left? I review the provocative, scholarly, and occasionally electrifying essays in this volume in two parts, each addressing a version of the question, “What’s Left?” Part I asks, “What‘s ‘Left?” That is, is there a coherent Left in international law and, if so, what does it look like?

Part II asks, “What’s left?” in the sense, “What remains?” This Part has two sections. First, what remains of the Marxist legacies after the Cold War and the implosion of the Soviet Union? Second, more poignantly, “What’s left?” of what Martti Koskenniemi calls “international law’s emancipatory promise?”

Part III zooms out from the intimate scale of intercountry adoption, and the broader but still insistently human scale of human rights, to situate the preceding genealogies within the massive project of globalized neoliberalism. It tracks the genealogy of neoliberalism, from its intellectual origins, through the Washington Consensus, up through the global recession and the shaky recovery

The global economic crisis makes this review especially timely. As the President promises to reduce economic inequality, this rigorous reassessment of Marxism by a new generation of theorists is both useful and illuminating.


A review of International Law on the Left: Re-Examining Marxist Legacies by Susan Marks

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