Main topic

LAW AND POLITICS

REFLECTIONS ON LEGAL NIHILISM

Abstract

In the text of the paper, legal nihilism is understood as a selective, arbitrary and informal political-command implementation of law that results in its abuse. Political actors, judicial officials and citizens are detected as legal nihilists and all of them are characterized by deficient legal consciousness, which is reflected in the disrespect or relativization of legal norms and values incorporated into them. Following theoretical considerations of legal nihilism as a manifestation of non-legal consciousness, the practical side of this phenomenon is portrayed primarily through the Russian and secondarily through the Serbian archetype. It is concluded that legal nihilism occurs in the contexts of legal uncertainty, authoritarian tendencies, and omnipresent political-cultural matrix. Paradigmatic examples include Russia and Serbia as states where the rule of law and the ethos of civic obligations have never truly taken root.

Legal nihilism turns the judiciary into a politically dependent category that circumvents the juridical logic. The criminal, political, corrupt and informal behavior of the justice deliberator is manifested in all sorts of manifestations such as the de facto purchase of court decisions, selective and false investigations (false suing, prosecution of innocents) and prosecutor’s failure to act.

Reducing nihilistic sentiment primarily depends on decision makers’ capacity to build institutions of trust, credibility and integrity. The contribution of citizens as private actors who will refrain from seeking rents as well as public officials seeking a bribe following the process of democratization should not be ignored. When the order to invest in legal activities comes to life, legal nihilism will be consequently reduced, as “the most unpleasant of all guests”.

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PERIODICS Serbian Political Thought 2/2020 2/2020 УДК 340.131:323.23 345-359
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