Legal nihilism

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Legal nihilism is negative attitude toward law.[1] Legal nihilism is "an erosion of the belief in law as a beneficial institution of societal organization."[2] Many scholars believe that legal nihilism is a destructive phenomenon.[3]

Depending on the law it denies, legal nihilism can be internal and international.

Internal legal nihilism[edit]

Russian Empire, Soviet Union and its successors[edit]

Andrzej Walicki thought that both bureaucracy of the Russian Empire and socialists that replaced them had the similar negative attitude toward law because of the Slavic character of Russia.[4] It is believed by many scholars and public figures that legal nihilism is still widely spread in some countries of former Soviet Union including Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.[3] Russian president Medvedev often spoke against legal nihilism identifying increasing of the strength of law and legal awareness of the people.[5][6][7] A pressure of the international public opinion has substantial influence on the struggle against internal legal nihilism in Russia.[8]

International legal nihilism[edit]

International legal nihilism is denial of international law. It can be a consequence of dualist theory that international and national law are independent autonomous systems.[9] Serbian expert in international law Smilja Avramov publicly opposed the practice of Humanitarian interventionism, emphasizing that the main danger for the modern world are not nationalism nor communism but legal nihilism which she thinks is employed during the breakup of Yugoslavia.[10]

NATO and USA[edit]

Jan Nederveen Pieterse believes that the United States is in the position of new universal Empire which succeeds Roman and British, but unlike them, the United States maintains "Pax" not on the basis of the rule of law, but on the rule of power. He also emphasized that breaches of the international law placed United States in the position of "international legal nihilism" and that USA does not recognize other polities as legitimate equals.[11]


  1. ^ The Parker School Journal of East European Law. Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law. 1998. p. 354. Retrieved 27 November 2013. Legal nihilism is such an attitude towards law.
  2. ^ Josef Kohler; Fritz Berolzheimer (1987). Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie. Verlag für Staatswissenschaften und Geschichte. p. 216. Legal nihilism is "an erosion of the belief in law as a beneficial institution of societal organization."
  3. ^ a b Evgenia Ivanova (October 2010). Legal Nihilism as Social and Discursive Practice: The Case of Belarus. VDM Publishing. ISBN 978-3-639-18666-6. Legal nihilism, according to scientists, politicians, journalists and other public figures, is a very destructive, widely spread phenomenon in contemporary Belarus (Russia, Ukraine and some other countries of the former-USSR) and typical for this territory.
  4. ^ Geir Flikke (1994). Democracy or theocracy: Frank, Struve, Berdjaev, Bulgakov, and the 1905 Russian Revolution. Universitetet i Oslo, Slavisk-baltisk avdeling. p. 53. ISBN 978-82-90250-63-3.
  5. ^ Rose Gottemoeller (2008). The U.S.-Russia Civil Nuclear Agreement: A Framework for Cooperation. CSIS. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-89206-535-6. Retrieved 27 November 2013. Medvedev has repeatedly spoken out against "legal nihilism," most recently in his inaugural address, identifying the...
  6. ^ Isaiah "Ike" Wilson III; James J F Forrest (18 December 2008). Handbook of Defence Politics: International and Comparative Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. p. 317. ISBN 978-1-136-63948-7.
  7. ^ Susan Stewart (2012). Presidents, Oligarchs and Bureaucrats: Forms of Rule in the Post-Soviet Space. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4094-1250-2. Retrieved 27 November 2013. Medvedev knows this and he pledges tirelessly to overcome the traditional 'legal nihilism'.
  8. ^ Sudebnik. Simmonds & Hill. 2003. p. 253. This might be the only hope for Russia to get out of the morass of internal legal nihilism.
  9. ^ Valeriĭ Ivanovich Kuzne︠t︡sov; B. R. Tuzmukhamedov (15 June 2009). International Law - A Russian Introduction. Eleven International Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 978-90-77596-76-0. In essence, this leads to a denial of international law, to international-legal nihilism. The dualist theory proceeds from the fact that international and national law belong to autonomous legal systems independent of one another
  10. ^ Avramov, Smilja (June 1999). "Beskrajno lutanje u tami" (in Serbian). Retrieved 26 November 2013. У име “заштите људских права„ на делу је “оружани хуманизам„, у име демократије на делу је “Томахавк демократија„. Опасност по свет не долази од национализма, па ни комунизма, него од правног нихилизма, који је дошао до пуног изражаја у процесу разарања Југославије од 1991. до данас.["Armed humanism" has been introduced in the name of "human rights protection", "Tomahawk democracy" has been introduced in the name of democracy. Main danger for the world does not come from nationalism nor communism, but from legal nihilism, which was fully employed during the process of destruction of Yugoslavia since 1991 until today.] External link in |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ Jan Nederveen Pieterse; Michael D. Giardina; Norman K. Denzin (2007). Contesting Empire, Globalizing Dissent: Cultural Studies After 9/11. Paradigm Publishers. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-59451-197-4. The United States exists in a state of "international legal nihilism" with a steadily growing record of breaches of international law