Law Text Culture


S. L. Schmutz


This paper presents a critique of the political nature of law from a particular viewpoint. A viewpoint articulated by people of various cultural backgrounds against a monomaniac legal standard. This viewpoint has been categorised as the Race Theory Movement and it confirms the thesis that, indeed, law is political. Because, when a critique is categorised as a single issue movement, a dual process begins: the viewpoint is subtly trivialised as limited (eg. according to gender only, or minority only), therefore it is considered to be unimportant to the society at large. At the same time, the dominant legal culture is reinforced as the norm that is natural. A legal culture that embodies white Anglo-Saxon values. The assumption is that law is/should be defined by this dominant ethos. Any other contribution to the development of law in the society is considered to be a mere "sideline" issue. However, the seemingly harmless dominant ethos is, in truth, supportive of "the political reality of power structure [in our legal culture] which disempower[ed] many others in a society" (Bames 1990: 1869).