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In the history of human kind, revolutions have always been necessary to change the Law, the model of social stability. And they have always done it. An example of this is found in the three great Western Revolutions: the French, Russian and American Revolutions . In all of these cases and in many others, social, political and economic change were only possible because of the takeover and radical transformation of the State. The also radical transformation in the Law that occurred during these periods was a direct consequence of the transformation of the State.

From this simple historical verification arises one question: wouldn’t the Law be capable of modifying or allowing the radical modification of a society? The Law would be always subject to a political determinism or an economic superstructure. Would its transformation always be a product of changes in other spheres and never the cause of such changes? Thus, would the Law be predestined to be really the depository of tradition and the instrument of assurance and permanence of a society?


Paper presented as part of the panel on “Revolution by Law?” at SELA 2002 in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on the theme of Law as Object and Instrument of Transformation