The limits of liberal justice: an exploration of liberalism's production of conflict through the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

Garrett, Edward (1998) The limits of liberal justice: an exploration of liberalism's production of conflict through the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This thesis aims to give a certain understanding of liberal justice. It argues that such a system of justice cannot provide the structure for stability and inclusion that its supporters claim for it; rather, it is suggested here, it is committed to conflict and exclusion. This position is developed through consideration of a recent piece of legislation, namely section 5 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994. This Act criminalised various activities associated particularly with travellers, environmental protesters, squatters and festival-goers. It is argued that the criminalisation of these social groupings is not in some sense a failure of liberalism, but is rather central to its self-definition.

The argument is divided into three sections. It is initially developed through conceiving the problem as being a dispute over access to and use of land. The Act strengthens private
property rights in land by criminalising specific activities which take place on that land. I attempt a reconciliation between the two sides through a consideration of liberal private property theory's possible compatibility with hypothetical demands of the groups targetted by the Act. This consideration particularly focusses on the libertarian theorists, Nozick, Narveson and Steiner. The conclusions to this discussion are somewhat confused.

Thus to understand how this section of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act may be typical of liberal justice it is situated within a broader discussion of liberal theory. Rawls and Hayek are of primary interest in this second section. Through this discussion, in particular of the conception of the self basic to liberal justice, an understanding is gained of how liberal justice may be committed to criminalising and therefore excluding some social groupings. Using some ideas from Foucault we then see how this process of criminalisation may be applicable to understanding the legislation under consideration. Furthermore this understanding extends further the reading of the conflict and exclusion inherent in liberal
justice more generally.

The fmal chapter suggests the beginnings of ways towards a more genuinely inclusive political society. Most specifically it argues that the problem that the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act raises can only be addressed through a more wide-reaching system of public property.

In this work I rely on a wide range of sources. Some of these have been given above. I also draw heavily on parliamentary debates and newspaper and magazine articles. It should not be concluded from this that my purpose is to give an empirical analysis of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Rather it is through taking certain angles on this Act that understanding of liberal justice can be deepened.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
Item ID: 13628
Depositing User: Adam Miller
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2015 14:55
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:46

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