Proactive law and reactive law: transformation of legal systems in the face of great challenges

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Author: Vladimir Przhilenskiy

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2020-5-39-55

Keywords: big challenges; goal setting; law-making; proactive law; reactive law; values


The paper substantiates the thesis that the distinction between proactive and the reactive rulemaking [lawmaking] becomes much more distinct and significant in crisis periods of societal development. In such periods, when social systems face huge challenges, the corresponding transformation of legal systems either follows the logic of preserving existing institutions and values (reactive law), – alternatively – goal-setting is based on lawmaking aimed at transforming the social reality (proactive law). Both proactive and reactive lawmaking can come into conflict with the existing constitution, moving society to change it by bringing it into compliance with changed goals and values or changed social realities. In this regard, the fundamental differences between proactive law and reactive law are determined, based on the necessity of introducing these understandings into the conceptual space of social legal analysis. In addition, the concept of anticipatory rulemaking, which has become widespread in Russian legal publications, is analyzed, and the irrelevance thereof to the purposes of the research in question is shown. The concept of proactive law is analyzed in more detail and depth, resulting in identification and description of two main types of this kind of rulemaking. The first type, called pragmatic proactive law, is rulemaking based on practical objectives. This type is characterized by an intention to change social reality without affecting the values of the society being reformed through development and adoption of new laws. Unlike the first one, the second type is initiated by a process of value reassessment and abandonment of old ideals in favor of new ones. The desire to restore the lost correlation between the system of values and social practices gives birth to ethico-teleological proactive law or value-based rulemaking. The transformations in legal systems during the last decade are further considered and analyzed in the context of the major challenges whose impact entails the need to choose between proactive and reactive rulemaking, and – in the instance of proactive rulemaking – gives rise to a dichotomy of the pragmatic-goal-oriented type and the value-based type. It is concluded that it is necessary to include a conceptual-and-methodological model of analysis in the toolkit of analysis of the lawmaking policy of present-day Russia, especially in evaluating the consistency of innovations with constitutional identity.

About the author: Vladimir Przhilenskiy – Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of the Department of Philosophy and Sociology, Kutafin State Law University, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Przhilenskiy V. (2020) Pravo proaktivnoe i pravo reaktivnoe: transformatsiya natsional'nykh pravovykh sistem v usloviyakh bol'shikh vyzovov [Proactive law and reactive law: transformation of legal systems in the face of great challenges]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol.29, no.5, pp.39–55. (In Russian).


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