Beyond the Law?: The Justice of Deconstruction
Author: Maley W.
Source: Law and Critique, Volume 10, Number 1, 1999 , pp. 49-69(21)
This paper offers a close reading of Derrida's essay ``Force of Law'' that emphasises the twin strengths of a deconstructive approach to questions of law and justice -- textual analysis and political context. Derrida's interest is in limit or test cases, and so he engages with the fraying edges of the law, its borders, the frontiers that are most heavily policed because they are most fragile, for example capital punishment, genocide, general strikes and terrorism. Derrida undertakes an exploration of violence through a reinterpretation of Walter Benjamin's ``Critique of Violence''. At the heart of Derrida's difficult argument is a demand for justice that goes beyond the cataloguing of specific injustices, and beyond the terms of Benjamin's critique. The utopian impulse that underpins ``Force of Law'' is carried over into Specters of Marx, Derrida's recent explicit grappling with the legacy of Marxism. The links between these two texts by Derrida implies a sustained politics of radical commitment on the part of deconstruction, a commitment to future forms of legality and egalitarianism, a theory of justice posited upon prescience rather than precedent.
Keywords: capital punishment; ``Force of Law''; genocide; general strikes; Marxism; Political context; Specters of Marx; terrorism; textual analysis; violence; Walter Benjamin's ``Critique of Violence''
Document Type: Regular paper
Publication date: 1999-01-01