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Christoph Menke in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers
Editor: Christoph Menke

This book focuses on the paradoxical character of law and specifically concerns the structural violence of law as the political imposition of normative order onto a "lawless" condition. The paradox of law which grounds and motivates Christoph Menke's intervention is that law is both the opposite of violence and, at the same time, a form of violence. The book develops its engagement with the paradox of law in two stages. The first shows why, and in what precise sense, the law is irreducibly characterized by structural violence. The second explores the possibility of law becoming self-reflectively aware of its own violence and, hence, of the form of a self-critique of law in view of its own violence. The Book's philosophical claims are developed through analyses of works of drama: two classical tragedies in the first part and two modern dramas in the second part. It attempts to illuminate the paradoxical nature of law by way of a philosophical interpretation of literature. There are at least two normative orders within the European ethical horizon that should be called "legal orders" even though they forego the use of coercion and are thus potentially nonviolent. These are international law and Jewish law. Understanding the relationship between law and violence is one of the most urgent challenges a postmodern critical legal theory faces today. Self-reflection, the philosophical concept that plays a key role in the essay, stands opposed to all forms of spontaneity.

Towards a re-thinking of legal justice in transitional justice contexts
María del Rosario Acosta López

the violence of the law. So, on the one hand, such a philosophical critique has 80 80 Responses had as its main task a conceptual analysis that can effectively make visible the violent structures that lie at the ground not only of specific political and historical forms of the law as right, but moreover, of the law as a concept, that is, of the very form of the law. On the other hand, by bringing these structures to light and, more importantly, by making them intelligible, such an inquiry seeks to produce alternative modes of resistance to the law, showing the

in Law and violence
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Christoph Menke

3 1 Law and violence Christoph Menke (Translated by Gerrit Jackson) Preface Any attempt to understand the relation between law and violence must begin with two observations that are at odds with each other, if not even contradictory. The first observation is that law is the opposite of violence; legal forms of decision-​making are introduced to disrupt the endless sequence of violence and counterviolence and counter-​ counterviolence, which is to say, to dispel the compulsion to answer violence with new violence. The second observation is that law is itself

in Law and violence
Andreas Fischer- Lescano

the Institut für Sozialforschung in Frankfurt, reflections on legal issues were peripheral to the social theory of the first generation of critical theory. Legal scholars such as Wolfgang Abendroth, Otto Kirchheimer, and Franz L.  Neumann were never members of the Institute’s inner core, and the leading authors of critical theory did not dedicate particular attention to the analysis of legal form, with the notable exception of Erich Fromm’s dissertation.1 That changed with the second generation of critical theorists. Jürgen Habermas and Ingeborg Maus, in particular

in Law and violence
Reflections on Menke’s ‘Law and violence’
Alessandro Ferrara

glossed over by mainstream and even by deliberative liberalism, and at the same time towards the end introduces a remedy, if not a solution, to the said paradox in the form of a reflexive “law against its will” that somehow reinstates, in a peculiar form, the liberal idea of minimizing coercion. I will group my comments under three main headings. First, some of the presuppositions underlying the thesis of the paradoxical relation of law to violence will be addressed. Second, Menke’s appropriation of Benjamin’s critique of violence will be discussed, with special

in Law and violence
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Alexander García Düttmann

193 7 Self-​reflection Alexander García Düttmann Self-​reflection, the philosophical concept that plays a key role in Menke’s essay on law and violence, stands opposed to all forms of spontaneity. Where –​inevitably, perhaps –​such reflection kicks in, or takes over, spontaneity must reveal itself to be either a form of naivety and stupidity, an immediacy that deceives itself about its own implications and mediations, or a form of ideology. The effort made to overcome thick-​headedness will still seem rather improbable, at least from the perspective of the

in Law and violence
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Ian McEwan’s The Children Act and the limits of the legal practices in Menke’s ‘Law and violence’
Ben Morgan

the negotiating are themselves already affected by the processes by which individuals are made subjects of the law. In his bleak view, legal practices “produce a form of subjectivity that underpins or causes social domination.”3 The violence of the law is always already in place in the very structure of our identities. Menke doesn’t make the case for this claim in full in the later text on Marx, but refers back to his essay on law and violence. I shall be commenting later in my essay on some aspects of the claim, particularly on its debt to Rousseau’s strangely

in Law and violence
Christoph Menke

the underlying drive behind law. Its raison d’être is to fight against the violence which one inflicts upon another. Yet, from the very start, law can only do this by bringing violence into a form that it can deal with. Law translates the violence that one inflicts upon another into the violation of a law. The violence of one against another is always unique, always different; the violation of a law, by contrast, is a general one. This general aspect of law consists in the normative status as equals that is accorded to each person under the law. In other words, law

in Law and violence
Daniel Loick

96 3 Law without violence Daniel Loick “Law is itself violence” (p. 3) –​this claim is not only an “observation” about forms of law existing hitherto, but a thesis about the very concept of law as such. According to Christoph Menke, there never was and never can be any law without violence. The reason for this dependency of law on violence lies in its need to be enforced; Menke follows Kant’s definition according to which law consists in a reciprocal authority to use coercion. The aim of my essay is to question this basic assumption. While it is certainly true

in Law and violence
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Lindsey Dodd

texture of the past, reconstructing the world of the bombed. But they also form the basis of an analysis of memory. At times the character or significance of memories is therefore considered: why does the gas mask case have such prominence in memory, for example, and not the mask itself? Strategies used to remember traumatic pasts are equally interesting. Why, for example, does Andréa Cousteaux tell such a comical story of an old corpse blown from his tomb by a bomb? I  will also analyse the ‘social construction of the remembering self ’, such as Édith Denhez’s guilt at

in French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45