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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.

Christoph Menke

207 8 A reply to my critics Christoph Menke (Translated by Cathleen Poehler) “Law and violence” is a short, thesis-​based attempt to explore the possibility of a critique of law. At the center of this critique of law is the problem of violence, for law does not only start with violence but also leads to violence. Law begins with the experience of violence. Law exists because there is violence, and because recognizing the existence of violence appears to be tantamount to saying that violence should not exist. “Pain says: ‘Refrain! Away, you pain!’ ”1 This is

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

137 5 Law in action: Ian McEwan’s The Children Act and the limits of the legal practices in Menke’s ‘Law and violence’ Ben Morgan We could put this less paradoxically by saying that a successful performance –​as decision or practice –​is made possible insofar as we no longer think of it as made possible by us (i.e., by us alone). Christoph Menke, “Ability and Faith,” 609.1 1.  Introduction: Eluding the law I want briefly to set out one of the central issues that Christoph Menke confronts in his essay, before showing how a reading of Ian McEwan’s novel The

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

limits of the kind of justice offered by a legal framework, and indicating forms of interruption of the historical and political effects of the structures subject to critique. In his essay “Law and violence,” however, Christoph Menke decides to take a different approach. He retraces the tradition of a philosophical critique of violence –​paradigmatically represented by Benjamin’s methodology and his philosophical-​historical critique of the law –​but reframes it in the context of a genealogy of the foundation of law as right. Faithful to Benjamin’s original claim that

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

112 4 Deconstructing the deconstruction of the law: reflections on Menke’s ‘Law and violence’ Alessandro Ferrara Christoph Menke’s essay belongs in the number of those short interventions that often convey a much more penetrating and lasting message than ponderous and monumental volumes. In a single-​ handed move that ambitiously tries to bring two philosophical worlds –​liberalism and deconstructionism –​into dialogue, Menke deconstructs the purportedly violence-​ averting function of the law by elucidating its paradoxical nature, which is overlooked and

in Law and violence
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Alexander García Düttmann

Self-reflection amounts to the attainment of an awareness that deepens the understanding of whatever it is that undergoes the process, the understanding that someone has of herself or himself, or the understanding that something has of itself. In Christoph Menke, self-reflection as an act of the law, as an act of the law's enlightening manifestation, has to do with unwillingness, with a peculiar reluctance to apply the law, with a repugnance inspired by such application, or execution. Self-reflection is the logical and genetic criterion that allows Menke to distinguish between two forms of justice: retributive justice and the justice of the law and its normative order. The place of self-reflection, the place that in Menke's essay is occupied by the law and configured by its instauration, is the place of a transformation of self-reflection that must protect it against turning into a tautological activity or activity with a result.

in Law and violence
Andreas Fischer- Lescano

167 6 Postmodern legal theory as critical theory Andreas Fischer-Lescano (Translated by Gerrit Jackson) Understanding the relationship between law and violence is one of the most urgent challenges a postmodern critical legal theory faces today. In his essay, Christoph Menke explores the thesis that violence is to be thought of not as an external quality of law but as an essential part of its constitution. While his concise analysis reveals the fundamental conflict between the autonomy and the social responsiveness of law, I  will suggest that we must

in Law and violence
On the relation between law, politics, and other social systems in modern societies
Darrow Schecter

Political Thought (Ashgate: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Paul Mason discusses the Gramscian dimension of the June 2017 parliamentary elections in Paul Mason, ‘Corbyn’s victory was not supposed to happen: but to disrupt logic is the first step in defeating Britain’s ruling elite’, Guardian (13 June 2017), G2, pp. 10–​11. 2 This theme is examined in detail in Darrow Schecter, Beyond Hegemony: Towards a New Philosophy of Political Legitimacy (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 2005). 3 These links are analysed and subjected to a thorough critique by Christoph Menke

in Critical theory and sociological theory