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.
” thus also fails to see how law in this process, hence in its ordinary practice, already deals with its own abstractness and formalism. According to objection (ii), the insistence on the paradox of law leads to a postmodern, anti-utopian attitude of closing off any perspective of transcending the actual conditions of power and domination. Finally, objection (iii) questions the suitability of the central operational term that I propose in “Law and Violence” for conceptualizing the transformative process of the relief (or Entsetzung) of law, namely self
the manifestation of law but also of its essence” (p. 21). Menke’s analytically precise distinction draws our attention to the fundamental paradoxes of law, the process of juridical decision-making in undecidable matters, and the ambivalent situation in which law is operating: justice cannot be rendered quasi-automatically, by way of a mathematical subsumption under legitimately instituted norms, but is generated in the struggle for law as the state of a just order that remains unattainable –that it is never more than justice “to come.” Menke’s critique “counters
implements the program of delimiting law by distinguishing and contrasting these two sides. Yet this liberal “art of separation” (Michael Walzer) leaves what it separates unaltered. That is in fact what the liberal “art of separation” intends: to avoid or fend off fundamental change. The liberal “art of separating” the legal from the non-legal believes that it can break the violence of law merely by limiting its reach –which is to say, without having to change how the law judges. 5. After liberalism: The paradox of law The dualism of bourgeois liberalism consists in