Springe direkt zu Inhalt

The Art of Lawlessness Part II

Lawful vs. Lawless Politics

We have seen how Hölderlin tried to think the connection between justice and political reality by introducing law as a mediating chasm between them; indeed, political reality and politics have been at the core of every discussion during the whole event and they were mainly debated from two different points of view, offering two opposite perspectives on the role and the function of ‘the political’ in its relation to law.

The first tendency viewed the political mostly in its realization and articulation in, let’s say, everyday life. Politics, in this sense, were considered to be the implementation of power relations and the space of presence of the dominants. In this direction, Yiannis Rachiotis, a leftist celebrity lawyer, pointed out that the legal system and jurisdiction, which supposedly operates independently from the government, politics and the state, is much rather intertwined and intricately interwoven with the political elites and their will. There is no such thing as an autonomous attribution of justice; jurisdiction occurs within a space where a minimum of consensus with elitist politics already exists.

In this specific context happened the discussion about the particular situation that Greece has been in since approximately 2010 and particularly the lawlessness or illegality fostered by the state itself when it declares ‘exceptional conditions’ in order to pass laws that clearly contradict constitution or legality for that matter. Yannis noticed that whenever states and governments need to take restrictive and reactionary measures, they more often than not call upon the temporary character of the situation and the measures – we have a saying in Greece that translates: Nothing is more permanent than the temporary. Yiannis confirmed this wholeheartedly. I am referring to this aspect of the debate because it clearly demonstrates the highly confusing current ‘Greek situation’, where one is called to respond to an – in essence – illegal state that obtains its authority in a rather obscure, mystical, if you want, – to refer to Jacques Derrida once more – and certainly arbitrary way, an always deeply awkward and puzzling situation.

During the event, a strong second tendency in considering politics emerged and this assumed an opposite stance to the one discussed above. Julia Chryssostalis, senior lecturer in critical legal studies in London, argued for a – what I would call – idealistic conception of politics that suppose to bear the potential to resist to an unjust and/or repressive law, to subvert or annihilate it, to bring about change. Julia expressed it this way:

“We have talked a lot about lawlessness, but this inoperativeness of law, the breaching of boundaries, always relates to the political, to the way in which law relates to politics, the way in which politics will have to exceed the law. That is to say that political action will question, will unfound and will refound the principles of law. I don’t think it is productive to think that there is a full coincidence between the space of the law and the space of the political. To allow for political action to exceed, to create new political realities, or if not political realities then political instances that will bring about changes in the way in which reality is configured, political reality is configured, space is configured.”

Julia believes in the salvational potential of politics and refuses to settle for a definition of politics that deprives them from their revolutionary gist.

Both attitudes and ways of thinking never negated the importance of political action and struggle though, both underlining the need for inventing and putting forward new tactics and strategies in order to rearrange and redefine the political: Yiannis insisted on the significance of reclaiming and dominating the (political) discourse in order for the non-elites to gain power, while Julia stressed the meaning of the new tactics of defining and arranging the commons as it happens for example in Greece over the last years.



(September 2014)