Re: Chiapas (Derrida's Aporia)

Here's the Derrida, as promised.

Derrida, J. "The Force of Law: The 'Mystical Foundation of Authority.'" In
_Deconstruction_and_the_Possibility_of_Justice_ (edited by Drucilla Cornell,
Michel Rosenfeld and David Gray Carlson), pp. 26-9.

3. Third aporia: the urgency that obstructs the horizon of knowledge.
On of the reasons I'm keeping such a distance from all these horizons--for
example the Kantian regulative idea or from the messianic advent, for example,
or at least from their conventional interpretation--is that they are, precisely,
*horizons.* As its Greek name suggests, a horizon is both the opening and the
limit that defines an infinite progress or a period of waiting.
But justice, however unpresentable it may be, doesn't wait. It is that
which must not wait. To be direct, simple, and brief, let us say this: a just
decision is always required *immediately*, "right away." It cannot furnish
itself with infinite information and the unlimited knowledge of conditions,
rules or hypothetical imperatives that could justify it. And even if it did
have all of that at its disposal, even if it did give itself the time, all the
time and the necessary facts about the matter, the moment of *decision,* *as
such,* always remains a finite moment of urgency and precipitation, since it
must not be the consequence or effect of this theoretical or historical
knowledge, of this reflection or deliberation, since it always marks the
interruption of the juridico- or ethico- or politico-cognitive deliberation that
precedes it, that *must* precede it. The instant of decision is a madness, says
Kierkegaard. This is particularly true of the instant of the just decision that
must rend time and defy dialectics. It is a madness. Even if time and
prudence, the patience of knowledge and the mastery of conditions were
hypothethetically unlimited, the decision would be structurally finite, however
late it came, a decision of urgency and precipitation, acting in the night of
non-knowledge and non-rule. Not of the absence of rules and knowledge but of a
reinstitution of rules which by definition is not preceded by any knowledge or
by any guarantee as such. [Here Derrida briefly discusses the aporia in terms
of the decisive division between "performative" and "constative." This is
omitted in the interest of my slow and tired fingers.]
Paradoxically, it is because of this overflowing of the performative,
because of this always excessive haste of interpretation getting ahead of
itself, because of this structural urgency and precipitation of justice that the
latter has no horizon of expectation (regulative or messianic). But for this
very reason, it *may* have an *avenir*, a "to-come", which I rigorously
distinguish from the future that can always reproduce the present. Justice
remains, is yet, to come, a venir, it has an, it is a-venir, the very dimension
of events irreducibly to come. It will always have it, this a-venir, and always
has. Perhaps it is for this reason that justice, insofar as it is not only a
juridical or political concept, opens up for l'avenir the transformation, the
recasting or refounding of law and politics. "Perhaps," one must always say
perhaps for justice. There is an avenir for justice and there is no justice
except to the degree that some event is possible which, as event, exceeds
calculation, rules, programs, anticipations, and so forth. Justice as the
experience of absolute alterity is unpresentable, but it is the chance of the
event and the condition of history. [Note the subtle shift from Levinas'
discussion of alterity to Foucault's history...] No doubt an unrecognizable
history, of course, for those who believe they know what they're talking about
when they use this word, whether it's a matter of social, ideological,
political, juridical or some other history.
That justice exceeds law and calculation, that the unpresentable exceeds
the determinable cannot and should not serve as an alibi for staying out of
juridico-political battles, within an institution or state or between
institutions or states and others. Left to itself, the incalculable and giving
idea of justice is always very close to the bad, even to the worst for it can
always be reapportioned by the most perverse calculation. It's always possible.
And so incalculable justice *requires* us to calculate. And first, closest to
what we associate with justice, namely, law, the juridical field that one cannot
isolate within sure frontiers, but also in all the fields from which we cannot
separate it, which intervene in it and are no longer simply fields: ethics,
politics, economics, psycho-sociology, philosophy, literature, etc. Not only
*must* we calculate, negotiate the relation between the calculable and
incalculable, and negotiate without the sort of tule that wouldn't have to be
reinvented there where we are cast, there where we find ourselves; but we *must*
take it as far as possible, beyond the place where we find ourselves and beyond
the already identifiable zones of morality or politics or law, beyond the
distinction between national and international, public and private, and so on.
This requirement doesn't properly belong either to justice or law. It only
belongs to either of these two domains by exceeding each one in the direction of
the other. Politicization, for example, is interminable even if it cannot and
should not ever be total. To keep this from being a truism or a triviality, we
must recognize in it the following consequence: each advance in politicization
obliges on to reconsider, and so to reinterpret, the very foundations of law
such as they had been previously calculated or delimited. This was true for
example in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, in the abolition of slavery, in
all the emancipatory battles that remain and will have to remain in progress,
everywhere in the world, for men and for women. Nothing to me seems more
outdated than the classical emancipatory ideal. We cannot attempt to disqualify
it today, whether crudely or with sophistication, at least not without treating
it too lightly and forming the worst complicities. But beyond these identified
territories of juridico-politicization on the grand geo-political scale, beyond
all self-serving interpretations, beyond all determined and particular
reappropriations of international law, other areas must constantly open up that
at first can only seem like secondary or marginal areas. This marginality also
signifies that a violence, indeed a terrorism and a hostage-taking are at work
(the examples closest to us would be found in the are of laws on the teaching
and practise of languages, the legitimization of canons, the military use of
scientific research, abortion, euthanasia, problems of organ transplant,
extra-uterine conception, bio-engineering, medical experimentation, the social
treatment of AIDS, the macro- or micro-politics of drugs, the homeless, and so
on, without forgetting, of course, the treatment of what we call animal life,


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