Law

by | 22 Nov 2010

InsideLaw comes from “lex” (“legere”; to read). Who could read the law? And who can write it? The one empowered to do so. The law is always inaccurate because accuracy could only be achieved at the cost of an infinite negentropy, and it would an infinite amount of information and time, as it is evidenced by Brillouin’s theorem.1M. SERRES, La distribution, Minuit, Paris, 1977, p. 33. Law overcomes this fact and therefore leaves a debt unpaid, that one that goes from real inaccuracy to impossible accuracy. Because of that, law is violent; it needs to hide what it owes.

A system of particles (physics) or a system of subjects (social) evolves with aleatory cloud movements. It is an impossible task to perfectly order these systems: linguistic codes that organise the social order with dictates (proscribing and prescribing) also fail on the edge.2G. DELEUZE and F. GUATTARI, Capitalisme et schizophrenie: Mille Plateux, Minuit, Paris, 1980.

Reality is concrete, disordered; law is abstract and attempts to appear as if ordered: because of that, it is un-just, because it does not ad-just to reality. The real is lawless. Or there is no law or this is arbitrary; simply obeying the interest of the one who wants to impose it (the winner, the powerful, the one who also decides the values). The effect is closure: it hides the genesis of the processes and denies their possible end.

This disjuncture joint” situation points out the core of violence: the debate is not about subjects, but over objects, call them real (physics), historical (historians), social (sociologists), legal (jurists) matter, etc. The violation that all legal institution brings is derived from the object to which the law is applied, and it is not related to its own imperative. Because of that, it reacts simultaneously violent.

The millions of papers that are part of legal cases constitute a practical example of the real impossibility of finding the accuracy, the objective reconstruction of facts: neither all the time of the world, nor all the information available, or the energy dissipated in the universe would be enough to perfectly ad-just in order to achieve justice, order, and accuracy.

It was not necessary to try to prove it: it is evident. Justice, with reason, appears blind on the statues.

This article was first published in the Spanish journal Archipielago Cuadernos de crítica de la cultura 1990; (4), p. 132. Translated by Jose Bellido. Thanks to Terry Mayer for editorial suggestions.


  • 1
    M. SERRES, La distribution, Minuit, Paris, 1977, p. 33.
  • 2
    G. DELEUZE and F. GUATTARI, Capitalisme et schizophrenie: Mille Plateux, Minuit, Paris, 1980.

1 Comment

  1. Jose,

    Thanks for translating this thought-provoking text. It is always good to be reminded of law’s constitutive lack.

    I would just like to pick up on the etymology of the word ‘law’ or lex. As mentioned in your text, lex is certainly linked to legere, the main meaning of which is ‘to read’. But in what sense? While lex is something that is often read, from an early Roman point of view, lex is also that which does the reading. What does lex read? Lex reads or rather picks out or chooses (still from the verb legere) ius, where ius is the general and unwritten law before its enactment in the Twelve Tables forming the basis of Roman law. This provides us with a wonderful circularity: the law reads (out) the law or, what amounts to the same thing, law enacts right. Of course, as your text suggests, we still have to attempt to break out of this circularity by positing a reader outside the law. But then who reads the reader?

    Reply

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