On the Concept of Right



Law and Right are inherited like a disease.

J.W. von Goethe

 

I

Hegel says somewhere that historical tragedy is born not of the conflict of right and wrong, but of two rights. He forgot to add, but Marx remembered, that in such a contest of equal rights, force decides.

 

II

It should go without saying, but Right is a bourgeois concept. The institutions of justice are necessary only because social reality is in its essence unjust. But these two terms hold one another together. There is no such thing as a just society; there is only the end of this one.

 

III

That end will only come about by force. For all the swagger of street-fighting activists and the chiding of no-platformers, the Left can no longer grasp this. It has swallowed whole the language of justice, but what is truly tragic is that it has not even digested it. It merely belches up justice’s foul scent whenever it is offended. Gone is the talk of ‘civil rights,’ which was at least useful for generalizing the formal equality of the abstract legal subject, that is, for forcing bourgeois Right to better live up to its own self-image. Now the talk is only of privilege, as if we lived in the world of corvée and fealty, of caste rather than class, of personal rather than abstract domination, under the Standestaat rather than the Rechtstaat. Justice now exists for the Left only in its abscence. This is the false comprehension of a truth.

 

IV

Communists know that we are not fighting for justice, nor do we claim any Right. What we are going to do is unjust, formally, and pompous asses taste no greater pleasure than in telling us this. That’s why they’ll die at our hands. What we are going to do is necessary. Saint-Just once said that happiness was a new idea; it has remained only an idea, however new. We will make it a reality. Our revolutionary practice will make of this hell the heaven it is in potentia.

 

V

Marx said that man must prove the truth. So far we are wrong; but it will not always be so. To the thought of Right, founded on the ahistorical logic of abstract equivalence, such a sentence is absurd. When the truth appears as absurd, a form of life has grown old. It will stagger miserably in its dotage until killed. But will anything better be born? The answer lies only with the class of consciousness; with the devil’s party.




A New Institute for Social Research