On the horizon of every legal practice there is, doubtless, a gendarme who keeps an eye on things and intervenes (part of the state apparatus) when he must. Most of the time, however, he does not intervene and is even completely absent from the horizon of legal practice. What, then, is present, not on the horizon of this space, but in this space itself? Legal ideology plus the little supplement of moral ideology.
In the folds of the failed promises of liberal democracy, a new(-old) wave of fascist-like ideology is populating European political imagination, offering to the disillusioned multitudes easy solutions based on the trite myths of the nation, the simulacra of sovereignty and the comfort of walled identities. Unsurprisingly, to speak of non-liberal democracy in Europe is not a heresy anymore. But the profanation of the idol of liberalism proves itself to be the counterpart of a more disturbing phenomenon: the opening up to the obscene. It seems as if the limits that the West traced to separate what is acceptable from what should be kept out-of-scene vanished. Evil appears trivialised, and the worst cultural and political instincts that we thought buried under the ruins of twentieth-century history are re-appearing on the surface of the public opinion.
However, the newness brought by populist movements and the so-called illiberal democracies is merely apparent. Indeed, they are nothing other than the re-proposition (in a more hypocritical and socially acceptable fashion) of political and cultural attitudes well known to Europe. Fear for the difference, contempt for intellectuals, a renewed form of anti-Semitism; all traits that were part the confused ideology of “classic” fascism. In the end, as Mark Fisher brilliantly explained in his works, twenty-first-century culture is essentially anachronistic. The entrance into the new millennia has been marked by a “slow cancellation of the future”, with a consequent prevalence of nostalgia moods, “retromania” and the lowering of expectations. But the return of fascist languages and political styles is not simply a peculiar fetish for vintage politics, rather is a predictable response to the lack of imagination of alternatives. In the end, fascism has been one of the few successful answers to the crisis of capitalism and the failure of liberal democracy that Europe has known.
In the shadow of the impossibility of thinking new futures, we are witnessing the rise of a quite peculiar ideology. A strange brew of classic leftist-socialist ideas and nationalist right-wing motives. A dark-red tendency that tries to merge socially progressive thought with strong conservative ideas. We see radical anti-capitalism coupled with the defence of the traditional family; the critique of global financial elite fused with the to-a-certain-extent-idiotic idolatry of sovereignty; we see racism and xenophobia disguised in the form of a defence of the rights of workers. Needless to say, in the mixing of the opposites the dark side has the upper hand. Indeed the appropriation of leftist thought turns out to be a mystification, a bait to attract to the right the multitude remained orphan by the demise of the leftist traditional parties. Along with this, we see the rise of a widespread contempt for any form of specialism, in the name of elementary and primitive feelings and passions, which is nothing other than the negation of the critique itself. Critical thinking operates distinctions, and syncretism is by definition allergic to distinctions.
In times like these to contest and to look beyond legal institutions and cultural normative apparatuses become urgent. We live into a nomos – a normative universe, grounded on specific (and sometimes competing) narratives that give it sense and orientation. Every decision is in demand to be legitimised by a founding narrative, as every narrative aims at expressing its normative essence. The text of the law cannot escape the material condition of social imagination. Understanding the law, in relation to the ground of which it is an expression, is thus functional to think inside and beyond the nomos of our time. With this blog, we want to open a space to share