The following text is an abstract I wrote last August as a response to the call for papers organized by Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory (see previous article). I am neither a doctor in anything nor knows much about law but my paper was selected to participate to the forum. Unfortunately I did no have enough money to go all the way to Melbourne so this abstract never went further (at least in this form) than that. The topic was entitled Law and its Accident:
Collision, Sexuality and Resistance.
By Léopold Lambert
Calling for papers about law and its accident is indubitably recognizing that law is a technology, and that each technology implies the invention of its own failure as Paul Virilio numerously pointed out in his books. Accident, here, could be defined as the moment when the concerned technology ceases to function right after its collision with another body. The violence of such collision is normally understood as unfortunate if not fatal.
Nevertheless, in 1973, English author James Graham Ballard published a novel entitled Crash that precisely describes a new form of sexuality that reaches its climax at the very moment of the accident. He uses the car as the paradigm of the modern technocracy and introduces his characters as the pioneers of this sexuality. Each scar, trace of a previous accident, becomes a new orifice that constructs these characters’ desire until the next machinist orgasm. The latter is produced by the violent penetration of the piece of technology within the human body. This event celebrates the death of technology which often implies the death of this same human body that is dependent of it.
From this brief expose of J.G. Ballard’s novel, it is not necessarily obvious to distinguish any analogy that would consider law as a subject. If we reconsider the accident as we defined it in the beginning of this abstract though, we can think of the various national revolutions through history –and specifically the most recent ones in the Arab world- as a collision of the law with another body, their people’s, before its complete suspension that marks the end of a regime.
The whole process of a revolution is based, in fact, as a production of a desire that ends up in a punctual and jubilatory event that we can metaphorically envision as a collective orgasm. Just like in Crash, technology does not die without involving the violence of the collision, and the various suppressions that we observed in the Arab world from States against their people are symptomatic of such violence. In Iran, for example, this suppression implied law to its highest degree, organizing trials and condemning to death numerous activists of the Green Revolution. The various Emergency Laws adopted in several countries are also carrying this violence as they suspend the law within the frame of the legal system.
To the same extent as sexuality, a revolution should not really be characterized by its finality, what we called here, the accident, but rather as a continuous production of desire that precedes this event. During the recent Egyptian revolution, the interesting moment was not as much Husni Mubarak’s termination but rather the eighteen days spent by the protesters on Tahrir Square. Those three weeks constituted this desire for democracy within its own production at the scale of a micro-society. The study of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze is fundamental for such study as he understands the body as a productive machine of desire while defining this same notion of machine as the martial formation of what he calls devenir révolutionnaire (revolutionary becoming). This devenir révolutionnaire has a name: Resistance.