Critical Legal Conference 2013

Call for Papers: (Critical Legal Thinking)

It is 24 years since Queen’s Uni­ver­sity Bel­fast last hos­ted the Crit­ical Legal Con­fer­ence. In that time, North­ern Ire­land has under­gone sig­ni­fic­ant polit­ical and social change spurred on by a dif­fi­cult (and ongo­ing) pro­cess of, and yet stead­fast com­mit­ment to, recon­cili­ation and recon­struc­tion. The ques­tions grappled with in this jur­is­dic­tion are argu­ably mirrored in the dis­courses of diverse crit­ical thinkers and artists as they con­tend with the implic­a­tions of the post­struc­tural event in late mod­ern cul­ture and polit­ics. The CLC annual con­fer­ence 2013 invites you to sub­mit abstracts reflect­ing on the role and mean­ing of recon­struc­tion and its the­or­et­ical, cul­tural, polit­ical, eco­nomic, aes­thetic, philo­soph­ical and soci­olo­gical manifestation.
As crit­ical thinkers we are often called on to jus­tify our attach­ment to Der­ridean decon­struc­tion, Heide­g­gerian ‘destruct­ive retrieve’, or But­lerian per­form­ativ­ity. Our crit­ics accuse us of blind­ness to mater­i­al­ity, polit­ics or ‘real­ity’ often unsat­is­fied by the clas­sic Deleuzian response that cri­tique is in itself an act of res­ist­ance. The theme of recon­cili­ation and recon­struc­tion might include, but is not lim­ited to, dis­cus­sion on:
  • law’s crit­ical pro­ject in the age of austerity
  • the (re)construction of the legal per­son and the body politic
  • impro­vised com­munit­ies and ways of being in society
  • the role of art and cul­ture in con­tested polit­ical territories
  • crit­ical read­ings of the devel­op­ment of ‘gov­ernance’ projects
  • the fem­in­ist pro­ject in an era of altern­at­ive modernities.
Sim­il­arly, the theme invites deeper reflec­tion on the concept of trans­ition. This might include re-​reading the pro­ject of human rights; how to con­ceive com­munity and social devel­op­ment; understanding/​regenerating urban spaces; how to remem­ber the past/​the role of memory in recon­struc­tion; the rela­tion­ship between viol­ence and law and the mean­ing of justice.
The con­fer­ence theme is broadly con­ceived and del­eg­ates are encour­aged to sub­mit stream pro­pos­als. Dead­line for stream pro­pos­als (to be sent to the e-​mail below) is Monday 15 April 2013. Dead­line for paper pro­pos­als (to be sent to stream organ­isers) is Fri­day 31 May 2013. For more inform­a­tion, see the CLC 2013 web­site or e-​mail clc2013[at]qub[dot]ac[dot]uk.

Carta para Jana (Milada Horáková)

My only little girl Jana, 

God blessed my life as a woman with you. As your father wrote in the poem from a German prison, God gave you to us because he loved us. Apart from your father's magic, amazing love you were the greatest gift I received from fate. However, Providence planned my life in such a way that I could not give you nearly all that my mind and my heart had prepared for you. The reason was not that I loved you little; I love you just as purely and fervently as other mothers love their children. But I understood that my task here in the world was to do you good by seeing to it that life becomes better, and that all children can live well. And therefore, we often had to be apart for a long time. It is now already for the second time that Fate has torn us apart. Don't be frightened and sad because I am not coming back any more. Learn, my child, to look at life early as a serious matter. Life is hard, it does not pamper anybody, and for every time it strokes you it gives you ten blows. Become accustomed to that soon, but don't let it defeat you. Decide to fight. Have courage and clear goals and you will win over life. Much is still unclear to your young mind, and I don't have time left to explain to you things you would still like to ask me. One day, when you grow up, you will wonder and wonder, why your mother who loved you and whose greatest gift you were, managed her life so strangely. Perhaps then you will find the right solution to this problem, perhaps a better one than I could give you today myself. Of course, you will only be able to solve it correctly and truthfully by knowing very, very much. 

Not only from books, but from people; learn from everybody, no matter how unimportant! Go through the world with open eyes, and listen not only to your own pains and interests, but also to the pains, interests and longings of others. Don't ever think of anything as none of your business. No, everything must interest you, and you should reflect about everything, compare, compose individual phenomena. Man doesn't live in the world alone; in that there is great happiness, but also a tremendous responsibility. That obligation is first of all in not being and not acting exclusive, but rather merging with the needs and the goals of others. This does not mean to be lost in the multitude, but it is to know that I am part of all, and to bring one's best into that community. If you do that, you will succeed in contributing to the common goals of human society. 

Be more aware of one principle than I have been: approach everything in life constructively—beware of unnecessary negation—I am not saying all negation, because I believe that one should resist evil. But in order to be a truly positive person in all circumstances, one has to learn how to distinguish real gold from tinsel. It is hard, because tinsel sometimes glitters so dazzlingly. I confess, my child, that often in my life I was dazzled by glitter. And sometimes it even shone so falsely, that one dropped pure gold from one's hand and reached for, or ran after, false gold. You know that to organize one's scale of values well means to know not only oneself well, to be firm in the analysis of one's character, but mainly to know the others, to know as much of the world as possible, its past, present, and future development. Well, in short, to know, to understand. Not to close one's ears before anything and for no reason—not even to shut out the thoughts and opinions of anybody who stepped on my toes, or even wounded me deeply. Examine, think, criticize, yes, mainly criticize yourself don't be ashamed to admit a truth you have come to realize, even if you proclaimed the opposite a little while ago; don't become obstinate about your opinions, but when you come to consider something right, then be so definite that you can fight and die for it. As Wolker said, death is not bad. Just avoid gradual dying which is what happens when one suddenly finds oneself apart from the real life of the others. You have to put down your roots where fate determined for you to live. You have to find your own way. Look for it independently, don't let anything turn you away from it, not even the memory of your mother and father. If you really love them, you won't hurt them by seeing them critically—just don't go on a road which is wrong, dishonest and does not harmonize with life. I have changed my mind many times, rearranged many values, but, what was left as an essential value, without which I cannot imagine my life, is the freedom of my conscience. I would like you, my little girl, to think about whether I was right.

Another value is work. I don't know which to assign the first place and which the second. Learn to love work! Any work, but one you have to know really and thoroughly. Then don't be afraid of any thing, and things will turn out well for you.

And don't forget about love in your life. I am not only thinking of the red blossom which one day will bloom in your heart, and you, if fate favors you, will find a similar one in the heart of another person with whose road yours will merge. I am thinking of love without which one cannot live happily. And don't ever crumble love—learn to give it whole and really. And learn to love precisely those who encourage love so little—then you won't usually make a mistake. My little girl Jana, when you will be choosing for whom your maiden heart shall burn and to whom to really give yourself remember your father.

I don't know if you will meet with such luck as I, I don't know if you will meet such a beautiful human being, but choose your ideal close to him. Perhaps you, my little one, have already begun to understand, and now perhaps you understand to the point of pain what we have lost in him. What I find hardest to bear is that I am also guilty of that loss.

Be conscious of the great love and sacrifice Pepik and Veruska are bringing you. You not only have to be grateful to them...you must help them build your common happiness positively, constructively. Always want to give them more for the good they do for you. Then perhaps you will be able to come to terms with their gentle goodness.

I heard from my legal representative that you are doing well in school, and that you want to continue...I was very pleased. But even if you would one day have to leave school and to work for your livelihood, don't stop learning and studying. If you really want to, you will reach your goal. I would have liked for you to become a medical doctor—you remember that we talked about it. Of course you will decide yourself and circumstances will, too. But if you stand one day in the traditional alma mater and carry home from graduation not only your doctor's diploma, but also the real ability to bring people relief as a doctor—then, my little girl...your mother will be immensely pleased...But your mother would only be...truly happy, no matter where you stand, whether at the operating table, at the...lathe, at your child's cradle or at the work table in your household, if you will do your work skillfully, honestly, happily and with your whole being. Then you will be successful in it. Don't be demanding in life, but have high goals. They are not exclusive of each other, for what I call demanding are those selfish notions and needs. Restrict them yourself. Realize that in view of the disaster and sorrow which happened to you, Vera, Pepicek, grandmother and grandfather...and many others will try to give you what they have and what they cannot afford. You should not only not ask them for it, but learn to be modest. If you become used to it, you will not be unhappy because of material things you don't have. You don't know how free one feels if one trains oneself in modesty...how he/she gets a head start over against the feeble and by how much one is safer and stronger. I really tried this out on myself And, if you can thus double your strength, you can set yourself courageous, high goals...Read much, and study languages. You will thereby broaden your life and multiply its content. There was a time in my life when I read voraciously, and then again times when work did not permit me to take a single book in my hand, apart from professional literature. That was a shame. Here in recent months I have been reading a lot, even books which probably would not interest me outside, but it is a big and important task to read everything valuable, or at least much that is. I shall write down for you at the end of this letter what I have read in recent months. I am sure you will think of me when you will be reading it.

And now also something for your body. I am glad that you are engaged in sports. Just do it systematically. I think that there should be rhythmic exercises, and if you have time, also some good, systematic gymnastics. And those quarter hours every morning! Believe me finally that it would save you a lot of annoyance about unfavorable proportions of your waist, if you could really do it. It is also good for the training of your will and perseverance. Also take care of your complexion regularly—I do not mean makeup, God forbid, but healthy daily care. And love your neck and feet as you do your face and lips. A brush has to be your good friend, every day, and not only for your hands and feet; use it on every little bit of your skin. Salicyl alcohol and Fennydin, that is enough for beauty, and then air and sun. But about that you will find better advisors than I am.

Your photograph showed me your new hairdo; it looks good, but isn't it a shame to hide your nice forehead? And that lady in the ball gown! Really, you looked lovely, but your mother's eye noticed one fault, which may be due to the way you were placed on the photograph—wasn't the neck opening a little deep for your sixteen years? I am sorry I did not see the photo of your new winter coat. Did you use the muff from your aunt as a fur collar? Don't primp, but whenever possible, dress carefully and neatly. And don't wear shoes until they arc run down at the heel! Are you wearing innersoles? And how is your thyroid gland? These questions don't, of course, require an answer, they are only meant as your mother's reminders.

In Leipzig in prison I read a book—the letters of Maria Theresa to her daughter Marie Antoinette. I was very much impressed with how this ruler showed herself to be practical and feminine in her advice to her daughter. It was a German original, and I don't remember the name of the author. If you ever see that book, remember that I made up my mind at that time that I would also write you such letters about my experiences and advice. Unfortunately I did not get beyond good intentions.

Janinko, please take good care of Grandfather Kral and Grandmother Horakova. Their old hearts now need the most consolation. Visit them often and let them tell you about your father's and mother's youth, so that you can preserve it in your mind for your children. In that way an individual becomes immortal, and we shall continue in you and in the others of your blood.

And one more thing—music. I believe that you will show your gratitude to Grandfather Horak for the piano which he gave you by practicing honestly, and that you will succeed in what Pepik wants so much, in accompanying him when he plays the violin or the viola. Please, do him that favor. I know that it would mean a lot to him, and it would be beautiful. And when you can play well together, play me the aria from Martha: "My rose, you bloom alone there on the hillside," and then: "Sleep my little prince" by Mozart, and then your father's favourite largo: " Under your window" by Chopin. You will play it for me, won't you? I shall always be listening to you.

Just one more thing: Choose your friends carefully. Among other things one is also very much determined by the people with whom one associates. Therefore choose very carefully. Be careful in everything and listen to the opinions of others about your girlfriends without being told. I shall never forget your charming letter (today I can tell you) which you once in the evening pinned to my pillow, to apologize when I caught you for the first time at the gate in the company of a girl and a boy. You explained to me at that time why it is necessary to have a gang. Have your gang, little girl, but of good and clean young people. And compete with each other in everything good. Only please don't confuse young people's springtime infatuation with real love. Do you understand me? If you don't, aunt Vera will h
elp you explain what I meant. And so, my only young daughter, little girl Jana, new life, my hope, my future forgiveness, live! Grasp life with both hands! Until my last breath I shall pray for your happiness, my dear child!

I kiss your hair, eyes and mouth, I stroke you and hold you in my arms (I really held you so little.) I shall always be with you. I am concluding by copying from memory the poem which your father composed for you in jail in 1940...

[There followed a poem written by her husband about the birth of their daughter, and a reading list.]

From: Letters of Note: I shall always be with you

Jóvenes constitucionalistas de América Latina (recopilación de textos)

En este enlace, Miguel Carbonell reúne algunos de los textos más importantes de jóvenes constitucionalistas en Latinoamérica: Jóvenes constitucionalistas de América Latina

Excelente iniciativa no solo por la accesibilidad de los textos sino también porque vistos en conjunto nos dan una idea de algunos de los temas más sobresalientes en la región y, por supuesto, los no sobresalientes. Además, la lista hace visible a autores importantes y supongo que invisiviliza a muchas importantes también. Agradecemos la iniciativa (y a RG por compartirla en su blog).


The Genius of Marie Curie

Para un re-enfoque de la controversia sobre "Testigos de Jehová, beepers y un juez federal"

Que sean hoy los Testigos de Jehová los que quieren 'entrar' con pretensiones evangelizadoras, que fueran ayer los no-residentes de Ocean Park los que querían 'entrar' para 'usar las playas'; que de dónde sale el dinero pagar el beeper para 'entrar' cuando no hay 'guardia de seguridad' o mantener el portón abierto en ciertas horas del día, o que sea un Juez federal quien 'dicte la orden' para ejercer la 'libertad religiosa', son todos elementos o subincisos de otro fenómeno más importante, me parece: esa creciente incomodidad con la co-existencia, ese miedo e inseguridad avasallador y colonizador, esa angustia por la demarcación que ya no solo excluye sino que hace desaparecer  -ni siquiera reinventar- cualquier asomo de la otrora sociedad.   

(La foto es de Roberto Gargarella)
Algo de esto en esta entrevista a Zygmunt Bauman (colgada en Libros Colgados):

ZB: "La misma tendencia (la de cerrar los espacios) prevalece en todos los continentes. Se trata de otro intento desesperado de separarse de la vida incierta, desigual, difícil y caótica de “afuera”. Pero las vallas tienen dos lados. Dividen el espacio en un “adentro” y un “afuera”, pero el “adentro” para la gente que vive de un lado del cerco es el “afuera” para los que están del otro lado. Cercarse en una “comunidad cerrada” no puede sino significar también excluir a todos los demás de los lugares dignos, agradables y seguros, y encerrarlos en sus barrios pobres. En las grandes ciudades, el espacio se divide en “comunidades cerradas” (guetos voluntarios) y “barrios miserables” (guetos involuntarios). El resto de la población lleva una incómoda existencia entre esos dos extremos, soñando con acceder a los guetos voluntarios y temiendo caer en los involuntarios. 

-¿Por qué se cree que el mundo de hoy padece una inseguridad sin precedentes? ¿En otras eras se vivía con mayor seguridad?

ZB: Cada época y cada tipo de sociedad tiene sus propios problemas específicos y sus pesadillas, y crea sus propias estratagemas para manejar sus propios miedos y angustias. En nuestra época, la angustia aterradora y paralizante tiene sus raíces en la fluidez, la fragilidad y la inevitable incertidumbre de la posición y las perspectivas sociales. Por un lado, se proclama el libre acceso a todas las opciones imaginables (de ahí las depresiones y la autocondena: debo tener algún problema si no consigo lo que otros lograron); por otro lado, todo lo que ya se ganó y se obtuvo es nuestro “hasta nuevo aviso” y podría retirársenos y negársenos en cualquier momento. La angustia resultante permanecería con nosotros mientras la “liquidez” siga siendo la característica de la sociedad. Nuestros abuelos lucharon con valentía por la libertad. Parecemos cada vez más preocupados por nuestra seguridad personal... Todo indica que estamos dispuestos a entregar parte de la libertad que tanto costó a cambio de mayor seguridad. 

-Esto nos llevaría a otra paradoja. ¿Cómo maneja la sociedad moderna la falta de seguridad que ella misma produce?

ZB: Por medio de todo tipo de estratagemas, en su mayor parte a través de sustitutos. Uno de los más habituales es el desplazamiento/trasplante del terror a la globalización inaccesible, caótica, descontrolada e impredecible a sus productos: inmigrantes, refugiados, personas que piden asilo. Otro instrumento es el que proporcionan las llamadas “comunidades cerradas” fortificadas contra extraños, merodeadores y mendigos, si bien son incapaces de detener o desviar las fuerzas que son responsables del debilitamiento de nuestra autoestima y actitud social, que amenazan con destruir. En líneas más generales: los ardides más extendidos se reducen a la sustitución de preocupaciones sobre la seguridad del cuerpo y la propiedad por preocupaciones sobre la seguridad individual y colectiva sustentada o negada en términos sociales.


Convocatoria: "On Revolution, After 50 years" (U. Diego Portales, Chile)

CFP: Hannah Arendt’s “On Revolution” after 50 years

Keynote speakers:
Jean Cohen (Columbia University)
Robert Fine (University of Warwick)

In March 1963, The Viking Press published Hannah Arendt’s book “On Revolution”. Since then, the book has provoked a significant amount of controversy, yet at the same time it has been relatively neglected compared to Arendt’s other major works. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its publication, the present conference seeks to explore the legacy of “On Revolution”, assessing its relevance for contemporary social and political thought. We invite proposals for presentations that engage with the historical analyses, theoretical positions, and political conclusions of Arendt’s book. 
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
-  Revolutionary experiences and traditions
-  New beginning, foundation, event: Moments of extraordinary politics
-  Relations and tensions between the political and the social
-  Self-government, radical democracy, and the council system
-  Sovereignty, law, and constituent power

We welcome submissions of both complete papers and extended abstracts of around 500 words. They may be in English or in Spanish and must be prepared for blind review. They should be sent to coloquio_onrevolution@mail.udp.cl. The deadline is June 28, 2013. Notices of acceptance will be sent by July 15, 2013.
The conference is hosted by the Instituto de Humanidades and the Facultad de Ciencias Sociales e Historia of the Universidad Diego Portales. For additional information, please contact the organizers, Rodrigo Cordero Vega and Wolfhart Totschnig, at the email address above.


Libro: Agonistics: Thinking the World Politically (Chantal Mouffe, 2013)

Sale en julio de este año lo más reciente de Chantal Mouffe (Verso, 2013):

Agonistics: Thinking the World Politically

Passionate defense of “the political” by the author ofTheDemocratic Paradox  
Political conflict in our society is inevitable, and the results are often far from negative. How then should we deal with the intractable differences arising from complex modern culture?
In Agonistics, Mouffe develops her philosophy, taking particular interest in international relations, strategies for radical politics and the politics of artistic practices. In a series of coruscating essays, she engages with cosmopolitanism, post-operaism, and theories of multiple modernities to argue in favor of a multipolar world with a real cultural and political pluralism.


Dos precisiones antes de un curso

En su prontuario-notas del curso "From Maquiavelli to Marx", de 1965 en la Universidad de Cornell, encontramos dos invaluables precisiones de Hannah Arendt para sus estudiantes... (y para nosotros). Las comparto aquí:

From Machiavelli to Marx-Fall 1965 (Cornell)
1st session

5. “You’ll read the authors and the commentators and the historians. The authors are those who are concerned with the same things we are concerned in our daily lives and we read them only to the extent that they had things to say which rightly survived their own time.

With the commentators you leave the world in which we live and you enter the world of books – to be sure also very important. The object of a commentator is a book, the object of an author is the world. Finally, you’ll read the historians, and they will tell you the story.”

6. Machiavelli distinguished three types of people –those who understand things unaided, those who need and know how to use help, and those who don’t understand even when helped. We hope to belong to the 2nd category”.

(Énfasis mío).


Bureaucratization of public life, progress and the power to act- (1969) (...) (2013)

“[t]he greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances, on whom the pressures of power could be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant. The crucial feature in the students’ rebellions around the world is that they are directed everywhere against the ruling bureaucracy. This explains, what at first glance seems so disturbing, that the rebellions in the East demand precisely those freedoms of speech and thought that the young rebels in the West say they despise as irrelevant. Huge party machines have succeeded everywhere to overrule the voice of the citizens, even in countries where freedom of speech and association is still intact. 

The dissenters and resisters in the East demand free speech and thought as the preliminary conditions for political action; the rebels in the West live under conditions where these preliminarics no longer open the channels for action, for the meaningful exercise of freedom. The transformation of government into administration, of republics into bureaucracies, and the disastrous shrinkage of the public realm that went with it, have a long and complicated history throughout the modern age; and this process has been considerably accelerated for the last hundred years through the rise of party bureaucracies.

What makes man a political being is his faculty to act. It enables him to get together with his peers, to act in concert, and to reach out for goals and enterprises which would never enter his mind, let alone the desires of his heart, had he not been given this gift—to embark upon something new. All the properties of creativity ascribed to life in manifestations of violence and power actually belong to the faculty of action. And I think it can be shown that no other human ability has suffered to such an extent by the Progress of the modern age.

For progress, as we have come to understand it, means growth, the relentless process of more and more, of bigger and bigger. The bigger a country becomes in population, in objects, and in possessions, the greater will be the need for administration and with it, the anonymous power of the administrators. Pavel Kohout, the Czech author, writing in the heyday of the Czech experiment with freedom, defined a “free citizen” as a “Citizen-Co-ruler.” He meant nothing else but the “participatory democracy” of which we have heard so much in recent years in the West. Kohout added that what the world, as it is today, stands in greatest need of may well be “a new example” if “the next thousand years are not to become an era of supercivilized monkeys.”” 

H. Arendt, A Special Supplement: Reflections on Violence, FEBRUARY 27, 1969 • VOLUME 12, NUMBER 4, pp. 22-23. 

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