Tuesday, January 30, 2007

De jure

"The inevitable general staff of the liberties of 1848, personal liberty, liberty of the press, of speech, of association, of assembly, of education and of religion, etc., received a constitutional uniform, which made them invulnerable. Each of these liberties, namely, is proclaimed as the absolute right of the French citoyen, but always with the marginal note that it is unlimited so far as it is not restricted by the "equal rights of others and the public safety" or by "laws" which are intended to secure just this harmony of the individual liberties with one another and with the public safety. For example: "The citizens have the right of association, of peaceful and unarmed assembly, of petition and of the free expression of opinions, whether in the press or otherwise. The enjoyment of these rights has no limit save the equal rights of others and the public safety." (Chapter II of the French Constitution, § 8)--"Education is free. Freedom of education shall be enjoyed under the conditions fixed by law and under the general supervision of the state." (Ibidem, § 9.)--"The domicile of every citizen is inviolable except in the forms proscribed by law." (Chapter II, § 3.) Etc., etc.--The Constitution, therefore, constantly refers to future organic laws, which are to put into effect those marginal notes and regulate the enjoyment of these unrestricted liberties so that they collide neither with one another nor with the public safety. And later, the organic laws were brought into being by the friends of order and all those liberties regulated in such a way that the bourgeoisie in its enjoyment of them does not come into collision with the equal rights of the other classes. Where it forbids these liberties entirely to "the others" or permits enjoyment of them under conditions that there are just so many police traps, this always happens solely in the interest of the "public safety," that is, the safety of the bourgeoisie, as the Constitution prescribes. In the sequel, both sides accordingly appeal with complete justice to the Constitution, the friends of order, who suspended all these liberties, as well as the democrats, who demanded them back. Each paragraph of the Constitution, namely, contains in itself its own antithesis, its own Upper and Lower House, namely liberty in the general phrase, suspension of liberty in the marginal note. So long, therefore, as the name of freedom was respected and only its actual realisation prevented, of course in a legal way, the constitutional existence of liberty remained intact and inviolate, however mortal the blows dealt to its everyday existence."

-- Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)


Anonymous said...


It's interesting to see that your posts on drinks at a party, jeopardy, and nina simone receive more feedback than this one. I'm not sure why that is. But I love the mix of your blog - the most thought-provoking I've ever read, by the way - and I love the fact that you continue to post thoughtful writing whether readers choose to respond to that kind of post or not. As the first comment on this post, without saying anything of meaning relating to the subject, I'd like to say thanks - there are still people reading EL these days. And even if we waste space with drivel like this, post a counter and see how many times we check back.

ZC said...

Joel, thank you for your comments, which are way too kind. I have to say I do like responses to my work, I really enjoy interaction, and I do wish that blog entries that I really poured myself into would get more feedback sometimes, as opposed to my more flippant observations. With the Jeopardy thread below I feel like my simple, offhand remark was misconstrued--and I'm not saying it wasn't my fault; maybe I just could't articulate myself very well. But it demoralizes me just a tad that the work I put into EL as a "project" may still not have shown up--that is, that others may try to insinuate me into a highbrow aesthetic elitism (maybe because I also like avant-garde films?), when I have tried to move beyond the question of having a brow-height altogether in order to understand and maybe one day also attack the real, material elitism of our global corporate culture.

But as long as people are willing to drop by this blog and read, well, if I want (more) feedback I have to figure out ways, as a writer, to elicit it. So hopefully I can work on that.