neo-marxist social theory, feminist and critical political and social theory
In this essay, I employ the methodology of narrative jurisprudence to develop briefly some critical reflections on the nature and function of law in Northern Ireland, and in so doing to give voice to what bell hooks has called a "subjugated knowledge". In order to achieve this goal I will draw upon the interdisciplinary insights of neo-marxist, feminist and critical political and social theory, and psychoanalysis. In Part II, I will interpret my own experiences of law in Northern Ireland through the adumbration of neo-Marxist inspired theory of the nature and function of law in a western liberal democratic society. Particular attention will be paid to the legal dimensions of the Hunger Strike of 1981. Part 111 will explain that the juridical problems of Northern Ireland cannot be understood as solely a question of "terrorism" or the failure of the Rule of Law. The Rule of Law is an ideological ideal that obscures the way in which the politics of fear are imbricated in it. Consequently, there are irrational and unconscious factors, as well as rational, utilitarian and conscious considerations, that help to explain what happens in Northern Ireland. Part IV finally argues that an element of the solution to the problem is the recognition that neurotic fear is a fundamental dynamic of the Rule of Law and that until law is disconnected from fear, the spiral will continue. I will suggest that to begin to seek out an alternative vantage point on law, we should look to feminism. From this perspective, I will suggest that if law was made more a cognate of the ethic of care rather than hierarchy, if mutual responsibility and a valorization of "otherness" could trump hubris, then some tentative steps might be taken to decentre the impulse to Thanatos that underlies the Northern Irish legal system.
Richard Devlin, "The Rule of Law and the Politics of Fear: Reflections on Northern Ireland" (1993) 4:2 Law and Critique 155.