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Solidarity by Rupture:

Anti-Liberalism, Long Lost Longings, and


Lessons from our Evil Twins

The organizers of this conference invite us to ask “What are the blindspots and biases of those critical
approaches themselves, and how might a radical international law overcome them?” The repertoire of
anti-liberal critique, whether borrowing gestures from Nietzsche or Marx, whether positioned from the
Right or Left, is constrained by a limited number of critical moves. This form of critique, in all its forms, is
defined against a moving target called “liberalism” which sometimes comes within the same line of fire as
a target called “international law.” There is an image of liberal closure that radically diverse strains of
critique —luddite or futurist, scholarly or illiterate, authoritarian, self-disciplined or libertarian, post-colonial,
ambivalent, fundamentalist, and apollonian, Dionysian, revanchist, revolutionary, reactionary,
restorationist, revisionist, promethean, hip and critical, hypocritical, chauvinist, multicultural, primordialist,
anarchist, fascist, or aboriginal— gather to tear apart. What is the significance of the solidarity across
such incommensurable horizons?

In this paper, I wish to examine our own habits of critique by referring to three figures who remain
ideologically ambiguous, and whose critiques of International law, and International Criminal Justice in
particular are still contested: Tokyo Tribunal Judge Radhabinod Pal, anti-colonialist attorney Jacques
Verges and right-wing jurist Carl Schmitt. In examining these thinkers, who stand in relation to each other,
and perhaps to us, as "evil twins" we find they are both like us and unlike us in their transvaluation of
Western liberal values, couching their deconstructions in less overtly theoretical trappings of professional
legalism, aesthetic decadence, or chivalry. I turn to them to reflect upon our own critical repertoires. We
shuttle between closure and rupture: often skeptical of liberal legalism in its promise of “closure” and
taking recourse language and gesture of “rupture” appeal to both the romantic (venerable and authentic)
and the revolutionary (vital and spontaneous). The former offers security (not the kind with blackened
boots but a familiar blanket) and the latter offers possibility. We can pay attention to the lives and works of
Schmitt, Verges and Pal as they point out an irreducible antagonism between those who would shuttle
between romantic and revolutionary rupture and those who seek closure, and perform their own
ambivalences between radical realism and honorable legalism. If it is not shuttling between these poles of
critique, what is a "radical international law" and can it transcend even the habit of transvaluation?