chapter  1
52 Pages

The eye of the law: Reflections on a modern metaphor

The context painted by Schiller is clear: here the “safe citizen,” there the criminal evildoer who awakens under the cover of night to engage in his nefarious doings. The citizen’s sleep is protected by the well-ordered state,2 its law, and a police force committed to warding off danger and guaranteeing safety, and civilized by the Rechtsstaat (state under the rule of law). Trusting in the institutions, the citizen can close his eyes. The protection of the state relieves him of the need to worry.3 As the eye of the law keeps watch outside, the shadowy underworld and the state are embroiled in a kind of domestic war. Today, if a citizen becomes the innocent victim of a crime, he can demand compensation for the state’s failure to live up to its duty of constant vigilance.4