chapter  3
14 Pages

Between Necessity and Contingency: Representing Legality as a Faustian Pact

This chapter argues that the use of legality to prevent violence is akin to a Faustian pact. The evidence examined ranges from the literary to the legal and theoretical. The minorities in question are the indigenous Australians and the coastal inhabitants of Kenya, both of whom pose broadly similar but contextually different challenges to state territoriality. These challenges to sovereignty reveal the sacrificial economy grounding the relationship between legal force and lawless violence. In the end the problematic triumph of law reveals the paradigm of legality as a Faustian pact. Which is to say that before the Faustian pact is resorted to, there is no conclusive proof of its necessity. Whenever it appears effective whatever it achieves could potentially have been realized without it. Once utilized, however, there is no objective proof of its contingency. It is in this way profoundly ambivalent.