A main objective of the criticallegal studies movement has been to develop a consciousness-based critique of the existing legal order, a critique that would show how prevailing legal ideas and institutions acquire social meaning and how this social meaning helps to constitute the social world. l This Article attempts to contribute to this effort by describing the way that existing legal thought both emerges from and helps to maintain the alienated character of our current social situation. Although my aim is to ex amine the relationship between the experience of alienation and the meaning of legal thought in general, I will place special emphasis on the meaning for alienated consciousness of believing in rights and the State. It will become clear that 1 do not think we ever are alienated entirely from one another, nor do I think legal concepts Iike "rights" by their very nature must have an alienated me aning; in fact, one of my goals in writing the Artic1e is to clarify the relationship between the effort to overcome our alienation, which I see as a fundamental aim of all progressive social movements, and the struggle over the meaning of law that this effort inevitably entails. But my emphasis will be on the alienated meaning of existing legal thought, because this meaning remains dominant in our culture, and because the failure fuHy to understand it has played some part in limiting the gains of potentially emancipatory social movements up to this time.