Why the right's new strongmen are winning everywhere | Lea Ypi

From Brazil to Hungary, rightwing leaders are showing how they consolidate power: by twisting the law to their own ends

In Franz Kafka’s short story Before the Law, a man turns up at the gates of the law. He thinks that since the law is for everyone, he has a right to gain entrance, but meets a powerful gatekeeper who tells the man he must fight him in order to get in. The man prefers not to challenge the gatekeeper. He sits patiently outside the law, spending everything he has to win him over, making polite requests to be accepted but always failing to obtain permission.

Kafka’s story is a good metaphor for thinking about the relation between law and politics. The gates to the law are in theory always open. To be inside the law means to be recognised, represented and protected by the authorities that support and enforce it. Inclusion in the law, however, also requires fighting its gatekeepers, and doing so in the awareness that there are no guarantees of success. Law, in other words, depends on politics.

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