Love’s Law? The Principle of Anarchy in a Weakened Communism

  • Peg Birmingham
Part of the Contributions to Hermeneutics book series (CONT HERMEN, volume 6)


My essay looks at the status of love in Hermeneutic Communism. At the beginning of Chapter Three, Vattimo and Zabala refer to Rorty’s claim that the hermeneutical attitude is in the intellectual world what the democracy is in the political world and both can be viewed “as alternative appropriations of the Christian message that love is the only law.” They return to this notion of love further on, referring to a Nietzschean-Christian style, claiming: “Now that God is dead and the absolute truth is not credible anymore, love for the other is possible and necessary” (111-112). They go on to raise the question, “Can anyone continue to doubt that love for the other can coincide with a communist politics?” (112) I will explore their argument that love ought to be a replacement to the law, asking whether a politics of love allows for an alternative politics today. Is there not a long and bloody history of political love, a history of sacrificial violence in the name of love of god or love of country? The response could be, “yes, but this is not yet love of the other.” But are things any better when we love the other? First can we love the other? Secondly, does love replace the law or is the Christian imperative, “Love thy neighbor,” itself a form of law? Here I will recall Freud when he points to the ambivalence of human beings—love and hate--such that we need to be commanded to love? Finally, why the turn to political affections at all? If politics, as Arendt claims and whom the authors cite, is rooted in activity in concert with a plurality of others to create a public space,” then politically, would not a reflection on the kinds of political activities necessary for such a public space be more productive than for a hermeneutic communism? Taking up their reference to Arendt, my essay will conclude by finding resources within Hermeneutic Communism for an alternative to love, namely the notion of political action, which I claim is more productive for a communist politics. This last will raise the question of the status of political principles, specifically the status of the universal in this very important work.


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    Karl Marx. 1975. “On the Jewish Question,” in Karl Marx: Selected writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 65.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DePaul UniversityChicagoUSA

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