In the wake of apartheid, Law and Sacrifice draws on the uniquely expansive protection of fundamental rights now entrenched in the South African Constitution to outline a new theory of law.
The South African Constitution not only protects the rights of people against abuses of power by the state, but also against abuses of power by private legal subjects. Drawing upon the work of contemporary thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, George Bataille, Jacques Derrida Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Nancy, the author elicits the radical democratic potential of this 'horizontal' notion of rights. Johan van der Walt argues that apartheid must be understood as more than a racist abuse of power, and here he articulates its 'sacrificial logic'. It is in going beyond this logic, he maintains, that the truly democratic potential of the South African Constitution can be understood: in a radical formal and substantive equality that offers the legal basis for rethinking a post-apartheid future.
Combining a rigorous theoretical understanding with a subtle political engagement, Law and Sacrifice is a dazzling interrogation of the limits and possibilities of democratic pluralism. It will be of interest to political and legal theorists as well as to those who are concerned with South African law and politics.