I've been wrestling with Derrida's massive, somewhat disturbing essay "Force of Law" for a week or so, not only reading the essay but turning over its questions and its analysis in my head--I must have started and stopped about five or six posts on it (a rare instance where what is on my mind won't directly make it to this blog). The essay attempts two tasks, really, or situates itself between them, in the space and time in which they both overlap and exclude each other: first, an analysis of the relation of deconstruction(s) to law and justice, second, an analysis of Walter Benjamin's "Zur Kritik der Gewalt" ("Critique of Violence") that interprets his work on violence in the light of what it could or could not say about the Holocaust.
But ultimately unproductive, I think, even if one disagrees with Derrida's conclusions. In Derrida's willingness to critique Benjamin (and extend by suggestion this critique to some central concepts within Benjamin's oeuvre), he reminds us that this is reading (or not-reading) against Benjamin's own theses on the identification with a personality-figure at the head of fascist states. But in a deeper manner, he reminds us that the real desire to identify with the cause of someone like Benjamin really lies in a desire for solidarity in a politico-juridico-ethical position against forces that destroy life without legitimacy or even with legitimacy. Foremost in this desire for solidarity that brings forth the personality of Benjamin instead of his texts is a desire, then, for a position. And specifically a position as a guarantee, a guarantee that "I am just," (237) or even (and perhaps especially) "we, and not they, are just." Here is the link back to the law and to justice I suggested that this digression would somewhat elucidate, and the reason why ultimately Benjamin needs to be not just followed but always reread. The guarantee against the risk of a destruction of life of even immense proportions: this is what is sought in a "position" that would refuse to think the somewhat aberrant nature of Benjamin's "Critique of Violence" with the rest of his texts (if not with the larger concerns like fascism that we use his critiques to critique), that would preserve the figure of Benjamin above and beyond all concern for whether what Benjamin says could be said more coherently, that would pit the guarantee in the name of Benjamin against the real possibility that in covering up the sight of the risk one could become complicit with it. This risk, Derrida reminds us, is essential in any position that could deserve the status of a "position:" to dilute its reality through a guarantee would indeed mean that a position could become perhaps more stable and opposed to the destruction of life, but it does not mean that it can interrogate it more responsibly and in fact remember, mourn, and prevent it. The position, for Derrida, must deconstruct itself: it cannot be a position at all, but must be a continual insistence on rereading, a love of rereading. This does not mean that any position is problematic, but only that a position that could do what it professes to do would be impossible. (Thus compromising within the politico-juridical-ethical domain Derrida does not oppose: when it takes the form of a compromise to "take up a position," however, he sees it as dangerous, because it comes with the clause that we do away with rereading, with the singular risk.)
Situating himself within this impossibility as much as he can, Derrida reads Benjamin against Benjamin, shows how the discourse of Benjamin itself refuses to engage this impossibility, this risk, and thus becomes complicit with the type of destruction that a position as clearly articulated as Benjamin's is supposed to prevent: the destruction of someone thinking "I am just" or "we are just." It is for this very specific reason that he reads Benjamin within the context of the Holocaust.
I apologize if I moved too quickly, especially with regard to how Derrida thinks of "complicity:" obviously Derrida is not saying that we need to submit thinkers to a test, the criterion of which would be atrocity. He is trying to show that complicity means a shutting down of reinterpretation, of deconstruction, through the setting up of a position that would supposedly be fixed and stable and just. The link then between a figure like Benjamin and an event like the Holocaust would hinge on the proscriptive "positioning" of several of Benjamin's articulations, how his discourse is actually inconceivable without a fixing of a position on a particular issue. That is, Benjamin's concepts must foreclose at a certain point a their own coherency in order to use them to give a position: Benjamin's articulation itself is inseparable from this foreclosure. This is what Derrida means when he says, in a postscript to the essay, that Benjamin mobilizes a discourse of authenticity too much for him. It is not that the authentic is itself bad, but that there is too much of it: enough that it ends up sacrificing coherence for the setting up of a politico-juridical-ethical position. Here the this preliminary sketch would expand, but perhaps another time--let's move on. All this noted, this does not mean that Derrida is saying that fluidity must be preserved for its own sake. He is arguing in favor of an accountability for a risk which is the condition of justice and also of injustice, the individual event in its undecidability. I also apologize for moving too quickly with such sensitive issues, and for not getting to the law an justice as much as I should. I'll take these up later, perhaps. I hope though that I've somewhat shown the interconnectedness of both concerns of the essay in some way. This is all not yet to agree with Derrida and what he says, but to prepare a better reading.