The jurists' manifesto

(from “Ritorno al diritto. I valori della convivenza”, n. 1, January 2005. For a revival of juridical study)

This is a journal aimed at jurists. Society, today, is complex and the juridical reasoning needed in order to regulate it can no longer be simplified, as it has been up to now, through techniques of law exegesis, systematic construction, and assessment of positive law, excluding from juridical questions the central issue of the justice of enactment of the law. The self-referentiality (in German, Isolierung) of juridical science has led jurists into a blind alley. Nowadays, many people, jurists and non-jurists alike, perceive the difficulty in using the law effectively. This journal, addressing legal experts, invites them, through this manifesto, to introduce radically new points of reference for juridical reasoning.

In particular, this journal urges reconsideration of the values of coexistence that became established in the law that flourished in the nineteenth century and were subsequently thrown into difficulty by the events of the twentieth.

Human dignity is the issue that makes it necessary for jurists to bring order to the current chaos of traditional bourgeois law. For this purpose, a distinction needs to be drawn between the continuity of values, or qualities of existence, and the continuity of the organisations and formations of power. The twentieth century put paid to the idea that society can be changed by a change in the organisation of power or in the collective consciousness regarding the exercise of power, i.e. revolution. “Only a God can save us”, concluded Heidegger. The alternative is to develop a new awareness: if man is to be saved, he must change the ethical behaviours adopted in the organisation of society. Accordingly, the law must be used on the basis of juridical assessments that, in turn, are based on ethical considerations. Today’s jurists must be made to appreciate the distinction and the conflict that separate conservatives who use the "juridical method" and innovators who want to change the very criteria and methods of juridical assessment.

This journal is also intended for non-jurists interested in understanding the scope for using the law in today’s world, because while the function of the jurist is to develop ideas, it is then up to society to evaluate, accept, and implement them. Today, there is no Prince that the jurist can advise, assist and serve. There is not even, as the old Marxists hoped, a single social class that he might spearhead or incite. Good juridical elaboration is elaboration that, based on an understanding of the changes taking place in history, describes the forms of use of the law in a manner that is coherent with the needs of social consciousness. The journal also addresses non-jurists who perceive differences in qualities of life and also the problem of justice in the use of the law, and who link values with existential choices.

The journal’s name is taken from the title of the manifesto. It was chosen to underline the fact that the law has not always been that which is currently called such, not only by non-jurists but also by experts in bourgeois law. The law, in fact, has not always been dependent on the power-driven decisions of the legislator.

In ancient tradition (a tradition to an extent lost as a result of jurists, for several centuries, being influenced by the legislator), the law was assessment based on a concept of justice driven by ethical values of coexistence really experienced by the community. This is what we would like it to become once again, because this is what is needed in order to adequately regulate the complexity of today’s society. It is not a question of changing the law, but of changing the way it is used.

Ritorno al diritto is the recovery of a history-based juridical culture that, because of the material conditions that have emerged in recent decades, it has become essential for jurists to have, and useful for non-jurists to understand and share.

Founded by Federico Spantigati and Giuliano Crifò and published by Franco Angeli, the journal is edited by Giuliano Crifò and is supported by the work of the following scientific committee: Simona Andrini, Gregorio Arena, Giuseppe Benedetti, Andrea Bixio, Vincenzo Buonocore, Paolo Benvenuti, Giorgio Berti, Umberto Breccia, Francesco Cerrone, A. Antonio Cervati, Nicola Colaianni, Pasquale Colella, Victor Crescenzi, Giuliano Crifò, Achille de Nitto, Carlo Desideri, Alfredo Gaito, Lucio Lanfranchi, Sergio Lariccia, Flavia Lattanzi, Nicolò Lipari, Andrea Manzella, Sergio Marchisio, Generoso Melillo, Carlo Mosca, Antonio Nasi, Sergio Panunzio †, Cesare Pinelli, Pietro Rescigno, Paolo Ridola, Federico Roselli, Cesare Ruperto, Enrico Spagnesi, Federico Spantigati †, Mario Tedeschi, Umberto Vincenti, Gustavo Zagrebelsky, Francesco Zanchini.