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Violence and power: a critique of Hannah Arendt on the 'political'
Philosophy & Social Criticism (2007)
  • Keith G Breen, Queen's University - Belfast
Abstract

In contrast to political realism’s equation of the ‘political’ with domination, Hannah Arendt understood the ‘political’ as a relation of friendship utterly opposed to the use of violence. This paper offers a critique of that understanding. It becomes clear that Arendt’s challenge to realism, as exemplified by Max Weber, succeeds on account of a dubious redefinition of the ‘political’ that is the reverse image of the one-sided vision of politics she had hoped to contest. Questioning this paradoxical turn leads to a critique of Arendt’s separation of violence and power and, consequently, her attempt to insulate a politics of friendship from one of hostility and coercion. However, political realism is not thereby affirmed. What is required, instead, is a view of the ‘political’ that accepts the interwovenness of violence and power but also emphasizes the normative ideals of moderation and care.

Keywords
  • Arendt the ‘political’ Weber realism power violence friendship enmity moderation
Publication Date
May, 2007
Publisher Statement
The original publication is available at http://psc.sagepub.com/content/vol33/issue3/
Citation Information
Keith G Breen. "Violence and power: a critique of Hannah Arendt on the 'political'" Philosophy & Social Criticism Vol. 33 Iss. 3 (2007)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/keith_breen/3/