Read On Violence by Hannah Arendt Free Online

Ebook On Violence by Hannah Arendt read! Book Title: On Violence
The size of the: 445 KB
Edition: Harvest Books
Date of issue: March 11th 1970
ISBN: 0156695006
ISBN 13: 9780156695008
The author of the book: Hannah Arendt
Language: English
Format files: PDF

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This book makes clear that Arendt is amazingly well read... Though, given 50 years, I am always amazed at how much more we are supposed to read (and often how much less we do) as modern academics and students rather than academics in the 1950s and 60s.

While I can see the relevance of Arendt's writing on this subject in reference to the time the book was published and in response to authors like Sorel and Fannon, unlike many of the other reviewers I am not a fan of this book. Her, at times polemical, arguments do not clarify anything for me and don't promote learning through questioning, they replace erroneous concepts with more erroneous concepts. Her book, rather than clarifying the way terms and concepts could be used or leading us to interesting ideas, is full of frustratingly confounded and under-developed concepts.

The basic premise of the book is that a "lack of power begets violence." While this is an interesting beginning, it relies on mistaken understandings of power and violence and simply reveals how writers like Lukes and Foucault were sorely needed to revolutionize the concept of Power; how thoughts of resistance had yet to filter through from Brechtian theater to James Scott's peasants and academic debate; and how writers like Kalyvas and Galtung are crucial for the current clarification and study of violence.

Power is lamely described as the “human ability not just to act [individually:] but to act in concert with.” (44) This is what Lukes would call a one dimensional power concept. It does not confront how power reflects who wins the game, who makes the rules of the game, and how the rules are internalized. Indeed, it barely hints at the coming understanding of power as entitlements (the power to the good life, Sen). She boils this further down through confused definitions of strength, force, and authority until she reaches the conclusion that Power is fundamentally 'political consensus and legitimacy.' Violence is never clearly defined. Though, it becomes obvious that she is referring to corporeal violence, with broad application of violence within other modes of political action. With these concepts she cannot confront structural or cultural violence, or even oppression and resistance.

Working off the premise that power is control (guaranteed through political consensus) she points to physical violence as a symptom of lost power or changes in power (that is lost consensus or changes in consensus). Because Power is conceptualized only as 'civitas' and consensus (really she fails to clearly present this argument), she misses the role of physical violence as a way to ENFORCE power, the strategic application of violence to maintain or gain power (Kalyvas, see Eastern Congo), and falls back on a sort of Hobbesian view of the world... without order there is chaos and violence. Rather than see violence as a lack of power, we should see the role of violence as a strategy to maintain and gain power, as fundamental to power, as common in transitions between power, and in the loss of consensus. Then we can find ways to minimize physical violence by doings such things as promoting social justice in the face of institutional violence and prejudices, facilitating peaceful political and economic changes, and engendering consensus.

Where there is a lack of incentives to use physical violence and a capacity to reach real social and political consensus through nonviolent means, I would imagine that direct physical violence would be less prevalent. I imagine this is what Arendt wants to say, but she ultimately misdefines "power" and under theorizes "violence".

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Ebook On Violence read Online! Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975. She is best known for two works that had a major impact both within and outside the academic community. The first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was a study of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that generated a wide-ranging debate on the nature and historical antecedents of the totalitarian phenomenon. The second, The Human Condition, published in 1958, was an original philosophical study that investigated the fundamental categories of the vita activa (labor, work, action). In addition to these two important works, Arendt published a number of influential essays on topics such as the nature of revolution, freedom, authority, tradition and the modern age. At the time of her death in 1975, she had completed the first two volumes of her last major philosophical work, The Life of the Mind, which examined the three fundamental faculties of the vita contemplativa (thinking, willing, judging).

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