Is politics necessarily violent? Does the justifiability of violence depend on whether it is perpetrated to defend or upend the existing order - or perhaps on the way in which it is conducted? Is violence simply direct physical harm, or can it also be structural, symbolic, or epistemic? In this book, Elizabeth Frazer and Kimberley Hutchings explore how political theorists, from Niccolo Machiavelli to Elaine Scarry, have addressed these issues. They engage with both defenders and critics of violence in politics, analysing their diverse justificatory and rhetorical strategies in order to draw out the enduring themes of these debates. They show how political theorists have tended to evade the central difficulties raised by violence by either reducing it to a neutral tool or identifying it with something quite distinct, such as justice or virtue. They argue that, because violence is necessarily wrapped up with hierarchical and exclusive structures and imaginaries, legitimising it in terms of the ends that it serves, or how it is perpetrated, no longer makes sense. This book will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars in areas ranging from the ethics of terror and war to radical and revolutionary political thought.
'This excellent book offers a very careful, systematic and immensely readable introduction and analysis of the intersection between violence and politics, from Machiavelli to the present day.' Vittorio Bufacchi, University College Cork, Ireland