By Dustin Ells Howes
Argues that violence is not any extra trustworthy than the other technique of undertaking politics.
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Extra info for Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics
33 Adapting Clausewitz’s theory of actual war into a theory of violence requires acknowledging that the use of bodies for purposes does not always produce the contentious blow for blow dynamics that distinguishes war (as well as duels and wrestling matches) from violence more generally. Some victories are won more easily than others. ” However, Clausewitz’s conception can bear such a burden, in part because the distinction between the purportedly political nature of the public realm and the antipolitical nature of the private realm has been called into question (by feminists in particular) and in part because his own use of the term has such marvelous flexibility.
The same body that can launch a nuclear strike is vulnerable to the effects of radiation. Hobbes’s assertion that we are like bodies—that our bodies are all remarkably fragile—is affirmed by the existence of firearms, let alone more advanced weapons: the strongest body on the planet can be killed by the weakest with the relatively simple technology of the gun. Yet fragility cannot be reduced to the flip side of ability because, in the same way that the abilities of our bodies are in some respects extended into the world through the use of technology and by way of social organization, our bodies can be “protected” and privileged by way of technology and social organization.
Hobbes’s notion of fragility and ability is limited to our capacity to kill and be killed, but we can expand upon his minimalist claim to get a more full sense of our physical standing in relation to one another. That we are fragile and able is perhaps so much a part of our basic knowledge of what it means to be a body that, even in philosophy, where the obvious is frequently the center of discussion, it is usually of secondary concern. However, by honing in on what is happening to and with bodies in various works of modern and contemporary political thought, we can garner an expansive understanding of this aspect of our physical condition.
Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics by Dustin Ells Howes