Violence and Civility

On the Limits of Political Philosophy

Étienne Balibar. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian

Columbia University Press

Violence and Civility

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Pub Date: October 2016

ISBN: 9780231153997

232 Pages

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Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780231153980

232 Pages

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Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9780231527187

232 Pages

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Violence and Civility

On the Limits of Political Philosophy

Étienne Balibar. Translated by G. M. Goshgarian

Columbia University Press

In Violence and Civility, Étienne Balibar boldly confronts the insidious causes of violence, racism, nationalism, and ethnic cleansing worldwide, as well as mass poverty and dispossession. Through a novel synthesis of theory and empirical studies of contemporary violence, the acclaimed thinker pushes past the limits of political philosophy to reconceive war, revolution, sovereignty, and class.

Through the pathbreaking thought of Derrida, Balibar builds a topography of cruelty converted into extremism by ideology, juxtaposing its subjective forms (identity delusions, the desire for extermination, and the pursuit of vengeance) and its objective manifestations (capitalist exploitation and an institutional disregard for life). Engaging with Marx, Hegel, Hobbes, Clausewitz, Schmitt, and Luxemburg, Balibar introduces a new, productive understanding of politics as antiviolence and a fresh approach to achieving and sustaining civility. Rooted in the principles of transformation and empowerment, this theory brings hope to a world increasingly divided even as it draws closer together.
Contemporary political thought has had little success moving from the empirical to the theoretical. This is what Balibar does so well in Violence and Civility by working with the concept of Gewalt, the conflation of power and violence. Donald M. Reid, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Nothing could be more of our moment than violence, which is to say that nothing is more in need of a proper and strenuous philosophical treatment. That's what you have in this erudite and brilliantly unpredictable book. Bruce Robbins, author of Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence
Violence and Civility offers both a probing philosophical exploration of the relationship of violence to politics and a political philosophy of 'anti-violence' responding to the structural and overt violences of capitalist modernity. Balibar's philosophical archive is extensive and deep—he thinks with Hobbes, Spinoza, Hegel, Weber, Luxemburg, Lacan, Derrida, and, of course, his beloved and inexhaustible Marx. Braided together by his singular philosophical imagination and passion for justice, Balibar's subtle readings result in nothing less than revolutionary political theory for the twenty-first century. Wendy Brown, University of California, Berkeley and author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution
There is no better diagnostician of the enigmas and aporiae of our political condition than Étienne Balibar. His great strengths lie in confronting paradoxes and contradictions that shape contemporary forms of governance and states of subjection. Violence and Civility is an exploration of the extremities of historical experience, reconfiguring the place of politics and proposing new forms of representation. This fine work extends his remarkable engagement with 'Equaliberty' and reveals the drama of dialectical practices that drive the lifeworlds of global transition. Homi Bhabha, Harvard University
Balibar is one of the most rigorous thinkers of contemporary politics... Balibar's reflections in Violence and Civility, as elsewhere in his work, are subtle and at times profound. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Preface
Introduction: Violence and Politics: Questions
1. From Extreme Violence to the Problem of Civility
2. Hegel, Hobbes, and the "Conversion of Violence"
3. "Inconvertible" Violence? An Essay in Topography
4. Strategies of Civility
Après-Coup: The Limits of Political Anthropology
Appendix
Notes
Index

Read the introduction, "Violence and Politics: Questions":

About the Author

Étienne Balibar is emeritus professor of philosophy at Paris X Nanterre and emeritus professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. He is currently professor of modern European philosophy at Kingston University, London, and visiting professor at Columbia University. His books include The Philosophy of Marx (1995); Spinoza and Politics (1997); and Equaliberty: Political Essays (2010).

G. M. Goshgarian has taught at universities in the United States, Armenia, Germany, and France, and he is the author of To Kiss the Chastening Rod. He has edited and introduced Être marxiste en philosophie by Louis Althusser and has translated four other books by Althusser into English. His recent translations from Armenian and German include Zabel Yessayan's In the Ruins, Hagop Oshagan's novel Remnants: The Way of the Womb, and Boris Groys's On the New.