By Dustin Ells Howes
Argues that violence isn't any extra trustworthy than the other technique of carrying out politics.
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Additional info for Toward a Credible Pacifism: Violence and the Possibilities of Politics
However, extant uses of the word violence in modern and contemporary theory are so utterly slippery and amorphous that articulating a clear conception of it is essential to any effort to critique or challenge its utility. I begin by reviewing some of the contradictory ways that the term is employed. Drawing on Clausewitz, 35 36 T O WA R D A C R E D I B L E PA C I F I S M I then develop a notion of physical violence as the use of bodies to transform or destroy subjectivity. I conclude with some thoughts about the promises and limitations of this conception of violence.
I begin by reviewing some of the contradictory ways that the term is employed. Drawing on Clausewitz, 35 36 T O WA R D A C R E D I B L E PA C I F I S M I then develop a notion of physical violence as the use of bodies to transform or destroy subjectivity. I conclude with some thoughts about the promises and limitations of this conception of violence. SOME MEANINGS OF VIOLENCE We find remarkable ambiguity in the use of the word violence, both within and among crucial philosophical texts. The confusion usually surrounds the degree, importance, or nature of contextual and subjective factors as related to physical destruction.
In each of these texts the term is used in a way that suggests violence occurs when certain subjective relations inflect and inform bodily manipulations. The problem is that no political theorist offers us a coherent and generalized 40 T O WA R D A C R E D I B L E PA C I F I S M conception of these inflections that holds up across various contexts, philosophical or otherwise. BODIES AS A MEANS TO SUBJECTIVITY In chapter 1, I touched on Clausewitz’s theory of war, but he attests that his true aim is to develop a vocabulary to describe the nature of actual warfare and, in particular, how wars are won or lost.