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Between War and PoliticsInternational Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt$
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Patricia Owens

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299362.001.0001

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Violence and Power, Politics and War

Violence and Power, Politics and War

(p.13) 2 Violence and Power, Politics and War
Between War and Politics

Patricia Owens (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter sets out and analyses Arendt's understandings of the basic meanings of politics and war, violence, and power. Her definition of power — a collective capacity that emerges between people as they act together — is supported through a number of historical examples. Her position on partisan warfare and the uses and limitations of revolutionary violence are contrasted with the important writing on these subjects by Schmitt and Fanon. Arendt shared with Clausewitz a view of war as an act of force whose essence is violent combat. However, political action, though sometimes occurring during wartime, is fundamentally different. Politics is full of conflict. But it is also limited by plurality, the very condition for speech and political action among equals. In contrast to post-structuralist accounts, Arendt maintained that a distinction between politics and war was indeed possible and necessary for there to be politics at all.

Keywords:   Arendt, partisans, resistance, instrumental violence, Schmitt, Fanon, Clausewitz, post-structuralism

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