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The Virtues of ViolenceDemocracy Against Disintegration in Modern France$
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Kevin Duong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190058418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190058418.001.0001

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The Virtues of Violence in Times of Social Disintegration

(p.1) Introduction
The Virtues of Violence

Kevin Duong

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces redemptive violence and situates its appeal in a paradox intrinsic to modern revolutionary democracy: enthroning the people as sovereign came at the price of dissolving them into a multitude of abstract individuals. It focuses readers’ attention on redemptive violence in nineteenth-century French thought, outlines the structure of the book, and formalizes the book’s main claims. It shows why this book’s argument forces us to rethink inherited accounts of political violence, especially those generated during the Cold War. Where liberal antitotalitarian critics have drawn teleological connections between redemptive violence and totalitarianism, this chapter resists those connections to invite readers to consider what redemptive violence can reveal about democracy.

Keywords:   political violence, democracy, revolution, France, popular sovereignty, terror, democratic theory, political theory, republicanism, French republicanism

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