Great Books: On Violence by Hannah Arendt

Arendt wrote On Violence in the sixties, when, apparently, students were rioting in your living room every third Thursday of the month. Much of the treatise deals with how society should respond to this unprecedented upswelling of popular feeling. How can government retain power in the face of this groundswell of popular abstention from the democratic process?

Oh right, just throw money at them and they'll turn into yuppies.

As a result of the sea change in world politics, the part of the book I found most interesting was the recap of Marxist social theory and her attempts to define 'power' 'violence', 'legitimacy' etc. and the relationships between them as they pertain to governments. The theories created in a world of two superpowers just don't seem as applicable now.

One section, however, worried me so much that after reading it I had to say 'motherfucker' out loud at a high volume several times. Luckily I was alone at the time.

"The much-feared boomerang effect of the 'government of subject races' (Lord Cromer) on the home government during the imperialist era meant that rule by violence in faraway lands would end by affecting the government of England, that the last 'subject race' would be the English themselves."

Motherfucker. Motherfucker motherfucker motherfucker.

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