Law and Critique 22 (2):101-118 (2011)

In his essay ‘Critique of Violence’, Walter Benjamin subjects violence to a critique in order to establish the criterion for violence itself as a principle. His starting point is the distinction between law-positing and law-preserving violence. However, these are for him inseparable and subjected to the law of historical change: the history of the law is nothing but the dialectical rising and falling of legal orders. Benjamin’s analysis of legal violence and his criticism of parliamentary democracies, this article advances, should be related to the critical analysis of the possibilities for alternative politics in contemporary democratic rule of law states, as those advanced by Bernard Noël, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Rancière. For Benjamin, it is only law-destroying divine violence, whose principle is justice, not power, that is able to break this circle and open up a new era. Divine violence is, however, not only a provocative but also an extremely problematic, even dangerous, concept, as Jacques Derrida, among others, has claimed. This article considers, therefore, whether the concept of divine violence has any real political relevance in the contemporary era.
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DOI 10.1007/s10978-011-9084-3
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State of Exception.Giorgio Agamben - 2004 - University of Chicago Press.
Homo sacer.Giorgio Agamben - 1998 - Problemi 1.

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