Liberal Violence: From the Benjaminian Divine to the Angels of History

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Abstract

While the latter part of the 20th Century was defined by the great revival in liberal fortunes, the liberal wars of the past decade or so have put the project into evident crises. As liberal ways of violence increasingly takes place at a distance, new justifications are put forward regarding these new modalities of violence, along with its political and philosophical rationalisations. This raises a number of pressing questions. Not least, how might we deconstruct these new modalities to provide a meaningful diagnostic of the changing political fortunes of liberal rule? Drawing upon Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence, this paper addresses the changing nature of liberal forms of violence to address the lethality of its freedoms. In doing so, the paper asks: How does this lethality demand a fundamental reassessment of the theological paradigms of the modern? And how may we further question the relevance of Benjamin as a critical theorist of violence as liberalism now faces what seems to be an irresolvable crisis of its own making and ambitions?
Original languageEnglish
Article number607272
JournalTheory & Event
Volume19
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2016

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