Sunday, July 18, 2021

Hannah Arendt On Violence - summary and review

Hannah Arendt's book On Violence is an investigation into the nature, reasons and extent of violence from the 1950s to the present day. Arendt also gives an analysis of the association that exists between war, politics, violence and power. 

In the book "On Violence", Arendt puts forward a number of arguments to analyze the issue of violence in the second half of the twentieth century. Her writings were addressed to two audiences: authorities who sought corrective measures to restore calm to American campuses and students who were creating turmoil across the country. She argued that authorities have the capacity to resist violence if they use the power vested in them appropriately. The consequence of his arguments was to illustrate the unreasonableness of the New Left's grip of violence as an end in itself or even as a means to effect a transformation in the power structure. Arendt condemned the failure of New Left activism to understand Marxism and further demonstrated that they base their ideas on turmoil for unsustainable reasons. 

Arendt's main argument was that the theories that equated violence with power were wrong. The book explains that the old perception of violence, reinforced by the Judeo-Christian custom of an angry God, was illogical because violence primarily imposes conformity through physical coercion. Arendt supported her position by asserting that violence is most of the time vital to the service of power and as such can never be the foundation of governance. Rather, she argued that power is the ability of a social entity to act in concert and that it enables individuals to work together; it is therefore the essence and the end of all governance.

 On Violence is concerne with the current historical context in which acts of violence occur on a daily basis. In writing the book, Arendt wanted to examine the acts of student violence that ravaged various learning institutions in the United States and around the world in the late 1960s. Although the book was written around this time, it is a true representation of the acts of violence that are still common in our contemporary society. Socially, Arendt argues that those who lack adequate power most of the time try to control or exert influence over others by using violence. Thus, violence helps individuals to manage or temporarily exercise their will over others. Economically, Arendt is concerned about the use of violence to restore economic power. A state may wish to increase the sphere of its economic influence by using violent means if it feels its strength is waning. 

Violence is generally used in our contemporary society as a means of maintaining power. The text offers an examination of violent behavior with the aim of understanding the mechanisms that can lead to the improvement of the human condition. In the book, she says, “Violence can always destroy power; from the barrel of a weapon develops the most effective command, resulting in the most instantaneous and perfect obedience. What can never come out of it is power ”(Arendt, 53). Therefore, in the process of peace and conflict resolution, it is important to understand the difference between power and violence to avoid new conflicts. In addition, the book advocates for conflict resolution by peaceful means as this will ensure the satisfaction of all parties to the conflict, and it is an essential part of peace studies. Additionally, it is important to note that the book does not attempt to prevent individuals from taking action, but it does warn that using violence to resolve conflict is ultimately not beneficial. 

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