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6. Arendt’s Violence/Power Distinction and Sartre’s Violence/Counter-Violence Distinction: The Phenomenology of Violence in Colonial and Post-Colonial Context

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Chapter Summary

The theme of violence can be traced throughout Hannah Arendt's political writings such as The Human Condition and On Revolution where she draws connections between war, violence, and necessity; The Origins of Totalitarianism where she examines Europe's uses of violence in camps, as well as massacre and imperialism in Africa; and On Violence where she condemns the violence of the Black Power movement and anti-colonialism. This chapter presents Arendt's violence/power distinction and her claims about the uses of violence versus non-violence. It argues that this distinction is misapplied in the context of anti-colonial revolutionary violence and that Arendt misinterprets and misrepresents Sartre's and Fanon's analyses of violence. Contra Arendt one have argued that anti-colonial violence is a legitimate and justifiable response to the violent colonial system. Finally, the chapter considers the applicability of Arendt's distinctions in the postcolonial context, asserting that this cycle of violence is colonial, post-colonial and neo-colonial.

Keywords: anti-colonialism; Black Power movement; Hannah Arendt's political writings; violent colonial system

10.1163/9789004259782_008
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