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The Ambivalence of Gewalt in Marx and Engels: On Balibar's Interpretation

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This article is a reflection on Balibar's account of the concept of Gewalt in Marx, Engels and Marxism. The German term contains both the meanings of power and violence. At the centre of the analysis is the structural link between the notion of Gewalt and the capitalist mode of production and state-form. The problem is whether Gewalt can be understood in relation to the actions of the working class. Balibar rightly refuses any sort of counter-politics of power set against the power of the state which would retain the same overall logic as the latter. However, the question is how such a critique of the ahistorical ontology of violence can interact with Marx's idea of capital as a constitutively violent entity which threatens to subordinate to itself any stance of non-violence.

Affiliations: 1: University of Padua


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