While the question of violence in general is daunting, when considered from the perspective of political theory, it immediately becomes more manageable through a focus on the relationship between violence and politics. In the history of political theory, this relationship has been formulated in different ways by three groups of thinkers. The first, which traditionally includes thinkers as varied as Niccolò Machiavelli, Max Weber, and Vladimir Lenin, is thought to have identified politics—or more precisely, political power—with force, domination, coercion, in short, violence. Hannah Arendt is emblematic of a second group of thinkers who share the definition of violence proposed by this first group while emphatically rejecting its association with political power. Arendt also rejects a third group of thinkers—whose clearest representatives are Georges ...

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