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Justice and Divine Violence: Walter Benjamin and the Time of Anticipation

Abstract

In his “Critique of Violence,” Walter Benjamin seeks to rethink justice as the interruption of the juridical temporality, which is characterized by the relationship between means and ends. Benjamin imagines a form of violence that finds in itself its own criterion of rightness: divine violence emerges as a third kind of violence beyond both the state’s monopoly of violence and the binary opposition between violence and non-violence. I will read Benjamin in the historical-political context of the crisis of the state, democracy and parliamentarism in order to develop the idea of divine violence as a practice that interrupts the means-end relation and defends new forms of togetherness that are anticipated in the moment of a struggle.

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