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Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence

Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence


  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108426701

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About the Authors
  • Niccolò Machiavelli is the most prominent and notorious theorist of violence in the history of European political thought - prominent, because he is the first to candidly discuss the role of violence in politics; and notorious, because he treats violence as virtue rather than as vice. In this original interpretation, Yves Winter reconstructs Machiavelli's theory of violence and shows how it challenges moral and metaphysical ideas. Winter attributes two central theses to Machiavelli: first, violence is not a generic technology of government but a strategy that tends to correlate with inequality and class conflict; and second, violence is best understood not in terms of conventional notions of law enforcement, coercion, or the proverbial 'last resort', but as performance. Most political violence is effective not because it physically compels another agent who is thus coerced; rather, it produces political effects by appealing to an audience. As such, this book shows how in Machiavelli's world, violence is designed to be perceived, experienced, remembered, and narrated.

    • Readers can understand how Machiavelli's theory of violence relates to Roman and Renaissance political theory
    • Addresses both readers with an interest in Machiavelli and those concerned with contemporary debates about violence
    • Revises key assumptions about how political violence is thought to operate
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Winter's path-breaking study probes how violence actually works in politics. With Machiavelli as our guide, Winter shows us, strikingly, how little this political work has to do with the direct threat of physical coercion. Rather, the aim and function of political violence is profoundly public and performative; violence is meant to provoke an audience on symbolic and affective registers. This keen insight is explored through historically and conceptually nuanced discussions of Machiavelli's analyses of force, cruelty, and spectacle and the logic of princely, republican, and plebian violence.' Karuna Mantena, Yale University, Connecticut

    'Yves Winter places violence at the center of Machiavelli's thought by engaging insightfully with its many different manifestations and forms. In doing so, he demonstrates the conceptual and empirical impoverishment of contemporary theoretical discussions and envisions an alternative approach. This book not only makes an essential contribution to the Machiavelli scholarship, but also offers a decisive intervention into contemporary theories of political violence.' Jason Frank, Robert J. Katz Chair of Government, Cornell University, New York

    'An original and important study; Winter's book explains why Machiavelli was so fascinated by spectacular violence: he saw it as a conceptual 'order' equal to law, religion, and arms. Winter demonstrates its role throughout Machiavelli's oeuvre as a complex, polyvalent, and pedagogical language capable of radical popular challenges to elite hegemony.' Mark Jurdjevic, author of A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in Machiavelli's Florentine Political Thought

    'A tour de force: one of the most perspicacious contemporary investigations into the nature of political violence; an outstanding contribution to the recent wave of republican, populist and democratic readings of Machiavelli. With impressive originality, Yves Winter meticulously and exhaustively traces the multiple ways in which the Florentine's logic of violence plays out - in all of Machiavelli's major works.' John P. McCormick, University of Chicago

    'This book would be of great interest to a variety of scholars on Machiavelli, 16th-century political thought, and violence or non-violence studies.' T. Varacalli, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108426701
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Spectacle
    2. Force
    3. Cruelty
    4. Beginnings
    5. Institutions
    6. Tumults

  • Author

    Yves Winter, McGill University, Montréal
    Yves Winter is Assistant Professor of Political Science at McGill University, Montréal. His research is concerned with critical and historical approaches to violence and with imaginaries of political order. His work has been published in Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, Constellations, International Theory, Social Research, and New Political Science.

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