Sovereignty and Its Other: Toward the Dejustification of Violence

Sovereignty and Its Other: Toward the Dejustification of Violence

Timothy C. Campbell series editor
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 272
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Sovereignty and Its Other: Toward the Dejustification of Violence
    Book Description:

    In this new book, Dimitris Vardoulakis asks how it is possible to think of a politics that is not commensurate with sovereignty. For such a politics, he argues, sovereignty is defined not in terms of the exception but as the different ways in which violence is justified. Vardoulakis shows how it is possible to deconstruct the various justifications of violence. Such de-justifications can only take place by presupposing an other to sovereignty, which Vardoulakis identifies with radical democracy. In doing so, Sovereignty and Its Other puts forward both a novel critique of sovereignty and an original philosophical theory of democratic practice.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5137-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-12)

    The present examination of sovereignty rests on the axiom that the operation of sovereign power consists in the justification of violence. Justification is determined—for reasons that will become clear later—in terms of a means-and-ends relation.¹ Thus the question that structures the present study entails that both a descriptive and a normative extrapolation of sovereignty are outside its purview. Rather, the examination of sovereignty proceeds through the construction of a relational ontology of power that interrogates the way that means relate to the ends of power. The thesis I defend is that there are two distinct forms of relation.²...

    (pp. 13-40)

    The distinction between judgment and justification points to the aporetic link between law and justice at the heart of the concept of sovereignty. The reason that a delineation of the relation between law and justice is needed for a conceptualization of sovereignty is that there is no sovereignty without the establishment and exercise of a legal framework. But law for its part requires justice because, as Walter Benjamin succinctly expressed it as the axiomatic principle of his critique of power (Gewalt), “the most elementary relationship within any legal system is that of ends to means.”¹ It may be that the...

    (pp. 41-76)

    We saw in the first chapter that the democratic constitution prepared by Solon has a special provision, according to which “whoever when the city was in conflict did not join forces with either party was to be disfranchised and not to be a participant in the polis.” I suggested then that this is not merely a law that forces citizens to participate in the public affairs, but rather an exigency that functions as the basis of legality—it points to a sense of justice. It is through this image of participation, then, that a closer examination of ancient sovereignty can...

  7. 3 THE PROPINQUITY OF NATURE: Absolute Sovereignty
    (pp. 77-109)

    The importance of Machiavelli’s political theory, observes Michel Foucault, consists in raising the question, “How and under what conditions can a sovereign maintain his power?”¹ In the context of the early sixteenth century this question signifies a radical reworking of sovereignty. In ancient sovereignty the end justifies the means. This is reversed in modern sovereignty. The question of the perpetuation of the sovereign’s power is premised on the idea that the means justify the end. As Hobbes puts it in theLeviathan, “whosoever has right to the End, has the right to the Means.”² This reversal of the logical structure...

  8. 4 REVOLUTION AND THE POWER OF LIVING: Popular Sovereignty
    (pp. 110-152)

    The previous chapter opened with Foucault’s observation that the question animating sovereignty in Machiavelli is, “How and under what conditions can a sovereign maintain his power?” In the evolution from absolute to popular, the question of modern sovereignty remains largely the same. It is still a problem about how the means of power justify its ends. Power is still understood as actively created through human agency. At the same time, the question is posed in a slightly, yet significantly, altered form: How and under what conditions cansovereigntymaintain its power? The transition from “the sovereign” to “sovereignty” does not...

  9. 5 DEMOCRACY AND ITS OTHER: Biopolitical Sovereignty
    (pp. 153-199)

    The transition to biopolitics is characterized by the starting point of justification shifting to the side of the exception. Sovereignty, as described thus far, exhibits a consistent logic that justifies violence and that relies on the relation between means and ends. At the same time, distinctions between different forms of sovereignty are drawn, depending on whether justification privileges an end or the means—justice or the law. According to ancient sovereignty, the end justifies the means. This is articulated, as we saw, as the just war of the pilgrims against the pagans that Augustine describes in theCity of God....

  10. EPILOGUE: A Relational Ontology of the Political
    (pp. 200-204)

    Peter Brook’s assertion that theatre takes place when at least two people encounter one another in an empty space does not describe what is or must be present for theatre to exist. The filling of the empty with two bodies does not function as a predicate. Rather, Brook delineates a complex set of relations. Theatre happens when relations unfold between at least two people. What matters is not the mere presence, but rather the operative presence of two people in the empty space. What matters is how the two people relate—how one waits in the empty space, watching the...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 205-246)
    (pp. 247-264)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 265-270)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-274)