Fighting for peace: from the social war to armed democracy

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The canonical theories of war divide between the account linked with Hobbes and Kant, which supposedly sees war as the opposite to civil society, and that of Clausewitz which sees war as continuous with politics. This chapter analyses these thinkers to show that their accounts were (often tmintentionally) more ambiguous than is usually thought. The consequence is that modem and postmodem acc01.mts of war from Freud to Derrida, which see war as paradoxical, both incited and refused by society, offer compelling insights into what war has been for western modernity. This account of war as 'double' has major consequences for our thinking about the relationship between war, on the one hand, and democracy and human rights, on the other. Democracy, for example, can be seen both to require and refuse violence and war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-21
Number of pages19
JournalAt the interface/probing the boundaries
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • War
  • Derrida
  • deconstruction
  • Levinas
  • democracy
  • human rights
  • Carl Schmitt


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