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Arendt – On Violence (extract) | Classics
Arendt, H. (1972). On Violence. In Crisis of the Republic (pp. 114-133). New York: Harcourt. The more dubious and uncertain an instrument vio­lence has become in international relations, the more it has gained in reputation and appeal in domestic affairs, spe­cifically in the matter of revolution. The strong Marxist rhetoric of the New Left coincides with the steady growth of the entirely non-Marxian conviction, proclaimed by Mao Tse-tung, that "Power grows out of the barrel of a gun." To be sure, Marx was aware of the role of violence in history, but this role was to him secondary; not violence but the contradictions inherent in the old society brought about its end. The emergence of a new society was pre­ceded, but not caused, by violent outbreaks, which he likened to the labor pangs that precede, but of course do not cause, the event of organic birth. In the same vein he regarded the state as an instrument of violence in the command of the ruling class; but the actual power of the