The text for this session is Walter Benjamin’s Critique of Violence and is presented by John-Erik Hansson.
You can see the text here: Benjamin – Critique of Violence
Writing in the context of the early years of the Weimar republic, Benjamin constructs here a moral critique of the idea of violence, and more specifically of political violence. In this text, he pays particular attention to the existing relationships between violence and the law. Political violence has therefore a law-making character, as well as a law-preserving character. These are embodied in various state institutions (the police, the army, parliament), but also in non-state actors: striking workers can be thought, in some circumstances, to be engaging in law-making violence. Benjamin closes his critique by distinguishing between mythical violence – and its law-making character – and divine violence, which is merely law-destroying and therefore operates at another, “purer” level.