Synopses & Reviews
Niccolo 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. 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.