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    Reimagining the Social Bond: Review of Kevin Duong's The Virtues of Violence

    Mueller, Marieke and Jackson, Robert P (2022) Reimagining the Social Bond: Review of Kevin Duong's The Virtues of Violence. Theory and Event: an online journal of political theory, 25 (3). pp. 716-719. ISSN 1092-311X

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    Abstract

    Social contract theory has tended to associate violence with chaos, disorder, and irrationality. In The Virtues of Violence, Kevin Duong directs us towards an alternative lineage of “redemptive violence” that is inherently neither illiberal, nihilistic, nor anti-democratic. It responds rather to a problem identified with (nineteenth-century French) modernity: “democratization as an experience of social disintegration” (128). In various guises, thinkers have diagnosed the dissolution of inherited social bonds in the process of citizen-making as having the potential for social atomization and moral fragmentation. Redemptive violence derives its appeal from its attempt to regenerate or redeem a “thick” social bond, i.e., a form of fraternity or solidarity, enabling a multitude to achieve popular selfgovernment through unifying collective self-transformation. In the French Revolution, the imperial conquest of Algeria and the 1871 Paris Commune, images of redemptive violence are marshalled to constitute and redefine the boundaries of a sovereign “People.” For Duong, the French republican tradition is paradigmatic, because of the clarity and self-consciousness of its theorists, who made explicit these problems of democratization. This type of violence is of particular interest because it appears across the spectrum of political thought and therefore, he argues, speaks to the character of the modern democratic experience.

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