This article looks at several attempts to conceptualize a legitimate use of revolutionary violence in the anti‐authoritarian revolutionary movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The central problem confronting the repertoire of action in this period lay in understanding how a violence deployed to fight power could avoid reproducing instances of this same power. Some, like Guy Debord, proposed a framework in which the revolutionary subject employs violence without becoming subject to such violence itself. Others, like Antonio Negri, sought to distinguish among various regimes of violence, arguing that true state violence was modally distinct from revolutionary violence, or the concrete materialization of a proletarian potentiality. Although opposed, both of these perspectives strive to mitigate or restrain the brutal subjectivation attending the exercise of violence. Placing this debate against the background of Walter Benjamin's claim, in his “Critique of Violence,” that a “divine violence” that would neither sustain nor uphold law is “undisclosed to human beings,” this article argues that the Autonomia movement in 1970s Italy reveals how such undisclosedness, such invisibility, becomes incarnated in a social form. If it is only by abandoning a concept of sovereign victory that a form of divine violence can appear, this is because its appearance coincides with the destitution of the cohesion of the social body upholding state sovereignty. Revolutionary violence is not nonviolence but, rather, a violence other than violence, a form of power whose content is a subjectivation beyond the problematic of sovereignty.
A Violence Other than Violence
Luhuna Carvalho's writing has appeared in Punkto magazine, Ill Will, and elsewhere. His writings on Italian political thought have recently appeared in Politics of the Many (2021) and La Rivoluzione in Esilio: Scritti su Mario Tronti (2021). He is currently preparing a book on Autonomia and operaismo. Depois da Lei, his first novel, was published in 2022.
Luhuna Carvalho; A Violence Other than Violence. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2023; 122 (1): 73–86. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-10242658
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