George Sorel's Reflections On Violence

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George Sorel 's radical political philosophy can be characterized as deeply controversial not only because of its exact content, but also because of its historical role. On the one hand, his most famous book, Reflections on Violence, is a canonical text for the anarcho-syndicalist tradition. On the other hand, it was embraced by the fascist politics, for instance, by Mussolini. One of the most nuanced receptions of Reflections on Violence can be seen in 'Critique of Violence ', a remarkable essay by Walter Benjamin which he wrote in 1920. In this essay, Benjamin critically assesses the whole historical structure of the law by applying the explicitly Sorelian ideas of violence and the general proletarian strike. However, as I will try to demonstrate…show more content…
Sorel 's Radical Project Sorel was one of the most prominent figures of the French early 20th century Marxism, but he was radically opposed to the tradition of parliamentary socialism. Indeed, this disdain for parliamentarism is what he and Benjamin definitely share. In his most remarkable work, Reflections on Violence, Sorel fiercely attacks such figures as Jean Jaurès and other members of the French parliament. He views parliamentary socialism as a clear betrayal of the genuine Marxist principles, that is, of the commitment to the task of overthrowing capitalist state and economical system, instead of reforming it. Sorel 's Reflections on Violence is not a mere intellectual endeavor; rather, it is a revolutionary guideline. As Chiaria Bottici notes in A Philosophy of Political Myth, this Sorel 's text 'clearly has an activist intent: to develop a severe critique of the parliamentary socialists and their neglect of the primary role played by proletarian violence in history ' (Bottici 2007, 159). In Reflections on Violence Sorel tries to develop a specific revolutionary ethics which will be true to the genuine Marxism. He explicitly states that the task of his study is 'to deepen our understanding of moral conduct ' (Sorel 2004, 40). It is crucial that moral conduct is associated here with political practices and, ultimately, with proletarian
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