Violence Without End

As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, The New York Review of Books has been digging into their archives, and recently showcased Hannah Arendt’s classic 1969 essay, “Reflections on Violence.” This passage seems especially relevant:

Violence, being instrumental by nature, is rational to the extent that it is effective in reaching the end which must justify it. And since when we act we never know with any amount of certainty the eventual consequences of what we are doing, violence can remain rational only if it pursues short-term goals…

[T]he danger of the practice of violence, even if it moves consciously within a non-extremist framework of short-term goals, will always be that the means overwhelm the end. If goals are not achieved rapidly, the result will not merely be defeat but the introduction of the practice of violence into the whole body politic. Action is irreversible, and a return to the status quo in case of defeat is always unlikely. The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.

Recent Dish coverage of the new film about Arendt here and here.