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A Study of Political Myth and Political Violence through the work of Georges Sorel, Walter Benjamin, and Carl Schmitt

Chwistek, Benjamin (2017) A Study of Political Myth and Political Violence through the work of Georges Sorel, Walter Benjamin, and Carl Schmitt. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Political myth and political violence are ignored by a large body of political theory. They are, moreover, not examined as related concepts despite their frequent theoretical interaction. This thesis shows the importance of both concepts to political theory, makes insights into their conceptual nature, and highlights the relationship between the two concepts. To do this, it examines the work of three thinkers who take political myth and political violence to be important concepts within political theory. Georges Sorel, Walter Benjamin, and Carl Schmitt, all utilise political myth and political violence within their theoretical work. While building on each other’s work, the three take distinct theoretical and conceptual approaches to both concepts. This thesis examines myth and violence within each of the three thinkers to gain insights into the thesis’ central issues. The thesis situates the thinkers within their broad and local historical contexts. It situates their work in opposition to much modern political theory, and opposed to Enlightenment views of politics as a myth and violence free sphere. It situates the thinkers, moreover, within the local context of early twentieth century Europe and the crises wracking both political theory and political life. The thesis highlights how violence can be understood as existing both within, and external to, political communities. It shows how myth continues to create meaning for individuals; finally, it highlights how the concepts relate to politics. Conceptually, the thesis argues that myth should be understood outside of the Enlightenment dichotomy of true/false and should not be understood as predetermined. It argues that violence should be understood in non-physical and non-bloody (as well as physical/bloody) ways. In so doing, the thesis shows why political theory should not ignore myth and violence, and how we might think more fruitfully about the two concepts and their relationship to politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Depositing User: Dr Benjamin Chwistek
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 11:55
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 11:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20488

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