Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 28, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2022

Noel Boulting
Pages 37-62

Forms of Domination and Conceptions of Violence: A Semiotic Approach

By employing Peirce’s semiotics, Totalitarianism is distinguished indexically from forms of Dictatorship and Authoritarianism. The former can be cast, as Arendt argued, to initiate a project for world domination dispensing with any sense of Authoritarianism in forwarding some purely fictitious conception where violence is manifested in terror. Alternatively, distortion of intellectual activity may issue within Populism so that the rule of Demagogy emerges initiating Despotism or a form of Dictatorship – either Commissarial or Sovereign form – where lawless violence is sustained by secret police inducing fear but not terror. In the case of Authoritarianism induced iconically in a populace, violence may be tolerated accompanying either lawmaking or lawpreserving, both to be separated from Benjamin’s sense of pure violence. The latter – whether humanistically or spiritually understood – transcends both utilitarianism and sheer arbitrariness.