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Social Philosophy Today

Volume 31, 2015

Power, Protest, and the Future of Democracy

Florian Grosser
Pages 71-81

In Search of the Good Revolution
Arendt on Violence and ‘the Social Question’

The paper concerns Hannah Arendt’s attempt to identify both historical types and conceptual understandings of revolution that can be considered to be genuinely ‘political.’ Its aim is to first reconstruct Arendt’s distinction between ‘political’ and ‘anti-political’ processes and conceptions of profound, lasting transformation. In this section of the paper, it will be shown to what extent the critical distinction she proposes is informed by her understanding of (a) the role of ‘the social question’ and (b) the role of violence for the praxis as well as the theory of revolution. In a second step, the focus will be on the problematization of certain aspects of her critique of political revolution that lead, as will be argued, to the counter-intuitive exclusion of a variety phenomena and theories as properly revolutionary. The final part of the paper will hint at the possibility of a productive re-appropriation of Arendt’s critique of political revolution.

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