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Unknowing the unknowable. From ‘critical war studies’ to a critique of war

Release date: 2016-05

Recent critical interventions challenge the Enlightenment critique of war as the radical antithesis of ‘peace’. The negation of war as an epitome of unreason is, indeed, dangerous to the extent that it tends to excite pacifying ‘wars against war’. Yet, what follows from this? The article argues that a popular counter-perspective, which conceives of war as a ‘tamed’ and reasonable exercise, itself premised on the imagination of an essentially antagonistic and generative political space, is just as dangerous. It constructs war as a real object of knowledge, a social reality. Asking whether the critique of ‘police war’ can be reconciled with a critique of the ontology of war proper, the article reads Walter Benjamin and concludes that we should return to the Enlightenment’s view of war as unknowable chaos and disorder. Only instead of negating and fighting war, a fundamental critique ought turn this perspective on its head and affirm war in its unintelligibility, its impossibility.

Please find the article here.