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Blood and Progress

Violence in Pursuit of Emancipation

Nick Hewlett

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How do we decide when violence in pursuit of emancipation is legitimate and what form – if any – should it take?

Every day, we hear about war, state repression, uprisings, suicide bombing, gang warfare, slavery and domestic abuse. Is it realistic to think of a future that is free from violence? And can we justify the paradox of violence in pursuit of a peaceful future? Nick Hewlett places the goal of a wholly peaceful society centre-stage to give us a new understanding of violence.

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1. Non-violence as an imperative goal
Modernity, liberalism and non-violence
The Post-war period in the West
Elias, Pinker and the ‘civilizing thesis’
Feminism, feminization and maternalism
Modern medicine

2. Capitalism, communism and violence
The other side of modernity
Communism and violence
US violence abroad since 1945
Structural violenceLate capitalism and its futures

3. Castro, humanism and revolution
History will absolve me
Cuba’s history of violence
Castro’s ethics of violence
Influences on Castro’s thought
Cuba and the USA
With and beyond Castro

4. Marx, Engels and the place of violence in history
Engels’s theory of Gewalt
Lenin and the October Revolution
The structural violence of modernity
(Re-)interpreting and complementing Marx and Engels’s ethics of violence
Balibar’s critique of Marx on violence

5. Terror and terrorism
Defining Terrorism
Terrorism from above, terrorism from below
The Middle East
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)

References and bibliography

About the Author

Nick Hewlett is Professor of French Studies at the University of Warwick.


Nick Hewlett’s Blood and Progress constitutes an engaging meditation on the paradox of violence for the sake of peace. [It] is part of a growing literature which acknowledges the regrettable necessity of constrained violence in some cases for progressive social change… The dominant view that positive social change necessarily stems from non-violent struggle does a disservice to the reality of history. Blood and Progress is not only an important corrective to such a view but also an informed guide on the way forward.

- Guy Lancaster, Editor of Arkansas History & Culture Encyclopedia at the Central Arkansas Library System, Political Studies Review

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