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Christiaan Boonen

In this chapter, we will tackle the problem of political violence in the work of Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval. Eventually this leads to a more general reflection on the politics of violence in the commons literature. In the first section of this chapter we determine which concept of politics is present in the revolutionary politics of Dardot and Laval and show that they cannot account for the relation between politics and violence. More specifically, we will construct a brief genealogy of the concept of political power inherent in the concept of the common. This is done in order to show how this concept of power makes the violence/non-violence dilemma disappear before it can rear its head. This view will then be confronted with Étienne Balibar’s work on the concept of civility, which places precisely these questions at the centre of the politics of social transformation. In the second section we sketch the dynamics of power and violence that result from a conflict between the state and the politics of the common. We do this in order to show that political violence is a problem that should be accounted for in the commons literature. In the final section, we explore the role violence can play and, more importantly, should not play in a revolutionary situation. This will lead to a concluding reflection on the role of self-defence in the politics of the common.