• From Force to Political Power: Frantz Fanon, M. K. Gandhi, and Hannah Arendt on Violence, Political Action, and Ethics

      Gordon, Lewis R. (Lewis Ricardo), 1962-; Gordon, Jane Anna, 1976-; Margolis, Joseph, 1924-; Schwartz, Joseph M., 1954- (Temple University. Libraries, 2014)
      This dissertation analyzes the problem of political violence in popular struggles for freedom and regime change. It seeks not only to explicate the different arguments for and against the use of violence in political struggle, but also the extent to which these various ways set the conditions for the political landscape after the struggle. To do that, I engage the arguments of Frantz Fanon, M. K. Gandhi, and Hannah Arendt. While these authors diverge with regard to the role of violence in popular struggles, all three conceptualize ways to achieve nonviolent politics or at least to reduce the role of violence in normal everyday politics. While Fanon and Gandhi offer viable diagnoses of the problem of violence and liberation, by stressing the structural and affective dimensions of political violence, Arendt challenges the traditional equation between political power and violence and offers an institutional alternative in her theory of a federated council system. My analysis reconstructs the link between the critique of violence (state, colonial, or mass violence) and the constructive theory of foundation and preservation of stability and effective relations of trust. These relations of trust are necessary to prevent recurring violence and escalation in the period following the struggle. By analyzing the intersections of violence, political action, and ethics in the work of Fanon, Gandhi, and Arendt, I provide a theoretical framework for understanding the role of violence in popular struggles and everyday politics, while avoiding the limitations of each theory. The aim of this study is threefold: first, to provide an alternative to the prominent positions of realism and moralism in political philosophy through an evaluation of ethical argumentation in politics regarding the problem of violence; second, to contribute to debates about political freedom, and sovereignty in democratic theory through examination of different solutions for the conservation of power and freedom in the transition from struggle to ordinary politics; and third, to develop a critical lens with which to examine situations of conflict and popular struggles, the place of violence, and the transition to ordinary politics. By way of conclusion, I demonstrate the relevance of this study through examination of a concrete case from the Middle East: the Egyptian revolution of 2011. The theoretical framework set by the multifocal debate provides a resource to analyze the promise and the ensuing crisis of the Egyptian project.