Kristof K.P. Vanhoutte 1
  • 1 Pontifical University Antonianum, 124 via Merulana, Rome, 00185, Italy

“Oh God! What a Lovely War”: Giorgio Agamben’s Clausewitzian Theory of Total/Global (Civil) War

2015, vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 28–43 [issue contents]
When Carl von Clausewitz’s statement that “war is a mere continuation of policy by other means” was inverted by Michel Foucault into “power is war, the continuation of war by other means” during his course entitled Il faut défendre la société,the already-growing interest in von Clausewitz skyrocketed. However, the enormous interest in this particular dictum overshadowed many of the even more intriguing observations discovered and diagnoses made by the Prussian general. The present text aims to investigate one of the less-famous pronouncements made in von Clausewitz’s On War. This pronouncement regards the ‘law’ of the ‘escalation to extremes’ that is inherent to every war (a war becomes the war, becomes all or total war). This ‘law’ has received little interest, although it can be considered much more worrisome than von Clausewitz’s more famous dictum. However, it has been recently rediscovered and discussed by the late French philosopher René Girard, and, as will be argued in this text, can be considered as the spectral heritage of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s political philosophy. Although Agamben seldomly mentions the Prussian general (his main influences, Debord, Arendt, and Schmitt, however, often do), the discovery of the spectral kinship between Agamben and von Clausewitz allows us to consider Agamben’s philosophy of the state of exception and total/global civil war from a new and more provocative angle.
Citation: Vanhoutte K. (2015) «Prostite! na voyne byvayut svoi dosugi pesni smekh...»: Traktovka Dzhordzho Agambenom teorii total'noy/global'noy (grazhdanskoy) voyny Karla fon Klauzevitsa [“Oh God! What a Lovely War”: Giorgio Agamben’s Clausewitzian Theory of Total/Global (Civil) War]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 14, no 4, pp. 28-43 (in Russian). DOI: 10.17323/1728-192X-2015-4-28-43.
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