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date: 17 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Freud’s reflections on death and the death drive form a proper part of political philosophy. If the idea of a self-governing polis requires that citizens maintain a set of social bonds, then the threat to social bonds also threatens the possibility of self-rule. Freud identifies a destructive impulse or drive as part of the human psyche, clarifying that it has the specific capacity to destroy social bonds. This chapter considers the importance of ambivalence as a permanent feature of love relations and those social relations that form the basis of political life. It argues that a political effort to counter destruction must call upon the resources of melancholia, including the manic refusal of tyranny and a normalizing reality principle. Defending the idea of militant pacifism, the argument here suggests that aggression can be—and must be—part of the strategy against violence and the sustainable future of political life.

Keywords: death, death drive, love, Eros, politics, political philosophy, melancholia, mania, pacifism, war

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