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Reflections on Violence

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  143 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
In this controversial text, Sorel, a noted revolutionary, voices his belief in class warfare as a means of effecting lasting social change. His searching inquiry extends to the functions of violence, the sources of political power, the weapons of revolution, and the role of myths in converting and motivating people.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1908)
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263rd out of 285 books — 174 voters
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Mar 13, 2015 Gwern rated it it was ok
(131k words; 3h; WP) Prompted by my old lack of understanding of China Miéville's Iron Council, and an interesting mention in Graeber's Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology:

This was, it appears, because he identified anarchism mainly with the figure of Georges Sorel, an apparently quite personally distasteful French anarcho-syndicalist and anti-Semite, now mainly famous for his essay Reflections sur le Violence. Sorel argued that since the masses were not fundamentally good or rational, it was
Nov 16, 2007 Graham rated it it was amazing
I read this in the middle of having a nervous breakdown. It quickly (and disturbingly) became one of my favorites. It is a book that pacifists and non-pacifists should read alike because it brings up issues (involving tactics) that must be faced.

Also makes you wonder how much the whole 'revolutionary' process actually deceives the masses. After reading this, you will be better equipped to view with suspicion any and all calls for sweeping revolutionary change. Still, it promotes without any hes
Nicole Gervasio
May 21, 2012 Nicole Gervasio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I don't know why I have such an aberrant affection for this esoteric, polemical book of Western, French philosophy. Georges Sorel, to be blunt, died as a royalist anti-Semite who wasn't too kind to women intellectuals, either.

But there are some truly tide-changing aspects to his Reflections. Before reading them, I had never considered epistemological "violence" as a generative, galvanizing strategy that might disrupt "ideas" unquestioningly inherited from scholars and calcified to such an exten
Sep 24, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: PHM4340 - Contemp Pol Philo
Shelves: nonfiction, politik
I only read the sections my prof made me read.

I like Sorel b/c we hate the same things: sociologists, profs, logical explanations, following instructions. The fact that the entire book is based on a flimsy, almost hypocritical theory makes it seem like a waste of time, a heap of outdated rage directed against people who are now dead. So, it makes for perfect curriculum material, but it is relevant, or so my prof says anyway.
Luke Echo
He does waffle on a bit
OK, so this was written before Marxist revolution was truly put to the test, and, while this perhaps makes me a weak-spined reformist, the Soviet experience if anything emboldened the case for what Sorel would have condemned as "parlimentary" socialism. This isn't to say that revolution is an impossibility, but I can't think a successful revolution would follow Sorel's blueprint.

Sorel makes some very valid points-- the symbolic value of the general strike, for instance, is very compelling-- but
Sep 24, 2013 Subvert rated it really liked it
I ended up reading this book when I found it in a give-away library in one of Amsterdam’s social centers. I had heard of the book before, it’s one of those influential classics that probably almost nobody reads. As I’m quite interested in the question of violence for achieving social change, Sorel’s book on the functions of violence seemed relevant. Plus Sorel wrote about the role of myths in converting and motivating people, which sounded quite intriguing. And also the fact that Georges Sorel w ...more
Vanesa  Damonte
Apr 30, 2014 Vanesa Damonte rated it liked it
El tema era interesante, pero me resultó bastante aburrido en algunos puntos. No sé si tener que hacer la lectura crítica en un hotel a las 3 a.m. cuando debería estar disfrutando de unas mini-vacaciones tendrá algo que ver con eso. De igual manera, tengo que volver a encontrarme con este libro para el final de la materia, así que ahí le daré otra oportunidad. Y aprobé el trabajo práctico, así que eso suma algunos puntos a favor por el buen resultado de la lectura.
Sergei Moska
Apr 06, 2012 Sergei Moska rated it really liked it
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. I am usually unimpressed by books about anti-rationalist philosophy, mainly because I find that they tend to degenerate into nonsense at worst, and obtuseness at best. Not so here. Sorel is very clear in his description and advocacy of the use of "myths" in social movements, notably the (anarcho-)syndicalist movement of his time. This is a very fun book to read, and does not require much background other than a cursory knowledge of the Fre ...more
Left Sr
Sep 11, 2014 Left Sr rated it really liked it
Shelves: revolution
Don't mistake this for dry academic musing for Marxist theory- this is triumphant and bloodcurdling (and a bit bloodthirsty) paean to the powerful, militant, and self-confident proletariat. No matter what parties, politicians, leaders, and cadres have to say (and this book contains many a sly jibe at the various Socialist politicians of his day), Sorel says, the proletariat will win through the sheer apocalyptic force of class warfare. A bracing read, a good cure for leftists infected by pacifis ...more
Jun 06, 2011 A.C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent Marxist text that contains one of the few functional embodiments of communism in the form of (anarcho-)syndicalism. While some might not fully agree, this is the only way to actually get things to happen. It's a hard read, but it's a good read.
May 03, 2013 Cybermilitia rated it really liked it
Zaman geçtikçe, iddia ettikleri değil de, onlara nasıl ulaştığına dair kullandığı metodlar sebebiyle giderek sevmeye başladım bu kitabı.
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“For twenty years I strove to free myself from what I retained of my education; I indulged my curiosity by reading books less to learn than to efface from my memory the ideas that had been thrust upon it.” 4 likes
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