Robert Sinnerbrink
Macquarie University
This essay presents a critical interpretation of Derrida’s deconstructive reading of Walter Benjamin’s text, "Critique of Violence." It examines the relationship between deconstruction and justice, and the parallel Derrida draws between deconstructive reading and Benjamin’s account of pure violence. I argue that Derrida blurs Benjamin’s distinction between the political general strike and the proletarian general strike. As a consequence, Derrida criticises Benjamin’s metaphysical complicity with the violence that lead to the Holocaust. Derrida’s deconstructive reading of Benjamin, I conclude, underplays its Marxist dimensions, privileging the theological and textual dimensions of Benjamin’s thought over the political and historical.
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