Negotiating the Lines Between Violence and Politics: Machiavelli’s gendering of war and peace
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This paper investigates the ways in which Machiavelli relates and distinguishes the conditions and virtues of politics and war. The paper begins by exploring the question of the extent to which Machiavelli identifies political with military virtù, and how he configures the relationship between the republican polity and the military. It draws out the ways in which politics and war are both the same and different in Machiavelli’s account. This poses a problem for contemporary commentators who wish to draw clear distinctions between politics and war in explaining and evaluating politics inside and outside of the state. The paper then goes on to argue that the most productive way to read this sameness and difference is by resisting the temptation to read the relation between politics and war either as one of identity or in binary, oppositional terms. I suggest that one way of resisting these twin temptations is by re-thinking the meaning of gendered reference points in Machiavelli’s analysis, which have often been used to reinforce either/ or choices, between Machiavelli as ‘republican’ or, in Hanna Pitkin’s stark terms, as ‘protofascist’ (Pitkin 1984: 4). A more flexible reading of the meaning of gendering in Machiavelli’s work, allows for a more complex understanding of the overlapping meanings of politics and war, and guards against tendencies to give causal or evaluative priority either to the international or to the domestic sphere in explanatory and normative international theory.