When I started writing this book, I had a very simple aim in mind, namely, to explore the relationship between arguably the two most significant, powerful and widely debated concepts in politics and political philosophy: violence and social justice. Sometime between the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s the focus of attention in political philosophy switched from being concerned with the nature and ethics of violence, to a yearning for social justice. Yet, surprisingly, there has been virtually no overlap between these two bodies of literature. Instead, the literatures on violence and social justice have diverged to such an extent that the problems of political violence have disappeared from mainstream political philosophy radar-screens. This book is therefore nothing more than an initial effort to embark on the process of closing the gap between the existing literatures on violence and social justice. If, as a result of this book, political philosophers in general, and theorists of social justice in particular, begin to pay more attention to issues of political violence, my efforts will have been repaid.
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