This paper questions the extension of the common notion of violence, i.e., “subjective violence,” involving the intentional use of force to inflict injury or damage, towards social injustice as “systemic violence.” Systemic violence is altogether unlike subjective violence and the work of Slavoj Žižek illustrates that conceptual obfuscation in this regard may lead to an overly broad and facile justification of revolutionary violence as counter-violence to systemic violence, appealing to the ethics of self-defense. I argue that revolutionary violence is only justified to counter subjective violence inflicted or organized by the state. Thus I reject in conclusion Žižek’s further defense of revolutionary violence as retributive and as “shock therapy” necessary to disrupt the old society.
van der Linden, Harry, "On the Violence of Systemic Violence: A Critique of Slavoj Žižek" (2012). Scholarship and Professional Work - LAS. Paper 248.