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Punishment and InclusionRace, Membership, and the Limits of American Liberalism$
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Andrew Dilts

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262410

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262410.001.0001

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To Kill a Thief

To Kill a Thief

(p.85) 4 To Kill a Thief
Punishment and Inclusion

Andrew Dilts

Fordham University Press

This chapter gives a close reading of Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, demonstrating the deep connection between punishment and membership in the Western liberalism. This reading reveals how punishment and membership are inextricably linked through criminal subjectivity and political membership in early modern thought. Focusing on Locke’s usage of the “thief” as a central figure of his political thought and the fear of highway robbery as a motivating force, this chapter demonstrates how liberal political orders are rooted in unstable terms of proportionality. Moreover, this chapter shows how the difficulty and instability of punishing transgressors is managed by producing subjects who can be so punished to make the foundational violence of civil society palatable. In doing so, the chapter questions the stability of the distinction between war and crime in the liberal tradition.

Keywords:   John Locke, subjectivity, proportionality, liberalism, thief, highway robbery, foundational violence, punishment, membership, crime, war

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