Wars of Excess: Georges Bataille, Solar Economy, and the Accident in the Age of Precision War

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Both classical and critical studies of warfare often comment on the relationship between war and excess. However, even in richly theoretical work, this connection is unanalyzed. This article focuses on the link between excess and war, and seeks to deepen our understanding of why excess reappears so frequently in the study of armed conflict and security studies. Specifically, the article turns to the work of Georges Bataille, an overlooked figure in the critical tradition, who extensively theorized linkages between excess and war. In Bataille’s thought, excess is a key term for explicating the design, mobilization, and transformation of war. Moreover, Bataille sees the exposure to excess as playing a key part in social attachments to violence and armed conflict. The article unpacks how Bataille theorizes excess and applies his insights to the context of precision warfare. Using the case of the accident in the era of precision war, it reveals how Bataille anticipates many of the dynamics that structure late warfare through his understanding of excess. The article concludes by describing how Bataille’s vision of excess would challenge critical war and security studies literatures in relation to the problems of war experience, relationships to death, and scholarship.

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Security Dialogue



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