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Political Violence. Amritsar, India, April 13, 1919: gZPIi8E gZPIi8E.

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Presentation on theme: "Political Violence. Amritsar, India, April 13, 1919: gZPIi8E gZPIi8E."— Presentation transcript:

1 Political Violence

2 Amritsar, India, April 13, 1919: gZPIi8E gZPIi8E

3 “The Warsaw Song” Anthem of Russian revolutionaries, 1917 (listen to audio) “Hostile storms are raging over our heads. Dark forces are viciously oppressing us. We have engaged our enemies in a fateful battle, And our destinies are not to be known. But we shall raise, proudly and bravely, The banner of the struggle for the workers’ cause The banner of the great struggle of all nations For a better world, for sacred freedom! Refrain Onward to bloody battle, holy and righteous! March, march onward, working people!”

4 “We hate the tyrants’ crowns. We will break the chains holding the suffering people. We will redden the thrones, covered with the people’s blood, With the blood of our enemies. Death without mercy to all tyrants! To all parasites feeding off the working masses! Vengeful death to all plutocratic rulers! The glorious hour of victory is near! Refrain Onward to bloody battle, holy and righteous! March, march onward, working people!”




8 “A stone is a worker’s weapon”, by Russian sculptor A. Shadr

9 Russia, 1905: Mutuny on the battleship “Potemkin”

10 Armed citizen militia replaces the police in the Russian revolution of 1917

11 Chinese Communist poster from the 1950s: Mao Zedong calling for revolutionary war

12 “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”  Thomas Jefferson “Violence is the midwife of history.”  Karl Marx

13 Political violence is the use of force for political ends Force is one of the tools of power People use force in:  Exercise of power  Struggle for power Extreme means Justifications of political violence Claiming the right to use force – in the name of:  Survival, self-defence  Order  Justice  Freedom Possession of resources (land, water, people, etc.)? Access to markets?

14 Violence is abhorrent But can there be politics without violence?

15 Exercise of power The state has a legitimate monopoly on the use of force The use of force is supposed to be regulated by law  Lawful use of force  Unlawful use of force How precise is the distinction? Who defines it?

16 Those in power have advantages in defining when they may lawfully use force – internally or externally  Capturing and punishing criminals – those who violate the rights of others  Protecting the existing order  Defending the country from aggression  Attacking other countries

17 Each of these actions of a state is a matter of contestation Those in power may be wrong on any of these issues from the point of view of those who are out of power Which is uppermost:  the state’s monopoly on the use of force?  or the existing constitution?

18 Political regimes differ in the degree to which they resort to violence Democracy is supposed to require the least amount of violence Totalitarian regimes are defined by their ready resort to state terror – they are terrorist regimes Most politics today is between those extremes:  Violence as a last resort  Non-violent means of social control predominate

19 What about nuclear weapons? FhldDM&feature=fvwrel FhldDM&feature=fvwrel There are 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world today Most of them are in the hands of democratic states They can be used by the order of a president – with devastating consequences Whatever the political rationale, should any government be allowed to possess - and use - such destructive power?

20 Struggle for power Use of force in politics by those out of power is outlawed The maximum tolerance of dissent and opposition by the state: allowing non-violent struggles form power

21 Rationalizations of the use of force against the state:  Struggle for national independence  Resistance to the use of force by the state  Struggle for changes in state policy  Struggle for reorganization of the state  Struggle for political democracy  Struggle for social change REVOLUTIONARY VIOLENCE

22 Why use violent means as a tool in these struggles? Why not use peaceful means? Answers usually given:  Peaceful means may not be available  Peaceful means may be available, but not effective Why not effective?  One may not have enough support in society  The existing political rules may be rigged in favour of the status quo  One may despise peaceful means and glorify political violence

23 Civil violence: use of force by groups of citizens against each other  Communal, ethnic, religious, political The state is supposed to prevent it from happening But it may be unable – or unwilling to do so

24 What does historical experience suggest? Use of force is a legal prerogative of the state, but it can be counterproductive Use of force by citizens against the state may be justified in extreme circumstances, but even when it can be morally justified, it can be counterproductive, too The Communist experience  Revolutionary dictatorship, terror against opposition  Violations of human rights  Self-perpetuating rule by the bureaucracy The end does not justify the means

25 Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader of the movement for India’s independence

26 Gandhi on Non-Violence  “The first principle of non-violence is the non-compliance with everything that is humiliating.”  “Mankind has to get out of violence only through non-violence. Hatred can be overcome only by love. Counter-hatred only increases the surface as well as the depth of hatred.”  “Human dignity is best preserved not by developing the capacity to deal destruction but by refusing to retaliate. If it is possible to train millions in the black art of violence, which is the law of the Beast, it is more possible to train them in the white art of non-violence, which is the law of regenerate man.”  “The power at the disposal of a non-violent person is always greater than he would have if he were violent.”  “There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.”  “So long as one wants to retain one's sword, one has not attained complete fearlessness.”

27 1930: Gandhi leads a non-violent march to protest British salt monopoly

28 Cannibal warlords: Buying a gun in Japan:

29 The surprising decline of violence – Steven Pinker: decline-of-violence decline-of-violence

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