Power and Violence

The relationship between violence and politics has always been very problematic and complex. As it is often said- world history is the history of violence. The number of wars that have been fought, the level of violence that has been perpetrated is unthinkable and often the greatest wars that have ever been fought were for political power. However, it cannot be denied that the relationship between violence and power must be re-evaluated in the post-industrial, post ideological and a highly integrated world.

So, what is it about today’s times that violence and politics have almost become impossible to separate? To begin with ultimate hope of the liberals that democracy will reduce violence hasn’t been realised. The paradox here is very hard to overlook as in an era of unprecedented democratization and economic growth, we have also witnessed an unprecedented increase in violence. But why this paradox? It was expected that democracy will give people a safe outlet to voice their opinions. As more and more people get involved in politics, there will be lesser need for them to express their grievances through unconstitutional means. To answer this question, thinkers like Jack Snyder pointed out that as more people took part in politics, ethnic conflict within the country became even more probable. This argument is in line with the fact that although the number of interstate wars have reduced since the second world war, the number of civil wars and ethnic conflicts have increased manifold. While talking about intrastate conflicts, violence during the time of regime transition needs a special mention. In many countries’ violence becomes an integral part of regime transition. While the formal symbols of democracy remain, most countries are threatened by corruption, political pacts etc.

Violence persists in well-established and economically advanced democracies as well. Such violence highlights general trends of internal violence as well as particular national histories. We have seen in many third world nations where severity of violence has diverted a transition away from democracy towards a new form of authoritarianism.

There is also violence in other political arenas which may not be directly related to the state. There is an obvious relationship between economics and violence. Violence has become embedded in the class and market relations among social groups and in the societal effects on global economic trends. In many countries economic polices also trigger violence among classes. Not only economics and states, violence has also become an intrinsic characteristic of inter-societal relations. Such violence maybe caused by state power and policy or as a reaction to it but often takes on its own momentum. Social groups often use violence in their interaction with the state.

Even though governments may often act as major perpetrators of violence, living in a state we are all dependent upon the government to make laws and thus, it is also important for the government to find solution to the problem of increasing violence. It must try to achieve the wider aim of disassociating violence from politics as much as possible no matter how Utopian the idea might seem.

Categories: Social Issues

Tagged as: , ,