Missing Link Friday – politics and violence

White Ribbon Day: "In an afternoon in Montreal on December 6th 1989, a man massacred 14 of his female classmates. From this horrific action, a nation was brought to the forefront of an issue that had been severely underreported for too long."Lip Magazine.

"White Ribbon Day promotes change by highlighting the positive role that men can play. It encourages all men across the world to take an active stance against violence against women. This Friday, 25 November, is White Ribbon Day, a day when men say it is not okay to use violence against women, when men speak out to change the attitudes and behaviours which allow violence against women to occur and when taking action to address violence against women is celebrated, supported and encouraged." Andrew Leigh.

Louis Althusser and socialist strategy: "Althusser’s career ended in a squalid tragedy when, under the influence of a mental illness that had grown more intense over the years, he strangled his wife, Hélène." Lenin’s Tomb.

Issue of Violence Divides Occupy Protesters: "Is there a place for violence in the Occupy movement?" asks Sayre Quevedo at Turnstyle.

Violence and disruptive power: "We understand the sheepishness about speaking of violence in social movements" writes Lenin in a post on Occupy and disruptive power. "It is not a comforting or politically sympathetic thought that popular violence has been productive; that without it, unjust systems would not have been overturned."

Martin Luther King and non-violent protest: "When is violence justified as a response to manifest and apparently immovable injustice? My answer, with Martin Luther King is: Never, or almost never." John Quiggin.

Pepper spray parodies: When the Lieutenant John Pike used pepper spray against protesters at University of California, Davis, photos of the incident quickly became raw material for satirists. Shane Greenstein at Digitopoly. and tigtog at Hoyden about town have more.

Structural Violence and the US health care system: "The subjective violence of a personal attack, of war, terrorism, or torture is easy to see and to condemn. Structural violence is less visible, more subtle and therefore harder to critique and change. The structural violence of the health-care system in the United States violates distributive justice." Valerie Elverton Dixon, God’s Politics.

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36 Responses to Missing Link Friday – politics and violence

  1. Patrick says:

    I’m fairly sure that ‘structural violence’ is a phrase from another language, and one that I don’t speak.

    Either that or it just doesn’t really mean anything at all.

  2. Dan says:

    Meaning no.2 is the one you’re after, Patrick.

  3. desipis says:

    Patrick, yes, it’s not from a language of rational understanding. It’s from a language of emotional manipulation, where its users pick words with strong negative connotations and apply them as labels to things they don’t like. It’s a way of manipulating people into supporting your position without them actually thinking about it, and often in spite of them thinking about it and disagreeing with the position.

    Surely you agree with Valerie Dixon. You don’t support violence do you?

  4. Dan says:

    I’d like to see an Australian politician come out against families and/or hard work.

  5. Patrick says:

    Well, desipis, at times I do. I suspect that if meeting anyone called Elverton might be such a time ;)

  6. desipis says:

    Dan, that’s because as soon as they did, they’d cease to be an Australian politician and instead become an Un-Australian politician.

  7. Tel says:

    As Churchill said (don’t forget to do the voice), “Ahh, history will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”

    Violence works, for those who are good at it. Generally organised groups of people (i.e. states, and some criminal gangs) are vastly more effective than any individual.

    The subjective violence of a personal attack, of war, terrorism, or torture is easy to see and to condemn. Structural violence is less visible, more subtle and therefore harder to critique and change. The structural violence of the health-care system in the United States violates distributive justice.

    Libertarians have been making that argument about income tax for almost 100 years.

  8. desipis says:

    Libertarians have been making that argument about income tax for almost 100 years.

    And yet they seem to completely miss the structural violence inherent in free market capitalism.

  9. TimT says:

    Struth: ‘… which must be ratified at a biweekly meeting by a two thirds majority’ ‘You saw it didn’t you? You saw him repressing me’.

    They’re not libertarians at all, they’re occupiers.

  10. Patrick says:

    In defence of libertarians, taxes are enforced by implicit violence, like all laws. So whilst I do think it is silly to talk about taxes and violence (you can, after all, leave the country in question), it is at least possible to do so in the English language.

    Whereas [email protected] takes it right back to planet lost.

    On the pepper spray stuff, it is quite funny how indulgent the US have been when there was never any question of letting the smelly rabble hang around in, say, Melbourne.

  11. desipis says:

    In defence of libertarians, taxes are enforced by implicit violence, like all laws.

    Laws like property rights? The laws that underpin the libertarian dream come with just as much implicit violence as those they dislike. The reference to violence is just a distraction from the fact their preference for individualist laws is simply an arbitrary ideal. Much like the reference to ‘structural violence’ distracts from the arguments for or against the US health system that actually have merit.

  12. wmmbb says:

    Here is a part description for you Patrick from Wikipedia:

    In his book Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, James Gilligan defines structural violence as “the increased rates of death and disability suffered by those who occupy the bottom rungs of society, as contrasted with the relatively lower death rates experienced by those who are above them.” Gilligan largely describes these “excess deaths” as “non-natural” and attributes them to the stress, shame, discrimination and denigration that results from lower status. He draws on Sennett and Cobb, who examine the “contest for dignity” in a context of dramatic inequality..

    The Thick Dark Fog is an example of structural violence, one we might have heard in another setting.

  13. Bill Posters says:

    I’m fairly sure that ‘structural violence’ is a phrase from another language, and one that I don’t speak.

    Yes, English. It has a meaning, as everyone else has explained; it’s just that it’s a meaning that you don’t want to recognise.

  14. Pedro says:

    “The subjective violence of a personal attack, of war”

    Obviously “structural violence” is a dopey phrase used as desi suggests to make a moral claim about the violence of not forcing doctors to fix your ills. But how did you get past “subjective violence”? without comment.

    Now for the property rights thread of doom.

    “Laws like property rights? The laws that underpin the libertarian dream come with just as much implicit violence as those they dislike. The reference to violence is just a distraction from the fact their preference for individualist laws is simply an arbitrary ideal.”

    All moral claims are arbitrary, but libertarian claims tend to be less arbitrary than all but the claims of full socialism. Libertarians say you should forcibly share the least. Socialists say you share pretty much everything.

  15. Patrick says:

    Bill Posters, are you sure you have the right thread? As of your comment there was only one person trying to justify the use of ‘structural violence’ in English language communication.

    And that person (wmmbb) hasn’t established anything except that to highlight that the promoters of structural violence compound their lack of understanding of English and their pathetic disregard for the actual violence suffered by billions with a lack of understanding of history – unevenly increasingly better outcomes for all does not quite sound like the great moral cause of our age.

    ~ ~ ~
    On the bright sidea I will have a crack at defusing the property thread of doom. I agree with [email protected] in this. I only think that there is at least a rational basis for talking about the implicit violence in the case of laws like tax or property that is not present in arguments about people’s choices; the non-state allocation of resources and whether people are ‘dying of shame'(!!).

    To be clear, though, I think structural violence is meaningless in any context.

  16. Tel says:

    Oh the dread structural violence inherent in allowing people to voluntarily trade between themselves without interference!

    To arms lads! Pull on our steel boots and stamp out this violence forever.

  17. Pedro says:

    Great lessons from an earlier time

    “The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

  18. Patrick says:

    Love the thanksgiving message :) The Americans really were ahead of the curve then!

  19. wmmbb says:

    I may be wrong about this, but as far as I can tell Patrick you have an ideological position that values individualism, rationalism and materialism. That position might be described as a dominant paradigm, or a predispositon to believe the truth of statements that conform with that worldview.

    What happens when the evidence suggests contextual explanations, both societal and historical? Take the case studies of indigenous peoples cultural existence, particularly languages were suppressed, as seems to be the case in all the settler societies, and whose children were separated from their parents. I assume you would deny cultural violence as well.

    What other explanations for the expression of violence, or nonviolence, as the case might be, did you have in mind? If the belief was that violence was hard-wired in individual human beings, the normal approach would be to demonstrate evidence for that conclusion, even as it contradicts everyday experience.

    It is not sufficient to make declarations, especially since you seem to be accepting implicit violence but rejecting structural violence. I fail to see then how the use of language comes into it, although I appreciate there is a conceptual difference between, for example, structural damage and structural violence.

    Otherwise, I fail to understand what you are saying.

  20. Dan says:

    wmmbb – My sense is that Patrick would rather ignore, for instance, Myrdal’s work on circular and cumulative causation, for which he won the 1974 Nobel Prize in Economics (the same year as Friedrich Hayek, ha).

  21. Bill Posters says:

    Oh the dread structural violence inherent in allowing people to voluntarily trade between themselves without interference!

    Yes, terrible interference like, you know, a legal system that enforces contract law.

  22. Pedro says:

    I guess English is a living language, but:

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/violence
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/repression
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/oppression

    I think that’s the only point being made.

    Bill P, he was being sarcastic, not making a claim about the non-existent triumph of socialism.
    http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sarcastic

  23. Nicholas Gruen says:

    On seeing this post I tweeted yesterday saying that if OWS doesn’t stick to non-violence it’s sunk.

    ‘senere’ responded with two tweets.

    @NicholasGruen that’s such a complex question. I’m a Quaker and as such non-violence is a core belief for me. In OWS I think it’s essential.

    @NicholasGruen But, for me the principles of direct deliberative democracy, & resistance of doctrine trump an absolute stance on nonviolence.

    Which is pretty heavy. In any event, my thinking was that since this movement doesn’t really know what it wants – it just knows some big things about what it doesn’t like – a commitment to non-violence is essential to its own SELF-protection. Otherwise it’s easy meat for every ratbag outfit in the country.

  24. kelly liddle says:

    The real protests haven’t started yet. When things start to look like Greece or London then that is the start of the real protests and this is very likely to happen when welfare cuts in the US really start to bite and if the US dollar is regarded as it should be there will also be high inflation to go with it.

  25. Peter Mariani says:

    I’m Rev King and the other guy – “When is violence justified as a response to manifest and apparently immovable injustice? My answer, with Martin Luther King is: Never, or almost never.” To really win you have to better than not the same as those you oppose..

  26. Peter Patton says:

    Dude, “structural violence” is, like, so pre-postcolonial. “Epistemic” violence is where it’s at.

  27. Peter Patton says:

    There is nothing wrong with the implicit violence that underpins all legislation, so long as the government, which is legislating is a legitimate government. The core of the social contract, which is the core of representative parliamentary democracy, is that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

  28. Peter Patton says:

    Even in libertarian philosophy this is so. See Nozick’s “nightwatchman state” for example.

  29. Dan says:

    PM: Yes, it represents a ‘solving’ of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Now if only someone could just let Hezbollah know…

    PP: a number of libertarians I know are anti-democratic precisely on the grounds that they argue there’s no reason that individual will should be stifled by the incoherent and irrational masses. Unfortunately, they don’t have a great deal to offer in its stead.

  30. Peter Patton says:

    PP: a number of libertarians I know are anti-democratic precisely on the grounds that they argue there’s no reason that individual will should be stifled by the incoherent and irrational masses.

    No doubt artlessly, compared to the opposite argument made in Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man under Socialism.

  31. Peter Patton says:

    Unless your libertarian pals are from those well-known Nietzschean and/or anarchist wings of the libertarian movement. ;)

  32. Dan says:

    Oh, they mainline Nietzsche and one of them tops it up with Rand. (The other one I’m thinking of regards Rand as a d-grade writer and intellectual failure. Rightly so.)

  33. Peter Patton says:

    Well given Nietzsche’s thoughts on capitalism, and especially the bourgeoisie, your homeys really need to change their dealer, as s/he is selling them some heavily cut shit, dude

  34. Dan says:

    I can think of no philosopher more amenable to selective reading than good old Fred.

  35. wmmbb says:

    I had not appreciated that structural violence is a critical concept for evaluating public policy. It seems clear that we do not consciously and conscientiously follow nonviolence as fundamental principle and practice, violence will be legitimated and reinforced. it is always important to remember that dehumanization is the precondition and accompaniment of violence. Still, it is surprising to me for a Quaker to suggest that the principles of nonviolence and deliberative democracy conflict with one another.

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