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Posted on April 13th, 2014, by

It goes without saying that there are different ways to manipulate people’s conscience and actions. Politics is normally the sphere where all of them are successfully applied and practiced, if not developed. Politics and honesty can hardly step side by side, and often exist in rivalry, but dishonesty is probably not even the worst tool politicians turn to when trying to achieve their goals. Agitation is often based on emotions, not on rational argumentation, and at the same time emotions are not so easy to control. Emotions can be either positive or negative, and the latter are much more beneficial when it comes to political agitation. That is why aggression and violence often arise when social movement is led for some outstanding goal. Violence is regarded as intentional use of power and force which is likely to result in someone’s pain, injury or even death. “Violence in resistance to law or violence undertaken by law officers is somewhat separate from violence associated with a social reform movement’s agitation for change”¯ (Albert and Albert 21). It can be directed at one person or against a group or community, but the most disturbing fact is that committing violence is justified in extreme political circumstances. American history is rich in such circumstances and justifications; hence this issue has become a matter widely disputed among social and political scientists. Applying violence has its pros and cons, and it is probably important to realize both the opponents and the advocates in order to make sound conclusions and work out further plan of actions. This research is intended to reveal how violence has affected the history of the United States and to decide whether violent actions can be ever legitimate and at least morally proved, in other words whether the game is worth the candle.

Types of Violence

Talking about politics of violence, it is important to distinguish between movement activity violence on the one hand and state repression of the disobedient on the other hand. Movement activity is often associated with rioting, clandestine, paramilitary activities. State violence, in turn, exists in the form of protest policing, political police, unofficial paramilitaries as well as military clampdowns. Violence may take a form of revolutions and rioting, urban guerrillas and protest policing. Although their objectives tend to differ, for both, however, violence sometimes becomes not instrumental, but rather symbolic issue. Either it is defensive violence or non-violent direct action it becomes a political as well as a practical question.

The Advantages of Violent Actions

The advocates of violence as a tool of political agitation would probably insist that the end justifies the mean. However, the answer is not so clear. Research shows that social activists tend to turn to violence when the application of all the other tools has failed or almost failed.

On the one hand, social changes seem to be unachievable without political pressures. It is significant to note that according to social and psychological studies, social changes require people’s disposure to non-routine dimension. First of all, a person should feel and realize that the situation is not satisfying and that the change is necessary. It is better for a person to feel this change is needed not for the society as an abstract, but for him or herself personally. And to face the problem, this person should be taken out of daily comfort and customary circumstances. In other words, social disruption has to take place. When political identity is shared by the social movement, it is closer to success. Violence is helpful to challenge the system and to explain it to the power authorities that the intentions of the rioters are serious and uncompromised.

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