Chapter 7 Notes
Chapter 7 Notes PLSC 2013
Popular in Intro to Comparative Politics
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Elise Herenton on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PLSC 2013 at University of Arkansas taught by Jeffrey Ryan in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 5 views. For similar materials see Intro to Comparative Politics in Political Science at University of Arkansas.
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Date Created: 10/03/16
Chapter 7-Political Violence What is political violence? Political violence refers to: hostile acts that occur outside of the control of the state and that seeks to achieve a political objective. Illegal Done by people who don’t have affiliation to a country/society Thus, political violence represents confrontation with state institutions that have failed to meet the expectations of some citizens. Institution uses violence in response to someone changing things (Ex. Julius Ceasar assassinated for changing tradition) Why individuals choose to express frustrations through violence is complicated and not entirely clear. Scholars have identified three basic explanations as to why individuals choose violence as a means of expression. These are institutional explanations (something’s going on with how society is organized), ideational explanations (ideology that was bringing everything into effect), and individualized explanations (this guy was nuts). Each hypothesis seeks to explain how an individual rationalizes violence as a form of expression. Explanations of violence Institutional explanations suggest that violence may occur in response to the institutions (or changes to the institutions) of the state and society. One votes and constantly doesn’t get the outcome they want If a president decides to change the constitution (how many terms a president can have), people will be upset by the change and may resort to violence to prevent to change. Institutions may also inadvertently promote violence. (Ex. Plurality-based voting systems.) As individuals perceive that other forms of participation are ignored or rejected, violence becomes a legitimate response to institutional shortcomings. Ideational explanations focus on the thought process behind violence. Ideational refers to the expression of ideas. Ideational explanations sometimes focus on ideological explanations of violence: an ideologies identify a problem and then provides a solution. Ideologies that promote revolutionary or reactionary political also provide an ideational basis for violence. Individual Explanations Individual explanations focus on the personal motivations of those who commit violence. Such individuals may be drawn to violence by psychological factors. Upbringing plays a factor Ex. Personal experiences or anger at changing values. However, individuals may also view violence rationally and use it tactically. All three explanations can also work in connection with each other. Revolution Revolution can be defined as: the public seizure of the state with the purpose of overthrowing the existing government and regime. Revolutions have profound effects, often leading to a reimagining of how politics can be conducted and how societies can be organized. For these reasons, revolutions differ from coup d’états in that the public (in addition to elites) plays a major role in taking power. Revolutions may or may not be violent. The dramatic goals of revolution (and their probable resistance) make violence difficult to avoid even if revolutionaries are attempting to avoid it. Revolutions can be triggered through overwhelming public pressure, which may cause leaders to step aside rather than attempt to hang on to power. Ex. The fall of Communist states in most Eastern Europe. Revolutions, cont’d. Conditions that foster revolution are hotly debated. The behavioral revolution was the first process that attempted to explain revolution in a generalized manner. This scholarship explained revolutions using the relative deprivation model. This stipulates that revolutions will occur when public expectations outpace the rate of change. Thus, economic development may do more to explain revolution than a lack of it. (Ex. Iran) Other explanations have focused on how state institutions respond to changing public demand and international pressures. Using this approach, a key factor in determining the success of a revolution will be the degree to which police and military forces support revolutionaries. Continuity between old regimes and new persist in spite of revolution. Repression may continue as new regimes seek to consolidate their authority. Terrorism Terrorism refers to a violent act that targets noncombatants and is intended to spread fear, or serve a political purpose. Terrorism is a tactic used by strategically weaker groups to combat another country, occupying force, or an ideology. Terrorism is designed to undermine civilian support for a government. This discontent is intended to force the state to discontinue the unpopular policy. Such a strategy is most effective when attacks are publicized by the media. The primary effects of terrorism are psychological, and are intended to generate fear in a society. Citizens may grow to fear for their safety as areas common to everyday life are attacked. Thus, terrorist attacks are not random. They are intended to trigger this effect. Terrorism, cont’d. The effectiveness of terrorism is questionable. Suicide bombings in Lebanon may have led the US to withdraw from the state in 1983. Terrorist acts in Chechnya led to a serious crackdown by Russian forces. Al-Qaida has mostly been contained since the 9/11 attacks. Terrorism may be diffused by conferring political legitimacy to a sympathetic group. Such actions allow a group to lawfully pursue their goals. However, this is controversial due to damages inflicted on the citizens of a state. Ex. The IRA and the “Good Friday Accords.” Goals of violent activity Terrorism and revolutions generally seek to achieve the same objectives. Both seek to violently upend the existing social structure in order to replace it with an ideological alternative. Some revolutionaries view terrorism as a way to trigger a revolution. Terrorism and revolutions both see the existing political system as illegitimate and reject the idea of political reform. Because of its revolutionary objectives, terrorism can also be distinguished from guerrilla warfare, or warfare involving non-state combatants who accept traditional rules of war and do not target civilians. Guerillas typically acknowledge opponents as legitimate actors and wish to be regarded as legitimate in return. Religious Violence Recall: Religion had been supplanted by political and economic ideologies in the late 19 th Century. Have to have hostility towards society Yet as ideologies have failed to live up to their promises, religion returned to prominence in public life. This also gave rise to fundamentalism, or attempts to fuse state authority with religious values. What conditions lead fundamentalists to engage in political violence? Conditions do vary according to religion and experiences, but some basic trends are evident: Generally speaking, violent fundamentalists exhibit a hostility to modern society. Ex. gay marriage They view modern society as actively seeking to eradicate religious individuals. And they adhere to apocalyptic (and then) utopian beliefs. Religious Violence, cont’d. Violent fundamentalists are hostile to modern society. Such individuals assume that institutions such as the modern state, secularism, and capitalism have deprived individuals of greater meaning in their life. Status Secularism- no religion is better than the other or should receive special treatment In capitalism- lead to loss of identity/ standing, deprives individuals of greater meaning in their life These ideas are most prominent in areas where modernity is viewed as a foreign value and does not well mesh well with traditional society. Violent fundamentalists also view this conflict as a “cosmic” struggle between the modern world and religious individuals. Fundamentalists fear that the modern state not only marginalizes religion, but actively seeks to eradicate religious individuals. This enables fundamentalists to view society and other people in black and white terms: Individuals are either on the side of good or evil. No middle ground This, in turn, justifies violence against civilians, because those who are not actively supporting the fundamentalist agenda must be against it. Religious Violence, cont’d. Violent fundamentalists also hold apocalyptic views of their situation. Fundamentalists don’t think that it’s going to work out for them (people are frequently abandoning traditional religious values) Religious individuals are “losing” to modernity. Thus, religious individuals may use violence to counter this, or to return the world to religious values. Violent fundamentalism thoroughly reinterprets a faith. Mainstream adherents of a religion typically do not recognize the beliefs of a fundamentalist group or denounce them altogether Responses to violence Terrorism and revolution has been less likely to occur in democracies. Democracies promote participation, and so it is less likely that individuals will feel driven to violence. However, democracies have limited effectiveness against terrorism originating from foreign sources. Some have suggested that globalized violence can be combatted by imposing democracy on others. However, top-down democratization may lead to nondemocratic rule. Conclusions Political violence is a reaction to institutions that directly challenge the identity. An individual may resort to violence if other forms of participation are ignored. Violence may be explained by institutional, ideational, or individual reasons. It is best understood as a a combination of all three. Ultimate expressions of political violence are revolution and terrorism. Both seek to replace current institutions with an ideological alternative. Both justify violence as a necessary in order to create or expand new institutions. Democratic government provides an effective way to reduce the likelihood of violence. Let people participate, people will be more happy However, democracy are more effective when based on social developments within a state.
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