Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Should Government's Violence be Justified?


     January 25th 2011, there was a Revolution in Egypt. This violent act occurred due to the long dictatorship that suppressed people’s rights. Egyptian government resorted to stop the protesters with their police and army forces but after many days of war between the two groups, the government has collapsed. Egyptian revolution in 2011 is one of the prime examples which violence has a major influence on the political system. Like words and signs, violence is one of the ways we use to express ourselves. This occurs in many situations such as when people struggles in personal or political reasons to resolve their problems. Violence is not always used to bring down the government. Sometimes, violence is used often by government to maintain their political status quo. Ever since humans were governed by governing groups of other fellow humans, also known as the government, violence related to political system was found often in every place around the world. Conflicts are still happening nowadays and will exist in the future. It is important to know when does the violence are likely to be resorted and why it might succeed. Some people will disagree that violence will not resolve any issues, but as said above, violence is a last resort of expression by individuals that try to express and resolve their sociological, ideological and political conflicts. These people are mostly like to have complaints toward the political institutions. The institutions could have prohibited their people to pursuit liberty or rigged the election to make the leader of their taste to govern. However, in opposite, governmental institution could have successfully prevented groups of people from taking over the government with their selfish manifestos.

Political culture of the communities is one of the most influential components that affect people to either retaliate against or cooperate with the political system. However people’s value judgments can lead to clouding real deliberation of the legitimacy of violence in a political system. According to Max Weber, he stated that the definition of a ‘state’ is when the governing group can successfully “practice the authority on legitimate use of violence”. Clouded by value judgments, people can unfairly refute the necessity of the legitimacy force by the authorities. This will result in to wrongful danger the existence of the base of the state. Overall, violence will happen if people’s conception and government clashes. If the reprisal is against the wrongdoings by the government, it should succeed and if the violence is to harm the right society, authorities should use their institutions force to prevent such actions.

There are societies that violence occurs frequently and that does not. In the society that has less violence, people try to solve their strain against the political system with peaceful methods, such as voting system. However, in a society that does not offer a peaceful choice, government will face immense amount of violence against from the people that are struggling to make a change. Like a balloon getting constant pressured, if there isn’t a method that will resolve people’s dissatisfaction, balloon will burst, in this case, occurrence of violence. There are a lot of supporting examples, such as FLQ crisis and the ‘Quebec Referendum’. The ‘Front de libération du Québec’ (also known as FLQ) was a left-wing nationalist group. FLQ’s objective was the liberation of province of Quebec from Canadian government. Instead of peaceful methods, FLQ chose terrorizing the society to successfully obtain their mission. These terrors are later known as the FLQ Crisis or the October Crisis. The violence resulted up to 160 terrorism acts, killing and injuring large number of people, and demolishing social infrastructures such as Montreal Stock Exchange in 1969. To prevent the terrorism by FLQ, government responded with War Measures Act, which deployed army forces into the city and arresting the members of FLQ. FLQ’s violent method towards the society was doomed to fail from the start. It is because their ideology was not supported by people and most of all it made a harmful act to the society and the people living in it. It is understandable that terrorizing the city was a viable choice since there was no clear and legitimate way in early 1970’s for FLQ to liberate Quebec, but it wasn’t the only way they could have chosen. And other interesting thing was at the time was most of the Canadians supported the government’s use of War Measures Act. It is surprising because the act will limit people’s liberty and despite the fact, people still held up the government’s decision. Observing this fact, people will approve government’s use of force against unjust retaliation. When the government gave the people other choices than violence, people followed the non-violent option. The example for this is the previously mentioned Quebec Referendum in 1980 and 1995. After the referendum that could grant Quebec sovereignty was offered, there was no more major violence such as terrorism related to the matter. It can be said that when people has a choice between violence and a non-violent way, people will not choose violence to solve their problem.

So when will the violence likely to solve the people’s strain against the government? Analyzing the real life cases and conflicts around the world; it came down to three factors of violent revolution that will successfully change the political system in their country. First of all, the violence has to be the only possible method to change the political system of society. It is no surprise that major violence happening inside a community is not a desirable thing to happen. Violence brings property damages, wounds people and even occurs deaths. Because of this fact, people will likely to find the alternative choice to violence. The violent movement that tries to reform the political system will fail if peaceful and legitimate way was an achievable option. Secondly, majority of the people have to support the violent method despite of its side effects. As seen from FLQ crisis, the violence or the revolution will likely to fail if it does not get support from the people of the society. It will be considered as a deviant behavior towards the society if a small group from the society tries to change the political system to act in their taste, rather than standing up to change the political system in good cause. This relates to the last factor, which is when radical method like violence to be justified, the purpose has to be for the good of society in whole. When the current political system needs to suppress rights of majority people in the society, frustration against the system will occur. According to Robert Merton’s social strain theory, when an individual’s means to achieve goal is limited due to his or her society, that person will likely to cause deviant behavior to achieve the goal. This means, when the society’s political system prevents the methods to achieve freedom from their people, the people will likely to resort to violence to change the system. These three factors are necessary to successfully revolutionize the flawed political system and only should exist from it.

Society’s institutions also play an important role in violence against the political system. It is how well the institutions function that will determine people whether or not the change is in need. When institutions do not function as expected, it can easily give people reason to retaliate against them, even with violence if necessary. One of the most important and influential social organizations is the society’s justice system. Justice system, such as law enforcement, has a purpose of upholding the society’s order and preventing the social system to collapse from deviant behaviors. The limit of justice system’s power greatly differs from communities. For example, North Korea is a totalitarian society. Its police have the power to override every individual’s rights and freedom to maintain government’s ideology. On the contrary, there are countries like Somalia, which does not have a justice system strong enough to maintain the social order. Both cases are not ideal for preventing violence from occurring. When law enforcing is too strict, it will take away people’s rights and freedoms causing them to rise against the government to take back their stolen rights. However, violence towards the government will also happen when the law enforcing is too weak to protect their people from deviant behaviors happening to them, therefore a balance in the power is needed. To achieve the balance, justice system’s force should be limited to the part where it will not take away people’s right and freedom. And the power should be granted only to the boundary of detaining deviant individual who tries to harm other people’s rights and freedoms. Other important institution is government’s taxation department. High and low tax rate has its pros and cons each. High tax rate means, there will be less personal income but more beneficial programs to the whole society. On the other hand, low tax rate means there will be less social benefits but more personal income. However problems will occur when the tax rate is high but there are less, or even none, social support towards the people. This phenomenon also can be said as the “corruption of government”. The corruption will frustrate the people by taking away the benefit they deserve, thus causing a strain towards the government.

When the strain from their government expands among people, it will appear in a form of violence against the political system. The government will most likely to resort in force when violence happens. Government using force against rebels is not a difficult thing to observe. In most violent protests law enforcement units such as riot police are dispatched to stop to protesters by force. However, government’s use of force is not limited to a physical term. The force of using a media is one of the non-physical options that government uses in response to the violence. Media has manifest to control people’s conception as same as “smoking is known to give lung cancer to human”. North Korea, again, is a great example of how government controls the media to prevent a violent revolution towards their political system. In addition to the military force to prevent revolutions from happening, the government blocks any influences from the capitalist countries nearby, such as South Korea and Japan. North Korea government then picks out capitalism’s defect by showing their people only the substandard side of it. In addition of information screening, educational programs are mostly about praising their leader and communist government, making children think that North Korea is the “heaven on the ground”.

Like North Korea, communities around the world try hard to sustain their political culture. Political culture differs with various factors. This includes openness of the market, social support from the government and most importantly, the amount of justice system’s power that can interfere the individual’s right for the social good. Especially the authority of justice system has the most influence on people’s perception of legitimate use of violence from the government. Political communities that do not believe the rights of justice system interfering their rights, such as liberalism, will disagree with the legitimate use of violence that maintains the society. This will lead to negative outcomes. It is easy to get clouded by community’s value judgments for a fair discussion of a legitimate use of violence from a political system. This is an unacceptable thing because people could blindly oppose to the legitimate use of violence based on their political beliefs. Just because from the fact that is goes against the belief, legitimate use of violence should not be thought as unnecessary. The state will be in a status of anomie without a social order from legitimate violence. In addition, according to social contract theory, people are contracted to the society to follow its rules in trade of the protection that government offers. Disapproving legitimate use of violence also means disapproving society itself.

The violence towards the political system and legitimate use of violence are still in struggle to find its balance. If people’s violence is stronger, the society will collapse. If society’s violence stronger, people’s right and freedom will be at risk. Because of this, some people argue that there should be no violence and only a peaceful approach to every issues and complaints in the society. But as every ideology cannot be practiced precisely as it was intended, society cannot sustain without any violence. For people who struggle to achieve freedom from a dictating government, violence towards them is the strongest and only communication that has a chance to succeed. Also for government to protect their people from their freedom getting harmed, violence towards the deviant group is one of the best solutions. The legitimacy of violence should be upheld despite the fact that some political communities disagree with it.  Winston Churchill once said, “It is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”. The meaning of this quote is “it is better to negotiate in peace rather than a violent method like war.” But acknowledging the fact that Churchill was the most important leader who led numerous battles in World War II era, a world that solves issues exclusively by peaceful methods only exists in manifestos of ideologists.

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