The state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, but citizens sometimes also resort to force for political ends. This essay will discuss the circumstances under which this type of force is politically justified, and whether violence has ever led to positive social change. From this it will be clear that political violence is justifiable and often leads to positive social change.
Violence and politics have long been linked, in fact the politics and specific institutions of government can be argued to be a consequence of violence throughout history. Within the realm of political violence, there are two main categories: war and terrorism. These two types of violence have long been used as ways of achieving political ends. (Ch. 19: 253).
The use of political violence has been a tool frequently used throughout history because politics is about power, and violence is a way of attaining power. In other words, violence is often used as a tool to attain political power. For example, states have long used physical force (violence) as a way of repelling invaders and conquering new territory. Violence can come in many forms though, and only some of these forms are powerful. For example, a man with a gun is not very powerful, but a man with a gun with an army and a political leader behind him is powerful.
[...] On the other hand, there are may that believe positive social change was accomplished, and this argument can be strengthen by the fact that Castro has been in power in Cuba for five decades (meaning his legitimacy as ruler has remained intact because nobody else has been able to mobilize the political force to challenge him). Other examples of violence leading to positive social change can be seen with the case of Nelson Mandela as he used violence as a way of challenging the policies of apartheid in South Africa. [...]
[...] Different people have different interests, and these are seen in the way that they justify their actions. This was seen during the terrorist attacks of September 11. This event was viewed by most people in the world as a deplorable use of political force, but the terrorists who did it knew that it would be regarded in that way. For them, they weighed the benefits and drawbacks of engaging in that act, and they decided that for them, the terrorist act was legitimate. [...]
[...] This shows that in fact, the use of political force by citizens can in fact be justified. (Kirkpatrick, 1988: 434). This leads to the question of whether violence has ever led to positive social change. This is a tough question because people will always disagree over what constitutes positive social change, but there is good reason to believe that positive social change has come from the use of political violence. A good example of a time when political force was used by citizens as a way of achieving positive social change can be seen during the Cuban revolution. [...]
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