207: THE SPIRAL OF VIOLENCE

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the controversial Christian/Atheist blog where you never know what you’re going to find next. It’s my personal polemic, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it!” Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

This is a simple outline of the 4 stages of violence in society, as proposed by the sources listed below. Although they are both writing about Latin America, I think this is a valuable analytical tool that can be used throughout the Global South and beyond.

(1) Injustice:
The subtle institutional destruction of human possibilities that is around us all the time, but is often is not apparent to the comfortably off.

(2) Revolt:
Injustice generates a revolt of the oppressed themselves or of youth battling for a more just and human world. Violence usually comes after less extreme reactions to injustice such as strikes, demonstrations, self-help, or occupations. When such resistance leads to violence on the streets it is like lava flowing down from the top of a volcano; it is fed by deeper, hidden fires of social dislocation and injustice.

(3) Repression:
The authorities are obliged to re-establish public order, which usually means the use of force, and even torture. (Herbert Marcuse called this “repressive tolerance” in his influential book “One Dimensional Man”, which I first read in 1968.) When rioters are locked up,  harassed, lose their jobs or homes; or in some countries “disappear” or are tortured, then the resistance is driven underground to live to fight again another day.

(4) Revolt of large numbers:
May be violent or non-violent, planned or spontaneous. Could lead to an armed insurrection or even more severe state repression.

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Jesus and non-violence
Conscientious objection in Britain today
Red Christian documents #22: Quaker peace testimony

Sources:
(i) Camara, Helder “Spiral of Violence”
(ii) Horsley, R. “Jesus and the spiral of violence”

[indexed & linked, t&c]

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