Politics Ends Where Violence Begins

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In this paper I will be attempting to discuss the statement that "Politics ends where violence begins." In order to do this I will define the key concepts of this statement, namely those of violence and politics. I will then go on to examine what each of these two concepts entail and then I will attempt to bring the concepts together in a discussion of the above statement. In attempting to do this I will look at the work of Arendt as well as Weber, Heywood, Mills and various political dictionaries in order to be able to obtain a better grasp on the subject at hand.

In order to understand the statement under discussion, there must first be a definition of the two main terms with which we are dealing, namely those of politics and violence. Politics is defined by Weber as such, ""Politics" for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power" (2002; 13-14) while violence is defined by the Oxford Concise English Dictionary as an "unlawful exercise of force" (1995; 1564).

However, as politics has been defined in terms of power we need to know precisely what the term `power' entails, thus there is a need to define what it means. A common definition used within politics is that power is "the ability of A to make B do something B would not choose to do" (Robertson, 2002; 399), also that power is the "ability to achieve a desired outcome" (Heywood, 2002; 10) or "affect the behaviour of others in some desired way" (Plano, 1982; 111). We must also draw a distinction between the two basic types of power, "power over", and, "power to do" (2004; 158). "Power over" relates to the ability to make others do what you would like, whereas, "power to" relates to the ability to achieve an outcome that w...

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(1995) Oxford Concise English Dictionary. Thompson, D. (ed). New York, Clarendon Press and Oxford. pp. 777, 1564

(2004) "Lecture 11." ISS Handbook. UKZN Faculty of Human Sciences. pp. 158

Arendt, A. (2002) "Reflections on Violence." Violence: A Reader. Besteman, C. (ed) Hampshire and New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 25, 30, 31-32, 32, 34

Heywood, A. (2002) Politics. Hampshire and New York, Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 10, 210

Plano, J. C. (1982) The Dictionary of Political Analysis. Plano, J. C., Riggs, R. E., Robin, H. S. (eds). Oxford, Clio Press Ltd. pp. 111

Robertson, D. (2002) A Dictionary of Modern Politics. Boland-Crewe, T., Kelly, P., Lea, D. (eds). London, Europa Publications. pp. 399

Weber, M. (2002) "Politics as a Vocation." Violence: A Reader. Besteman, C. (ed) Hampshire and New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 13, 13-14
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