Essay on Political Violence Is Not Illegitimate But Part Of The Human Existence

Essay on Political Violence Is Not Illegitimate But Part Of The Human Existence

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The definition of political violence is ‘violence [that is] outside of state control that is political motivated’ (O’Neil 2011, par. 1). One way to study political violence is to interpret the way a group participates in collective action to solve political dilemmas, and why groups choose violence as a means to achieve their political goals. As P. Schmid Alex wrote, “conflict itself is not illegitimate but part of the human existence and can be a positive mechanism of social and political change” (Schmid 2004, 199). Another aspect of violence that is commonly debated and discussed within the political arena is terrorism. Specifically, how state actors and policy-makers distinguish terrorism from other forms of political violence.
Within this essay, I base my understanding of political violence primarily on the social-structural theory. That is to say, social structural stains in society can kindle grievances that can lead to political violence, especially when those who are in power lack legitimacy (Gupta 2008, 24). Social movements take place when state authorities are not able to provide public goods, such as the protection from poverty, corruption, and the inability to protect citizens from external threats thus causing social unrest (Gupta 2008, 25). Over time, a population gains a sense of injustice, and even humiliation that creates social and political instability. When a society denies the legitimacy of a state actor, political violence can be seen as a legitimate form of resistance to achieve political change.
Political violence can be a morally legitimate and efficient way to oppose an authoritarian government; however, terrorism is an escalation and strategy of political violence, particularly that of targeting non-har...


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... the social strain theory would suggest that political dilemmas erupt when a state lacks legitimacy, which could legitimize political violence. However, it is challenging to distinguish between forms of political violence that are legal from forms that are illegal, like terrorism. Especially, when groups are claiming to achieve a common good for their communities thus a ‘terrorist without a cause is not a terrorist’ (Gupta 2008, 32). Targeting non-harming civilians, nonetheless, is illegitimate and hurts the legality of the movement. Nevertheless, it is imperative to understand the nature of the individual violent acts, the intention behind the acts, and the meaning of the act before labeling an act as terrorism (Bryan, Kelly and Templer 2011, 7). However, intentionally using noncombatants as a weapon to achieve political change is illegitimate under any circumstance.

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