Democracy and Political Violence

Democracy and Political Violence

Democracy and Political Violence

Democracy and Political Violence

Synopsis

Democracy and Political Violence applies democratic theory to the problem of creating a liberal democracy in a situation of conflict, violence, and social division. It adopts a distinct perspective: that both community and conflict are at the heart of all but the smallest of democratic societies, and that they need to be reconciled in order for democracy to be successful.

The text focuses on national and ethnic conflict, the challenges of terrorism, the problems of cultural division, attempts at creating democracy by imposition, and the question of establishing a common culture of citizenship spanning ethnic and cultural divisions.

Excerpt

Why do democratic societies today face challenges from those who resort to violence, and in what ways should the citizens and governments of such societies respond to these challenges? Under what conditions, nationally and internationally, is the use of violence necessary and legitimate to defend and spread democracy as a form of rule and protect democratic rights when they have been infringed? These broad questions form the subject of this book. By way of introduction some further presentation is necessary, given the wide nature of the subject-matter, and the fact that because of its topical nature it has been tackled in all sorts of ways by experts in security studies, in terrorism, as well as by those focusing on particular countries and areas of the world. In what ways can the present study, defined as an exercise in applied political theory, claim to offer a distinctive perspective? The term ‘applied political theory’ is meant to indicate the general approach taken here, which is to use certain basic ideas of democratic theory, explaining the ideals of democracy, and then to discuss in what ways those who use violence as a political weapon challenge those ideas. This is not to deny that in some cases, both historically and in the contemporary world, violence has been used not to oppose democracy, but as a way of extending it and gaining membership in a political community for those who are denied a voice in that community. For example, without the use or threat of political violence, it may be doubted whether the black majority in South Africa would have gained the right to exercise democratic rights in a system which entrenched the power of the white minority.

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