Politics of violence



Publication Details

Sorial, S. 2011, 'Politics of violence', Critical Horizons, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 163-164.


The problem of political violence, its justifiability, and the question of how we ought to respond to it has been the subject of extensive debate since September 11, 2001, and subsequent terrorist attacks in Madrid (2004), London (2005), Bali (2005) and Mumbai (2008). The phenomenon of political violence is by no means new; nor have the measures taken by Western governments in response to recent terrorist attacks been unprecedented. Political violence has been used to achieve political and social objectives for much of the twentieth century. The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the activities of the Red Army Faction between 1970-1998 and the various attacks on animal laboratories and abortion clinics (to name only a few) attest to the prevalence of political violence as a feature of our political culture. Western governments have always responded with tough “law and order” measures, and have been routinely criticized for undermining citizens’ civil liberties.

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