Posted by: nuismera | May 6, 2009

Stuctural Violence, terrorism, and militarism

“With the concept of structural violence, we have a way of thinking
about how institutional change has resulted in a growth of violence
that needs to be set side by side with the more obvious violence
proper to armed conflict and social upheaval. With the concept of
militarism, we have a way of thinking about the political recourse to
violence that may well be seen as a failure to find appropriate new
forms of action and institutional organization. Militarism of this kind is
both a tendency that draws on violence (even if it simulated) to
respond to social problems that otherwise call for solutions requiring
reforms that would break with existing practices. This tendency today
counts as a blockage of the emergence of institutions and practices
adequate to a nonviolent appropriation of the possibilities of globalization.
Militarism remains a major obstacle to peace.”

~Globalization and Violence
The Challenge to Ethics
By EDWARD DEMENCHONOK and RICHARD PETERSON

So here I am finishing up my last assignments for this class and all classes in fact I am currently switching between annoying comments and my problems of globalization take home final.  I found a lot of inner rage in this class so I was able to channel this into my research paper-particularly to criticize the US, one of my favorite activities on the basis of economic policies.  This particular quote came from my research for a problems of globalization paper but nonetheless could have found a home amongst the other twenty page paper I wrote this semester.  Terrorism, from any perspective, cannot be separated from the violence it uses and the institutional entities it opposes.  The one thing I can say for certain is that terrorism is not as simple as irrational religious fanatics but has real root causes and while I did my best to illuminate some of them I feel like I copped out a little because who did I think I was even trying to pretend I had any answers?

The problem, however, it quite self-evident and involves structural violence-an idea that I familiarized myself with these last four years and particularly in much of the reading I have done in an effort to learn all there is to learn about liberation theology.  This is the question I have left unaddressed in my paper, and have nothing really to say about it other than to simply pose it: If Christ is in all of us, an element of the divine in every individual then how do we oppress others, grind them down until they are on their knees begging for mercy and then sit back and watch them live lives of quite desperation or worse agonizing, preventable deaths?  So perhaps structural violence can be blamed for depersonalizing this sort of violence, we never look into the other’s eyes but oppress, dominate, murder from afar.  The structure is evil but those within it remain uninformed… unaware… innocent?  This I cannot accept.  I do believe structural violence exists and I also believe human beings are good, human nature is good and these two beliefs seem paradoxical.

Onward to the second part of the quote about militarism.  Beware of ism’s, there is often so much more to the ism than we wish to believe.  Our response to 9/11 was fear and retaliation.  Someone had to be held accountable, someone had to pay and hey war is always good for the economy right?  I listened to Desmund Tutu speak last year during the summer and I cannot forget his assessment of that infamous day or rather the US’s response to that tragedy.  He said the US had a great opportunity in the wake of that day to make huge strides for peace and forgiveness on a global stage, we could have been the light to the world putting the outpouring sentiments of love and brotherhood to use, we could have sought a nonviolent path, working to change relations with the middle east from a diplomatic and nonviolent camp.  Instead we responded with bombs, fear, and media sensationalism: demonizing the Muslim other and continuing the cycle of violence.

The opening quote of my paper of Sam Harris advocating nuclear pre-eminent strikes against Muslim nations scared the pee out of me.  How will we ever stop this violence and oppression before we usher in our own destruction?

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