Monday, 23 June 2008

Violence in politics

. Last night I blogged a response to Chris Dillow's appalling piece on Liberal Conspiracy regarding the eviction of Alexandra from the Big Brother house. The debate that has arisen from the article does touch on a crucial issue (not relevant to the immediate context) about the role violence plays in politics.

I fall somewhere between the two schools of thought; I recognise that violence is always regretable but within certain context's is morally justifiable. This debate is particularly pertinent with the Zimbabwe unravelling before our very eyes. People rightly deplore the violence of Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF but what if the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were to arm itself? My feeling would be to support any steps that it and it's supporters took to defend itself (in many ways this is preferable to the intervention of foreign powers).

Examples like this illustrate why I could never in all good conscience describe myself as a pacifist. The MDC and it's supporters have the right to resist the aggression of the state and Zanu-PF and defend themselves from that using any means that they find necessary and there is a world of moral and political difference between that resistance and the blows rained down upon them. It is a sad truth that the only language that brutal dictators do often understand is to meet with a determined rebuke which can be violent and to disarm people in the face of that by saying they must only non-violently resist is wrong in my eyes.

Support for that right would continue right up to support for the overthrow of the regime by force if necessary but not towards violent reprisals against Zanu-PF supporters which gives us a good indication of where the line is drawn. This is the key to this debate; it is about judging things in concrete, not in the morally abstract and drawing clear lines in the sand.


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