Violence As A Political Weapon – Essay

It continues to increase all over the world. Hatred for races and communities, ambition of achieving independent States, anger against the established system, poverty or just plan jealousy for the USA for being so rich and liberal, these are some thing that cause people to take up arms.

No country is safe from violence and nor is violence new. Right from the dawn of history, nation have fought each other. Heads of States have been assassinated for causes that now look trivial and even bizarre. In different time and cultures, leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Rajiv Gandhi have lost their lives to violence. However, it is difficult to see what objectives are achieved by violence. If the right is against the system, the system does not change through some bomb blasts in public places. Nor does revolution come about by random acts of violence. The USA, which was the victim of dramatic attacks a few years back, still remains a rich country, pursuing its own agenda. Even assassination of political leaders have not made any difference to the system, for example after the death of Rajiv Gandhi the Congress swept the elections and today Mrs. Sonia Gandhi holds the reins of the party. There is not much change in any policy of any country as a response to violence or killings.


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Yet taking to violence is nothing new. If we look within history we find details of violent movements that survived for some time, but then fizzled out as they were going nowhere. In fact, was was the main occupation of regimes in the past. This passed and counties decided to live peacefully and prosper as a result. But the human race could never get rid of the violent streak of some of its members. In the late 19th Century anarchist violence raised its head and hundred of lives were lost in Europe and USA. This violence was conducted by people who wanted a world without Central Government, a world without rule. The theory was that killing people would generate propaganda and hence their objective would be achieved.


Modern day terrorists cannot match the scale of the violence unleashed by the anarchists who were inspired by questionable theories. it might also have created sense of fear at the time, but we do not remember the anarchist violence or its perpetrators now. Central Governments, the main targets of the violence, exist and thrive; there is not a single country that has willingly adopted anarchy.

If violent movements fail to achieve results, why then should people risk their lives to kill some people who have not directly harmed them? It may help to draw attention to cause for a short time, but in a few days the world media moves on and the incident is all forgotten except the minds of relatives of the victims. At one level, therefore, violence is a senseless thing. So why can’t people live peacefully and let other be?

The question has drawn many researchers and all kinds of theories have been put forward. Foremost among them is the religious context, when members of a religion start harboring grudges or dislike members of other religions. Much of modern day violence falls in this category, when Jihad or holy war gives religious tones to violence against Israel, USA and Jammu & Kashmir in India. Such is the zeal that perpetrator also loses his life in suicide, perhaps as a sacrifice to a blood thirst God. Of course, it is another matter that no religion preaches hatred, murder or suicide, so the acts can hardly be described as religious.

While religion is an important cause of misguided martyrs, not all movements have religious undertones. Many like LTTE of Sri Lanka seek political control. It is easy for such movement to recruit the disgruntled in society-people who have lost jobs or are poor or who nurse a grudge against society in general. The movements are able to generate drams that once they succeed, a life of prosperity or the kingdom of God will be achieved. Terrorist outfits are known to offer large sums of money to the families of a suicide bomber and part of the motivation may well be economic exploitation.


Whatever the motivations, revolutionary movements tend to degerate, into criminal business ventures. Extortion, murder, and kidnapping soon take over whatever revolutionary zeal that may have existed once. the commercialization of revolution is one of the reasons that revolutionary movements do not succeed. Even if we accept that such movements are not corrupt, they seldom achieve what they set out to. For one thing, people get tired of the continuing violence. “Terrorism seldom achieves the ends desired of it is now accepted as a truth”.

India has a legacy of violence. Punjab passed through a long period of militancy. North-East States, Bihar, AP and Chhattisgarh are among the states that are affected by violent movements. In recent years Naxalism has come to dominate news again. Apart from Naxalite violence other states have their own problems. In Gujarat, communal violence is periodically reported. At the same time, the North-Eastern States have their own outfits.

Since, it is easy to give a poor man a cause to fight for, it follows that poverty gives rise to violent movements. So the government must make efforts to bring the marginalized people into the mainstream. Another way out is to encourage liberal education for the communities. If we encourage people to open minded individuals, they would be less prone to taking up arms. An understanding of different cultures makes a man more tolerant. Also whether it is Islam or Hinduism, no religion is so weak that it might be corrupted if women are educated.

Lethargy of the government has caused these movements to become active again. At the same time, a proper method of grievance redressal must be put in place so that people have means to approach the government. Lack of communication with the government causes many poor people to take up arms.

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