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Fabricating the Color Line in a White Democracy

From Slave Catchers to Petty Sovereigns

Ben Brucato

Though states are founded in and dependent on successfully claiming a monopoly on the use of violent force and the certification of citizenship, these means suggest particular ends: the production of the social order. Police have the primary mandate to produce order and administer poverty. From a new abolitionist perspective, the particular social order of the U.S. is unique. The white race was founded through the production and maintenance of the color line and performed through a cross-class alliance of whites. Policing is deeply implicated in these processes. A historical account of police during the Herrenvolk era is provided. Finally, the persistence of racist policing is explained in light of a now officially color-blind political order, with officers functioning as petty sovereigns in a neoliberal era.

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A State of Force

The Repressive Policing of Contention in Queensland under Frederic Urquhart

Paul Bleakley

Australian history is littered with examples of situations in which police have engaged in the use of force—in some cases, disproportionate violence—to maintain order and stability. In addition to this effort to control the population and ensure social order, extreme use of force was a key factor in repressing civil dissent and preventing marginalized communities from exercising their voice within the social discourse. Former Queensland Police Commissioner Frederic Urquhart was at the forefront of several high-profile examples of police enforcing social control during his tenure with the Queensland police, including the punitive expeditions of the Native Mounted Police Force, the civil disorder of the 1912 general strike, and the chaos associated with the 1919 Red Flag riots. In developing an appreciation for Urquhart’s behavior and motivations, it can be seen that the Queensland police have always served as a body dedicated to ensuring conformity through any means necessary.

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Yagil Levy

This article addresses the question of why Israel initiated the Second Lebanon War so quickly, despite the civilian agenda to which the government had been committed, other mitigating factors, and the fact that the kidnapping of two soldiers did not warrant such a massive operation. Arguably, the war reflected the syndrome of a gap of legitimacies, that is, the gap that has emerged since the 1980s between high levels of political legitimacy for using force and low levels of social legitimacy for making the attendant sacrifices. Both values led to belligerency. Strong support for the use of force pushed Israel into taking offensive action that a civilian government could not contain, while the low level of social legitimation for sacrifice led to speedy decision-making and the desire for a swift conclusion by using massive force. Such a response would obviate any restraints on military action that might result from discussions about how to avoid sacrifices.

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Theorizing Democracy and Violence

The Case of Northern Ireland

Adrian Little

This article examines the concept of violence in contemporary political theory focusing in particular on the possibility of rethinking the relationship between violence and democracy. Rather than seeing democracy and violence as contrasting concepts, it argues that democratic societies have always been founded on the basis of violent engagement at some level. And, of course, the modern state has always claimed the legitimate use of force as a key ingredient in its authority. The article contends that many contemporary democratic discourses have lost sight of the integral relationship between democracy and violence. Indeed it is frequently the case that discourses of democracy are couched in ethical terms as the obverse of violence. Ironically, this trend is often most apparent where societies are either making a transition to democracy or where a process of conflict transformation is taking place. The limitations of these approaches for our understanding of violence and democracy will be outlined in this article through an examination of contemporary political developments in Northern Ireland.

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Religion and Community

Adam Smith on the Virtues of Liberty

Charles L. Griswold

The architects of what one might call ‘classical’ or ‘Enlightenment’ liberalism saw themselves as committed to refuting the claims to political sovereignty by organized religion.2 The arguments against the legitimacy of a state-supported religion, and in the extreme case, of a religious monopoly, are so integral a part of the Enlightenment’s effort to put politics on a stable and just foundation as to constitute one of the controlling themes of the period. Liberal politics requires toleration, or better, liberty of religious belief. And this in turn implies that religious institutions be privatized, as it were, and that just politics be secularized. Legitimate rule is to lie in the consent of the ruled rather than in the laws of God as interpreted by his ministers on earth. Differences in religious outlook are to be settled, as Jefferson tells us, by persuasion, not by force, and persuasion is a private matter. The state has no role to play except (to simplify somewhat) that of preventing the use of force by the parties involved. As Jefferson strikingly puts it: ‘The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg … Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments [against error in religion].’

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Brian C. Rathbun

Germany's behavior during the lead-up to the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003 seemed to confirm that the country is marked by a strategic culture of pacifism and multilateralism. However, a closer look at German actions and pattern of participation in military operations reveals that German pacifism is a myth. There was no cross party consensus on German foreign policy in the 1990s around a principled opposition to the use of force. Even in the early years after the Cold War, the Christian Democrats began very quickly, albeit deliberatively and often secretively, to break down legal and psychological barriers to the deployment of German forces abroad. Pacifism persisted on the left of the political spectrum but gave way following a genuine ideological transformation brought about by the experience of the Yugoslav wars. The nature of Germany's objection to the Iraq invasion, which unlike previous debates did not make ubiquitous references to German history, revealed how much it has changed since the end of the Cold War. Had the election in 2002 gone differently, Germany might even have supported the actions of the U.S. and there would be little talk today of a transatlantic crisis. It is now possible to treat Germany as a "normal" European power.