Politics is first of all the art of minimizing and controlling violence. It is a taxing and morally dangerous art because violence itself and the threat of violence are two of its instruments. These can be put to use with almost equal ease by the public authorities and by private men and women, but almost always more massively and more effectively by the authorities. So it is best to begin by worrying about them.
War, riot control, law enforcement, “maintenance of order,” punishment: all these can involve violence. The word itself calls to mind (to my mind, at least) a charging phalanx of helmeted police, an image fixed, I suppose, as much by the media as by recent events. It is by no means an accurate picture of what it is sometimes said to represent: the state stripped naked. But it does make it impossible to pretend that “the use of physical force to inflict injury” (the dictionary definition of violent behavior) is something other than violent when...
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