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The Value of Violence

Benjamin Ginsberg

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Description

This provocative thesis calls violence the driving force not just of war, but of politics and even social stability.
 

     Though violence is commonly deplored, political scientist Ginsberg argues that in many ways it is indispensable, unavoidable, and valuable. 

     Ginsberg sees violence manifested in society in many ways. "Law-preserving violence" (using Walter Benjamin's phrase) is the chief means by which society preserves social order. Behind the security of a stable society are the blunt instruments of the police, prisons, and the power of the bureaucratic state to coerce and manipulate.

     Ginsberg also discusses violence as a tool of social change, whether used in outright revolution or as a means of reform in public protests or the threat of insurrection. He notes that even groups committed to nonviolent tactics rely on the violent reactions of their opponents to achieve their ends. And to avoid the threat of unrest, modern states resort to social welfare systems (a prudent use of the carrot instead of the stick). 

      Emphasizing the unavoidability of violence to create major change, Ginsberg points out that few today would trade our current situation for the alternative had our forefathers not resorted to the violence of the American Revolution and the Civil War.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jul 29, 2013 – State violence is often seen as “the continuation of politics by other means”—to apply Clausewitz’s famous observation on war. In his latest book, Johns Hopkins political scientist Ginsberg (The Fall of the Faculty) takes the contrary view, suggesting that violence is “the driving force of politics.” In six essays, Ginsberg analyzes such topics as “bureaucracy and violence” and how Cold War–era America became a nation marked more by warfare than welfare. He illustrates how the use of force can legitimate the state and examines the mechanization and depersonalization of warfare, noting that the Air Force now trains more drone operators than pilots. However, despite the book’s original and exciting premise, it contains a number of stylistic and methodological flaws: for example, Ginsberg’s use of the term “violence,” which he never defines, is so elastic that it includes wrongful prosecutions by overzealous federal bureaucrats. Ginsberg’s penultimate chapter on “Morality and Violence” is marked by an antigovernment bias, and it includes the questionable claim that “even democratic governments generally have few moral qualms about shedding the blood of disobedient citizens.”
The Value of Violence
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: Sep 17, 2013
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 222 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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