On Violence

PeaceViolence takes many forms. These are a few:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Psychological/intellectual
  • Economic
  • Sexual

That’s not a definitive list, and some could be subsets of others, but it’s enough to illustrate the point.

Violence, at its core, is an argument. It is an attempt to get someone else to adopt your position.

For example, in sexual violence, the argument is “you should have sex with me.” The argument is also usually combined with physical violence as well.

In a robbery, the argument is “you should give me your money, because if you don’t, I’ll shoot you.” It’s a very compelling argument. Few people can argue with that.

But whatever form violence takes, there are only 2 basic responses:

  • Run
  • Retaliate

I firmly believe that “run” is the best option in most situations. If you can, run. But that’s not always possible.

In the absence of the ability to escape, what can one do? You’re forced into violence. With your options for non-violence removed, what do you do?

When forced into violence, the only sane option is to escalate the level of violence. That is, when someone is looking to beat you up, pull out a knife and give them the option to run. If they pull a knife, pull out a gun and give them the option to run. And so on as far as you need to take it.

Adopting the position that any violence will be met with an increased level of violence is the most logical option. The only problem, is that you need to be prepared to follow through, no matter how disgusting it is.

This is basically “deterence” theory. It has been used successfully for time immemorial.

The crux of it relies on your willingness to become irrational in an irrational situation. That is, you will adopt a position that is essentially insane when forced to.

There is no right or wrong here. When forced into a bad situation, you need to make the best of it. Adopting an irrational position can result in your opposition returning back to rationality, which is the desired result.

When it comes to different types of violence, I don’t think that it is particularly important what the type of violence used is. Whatever form is used against you isn’t all that relevant. It is preferable to use the same type of violence (or an appropriate kind), but that is not always possible.

Today, there’s a shift from physical violence in many situations to other forms of violence. More and more, the ability of people to run from this violence will diminish. At some point, the powder keg will explode.

Governments cannot be violent against their people with impunity forever. At some point, the violence must stop.

I believe the first and best step is to support free speech. Only by open and free speech can we rationally address problems before they explode.

So the best option is really to try and preempt violence with something other than deterence. That cannot be done by preying on people though. Preempting violence can only be accomplished by doing good to other people.

Perhaps that wasn’t very articulate. Well, I may return to the topic some day and do something a bit better. We’ll see.

Until then, peace. 😉


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