Politics Ends Where Violence Begins Essay

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In this paper I will be attempting to discuss the statement that "Politics ends where violence begins." In order to do this I will define the key concepts of this statement, namely those of violence and politics. I will then go on to examine what each of these two concepts entail and then I will attempt to bring the concepts together in a discussion of the above statement. In attempting to do this I will look at the work of Arendt as well as Weber, Heywood, Mills and various political dictionaries in order to be able to obtain a better grasp on the subject at hand.

In order to understand the statement under discussion, there must first be a definition of the two main terms with which we are dealing, namely those of politics and
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We see this most clearly when that power breaks down in some way or another. Arendt emphasizes this point when she writes:

"The sudden dramatic breakdown of power, which ushers in revolutions, reveals in a flash how civil obedience - to the laws, to the rulers, to the institutions - is but the outward manifestation of support and consent." (2002; 30)

A key concept of power is legitimacy. In order for there to be power there must be legitimacy as "power needs no justification, as it is inherent in the very existence of political communities; what, however it does need is legitimacy." (Arendt, 2004; 31). However, power is apparent when people gather to act together in concert and legitimacy is derived by this power by the initial gathering rather than from any actions that may follow of those acting in concert (Arendt, 2002; 31-32).

Legitimacy is derived, as stated by Heywood, "from the Latin legitimare, meaning `to declare lawful'" (2002; 210). The term is also found in the Oxford Concise English Dictionary, defined as, "lawful, proper" (1995; 777).

Then, if, to go back to the definition mentioned earlier in this paper, violence is the "unlawful exercise of force" and legitimacy is "lawful (and) proper", therefore violence cannot be legitimate. Or as put by Arendt,

"Legitimacy, when challenged, is claimed by an appeal to the past, while justification relates…

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