Session 9: Violence Stemming from State Structures

10th Global Conference


Sunday 13th May – Tuesday 15th May 2012
Prague, Czech Republic


Re-imagining Structural Violence: Understanding the Relational Dysfunction between People and Power
Chijioke John Ojukwu
Leeds Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

This paper is an attempt to examine and broaden the conventional understanding of structural violence, with intent to critically deconstruct its philosophical fabric and practical expression. Accordingly, it will argue that structural violence is a moral crisis rooted in the Machiavellian value system which governs the exercise of power, and will further claim that the abuse of power, which this value system produces impedes the consolidation of true human community.

By situating structural violence in the framework of human relationship, this paper will reconstruct structural violence as a relational dysfunction between people and power rooted in the amnesia of our common humanity and mutual belonging, and will attempt to unearth patterns of structural violence which confirm this assumption. At the heart of this extensive discourse is the underlying argument that the theme of mutual belonging and common humanity based on the Christian theology of Love and belonging can prevent the abuse of power and bridge the distance between people and power. In contrast to the Machiavellian ethic of power, which perpetuates structural violence and assault human community, this paper will posit an alternative value system, rooted in the Christian narrative of redemption, which will construes power as an instrument of Love meant to serve humanity. With regard to methodology, this paper will constitute a literature based research, consulting a wide variety of relevant. However, it will use three central case studies which depict structural violence, for its critical analysis, namely: Apartheid in South Africa, Sexual Harassment in Nigerian Universities, and the killing of twin in Pre-colonial Nigeria.

Capitalism and Violence, or The Violence of Capital
Rochelle M Green
University of Arkansas, Little Rock, USA

As Karl Marx described primitive accumulation in his first volume of Capital, it is nearly impossible to miss the stark pessimism of Capitalism’s foundations. Understanding the origins of capital wealth, capitalism as a social and economic system is linked to gross acts of violence, at least two orders of which are discernible. In order to facilitate the surplus of capital necessary for the increase in methods of production, which will further entail even greater surplus, it follows that: 1.) There is a clear relationship between the accumulation of global capital and the efforts of colonisation; and 2.) There is, according to Marx, a necessary violence at the local level structured to maintain the labor force. While it is clear that this position maintains an historical perspective, it is less clear how this process of wealth accumulation continues without the type of colonisation described by Marx. This paper is an attempt to examine the ways in which factors of violence on global and local scales continue to permeate the capitalist mode of production. As such, I argue that it is the subtle relationship between capital and violence that has helped to facilitate one of the most volatile periods in human history. Thus, I conclude with a question. Does the reformulation, the reconsideration, or the re-envisioning of capitalism help us overcome violence?

“Not Enough of Them are Done Away With, Why Interrogate Them at All – They Should be Lynched”: Political Trials in the Post-war Slovenia and Public Comments during the 1947 Nagode Trial
Ziga Koncilija
Young Reseacher (phd candidate), Institute for Contemporary History Ljubljana, SLovenia

After the communist takeover of power and the severe extrajudicial retaliation against the occupiers and their associates the mass executions in Slovenia were completed. In their stead the courts and judicial processes became the main tools of repression. Many enemies of the new people’s authorities had to face what were initially military courts, then the National Honour Court, and finally, since the middle of September 1945, also regular courts. Estimates show that in the post war period between 20,000 and 25,000 people were tried, and of these around 8,000 were convicted. The fundamental purpose of the political trials in the post war period, most of which took place between 1945 and 1953, was to retaliate against the representatives of the occupiers’ regimes, national traitors, as well as all class related and ideological opponents within and without the People’s Front and the Party. The intelligence and security service – the so called Department for the Protection of People (OZNA) – was a very important integral part of the newly formed repression apparatus. It had exclusive jurisdiction over the arrests and investigations in case of suspicions of political offences. One of its primary tasks was to establish a network of agents (in the end of 1950 as many as 24,000 informants were registered) and monitor the “pulse” of the public. The preserved reports show that people from various walks of life were agents, and they were present almost everywhere: homes, city squares, village taverns, companies, schools, faculties, cultural institutions, as well as the police, army, ministries and other institutions. These agents carefully recorded the discussions and opinions they heard in the field and sent reports to the central offices of the security service. The purpose of such activities was to follow the people’s opinions and inform the authorities, which could, on the basis of these reports, adapt the policy and level of state repression, monitor and steer the people’s mentality, as well as seek out any potentially suspicious people. In the following discussion I will analyse public comments in case of the proceedings against Črtomir Nagode and his group, which we deem as the basic judicial process against the internal opposition within the People’s Front. The trial took place from 29 July to 18 August 1947 in Ljubljana. The group was charged with attempting to establish a legal opposition against the people’s authority, collaborating with foreign intelligence services, contacting hostile emigration, and presenting false interpretations of the situation in Slovenia and Yugoslavia in the foreign press. The preserved reports provide an interesting and valuable insight into the people’s mentality, revealing how ordinary people saw such demonstrations of power on the part of the new socialist socio political system.

Download Draft Conference Paper (pdf)