Friday, November 19, 2004

"Virtuous Violence" 

In this Antiwar.com column, There Is No One Left to Stop Them author Paul Craig Roberts says "Many Bush partisans send me e-mails fiercely advocating "virtuous violence." They do not flinch at the use of nuclear weapons against Muslims who refuse to do as we tell them." I had never heard the term "virtuous violence" before, so I Googled it.
A lot of the references referred to "virtuous violence" as a term used by parents to justify spanking and even forms of child abuse. It also has had religious connotations in some references.
But this March, 2004 essay on Virtuous Violence by Chicago journalist Bob Koehler seems to be the most relevant definition.
In it, he quotes a 1962 paper by psychologist Gabriel Breton, writing about the human compulsion to find a reason for waging war.
"Peace constitutes a terrible danger. . . As (peace) presents itself today, it threatens to deprive us forever of the justifications of virtuous violence. What shall we do? Along with representations of hell, it is the destruction by arms of large human groups which nourishes most assiduously the popular imagery. If violence ceases to be demanded by right and justice, will we have to deal directly with the monster who inhabits each one of us? . . . The purely political categories disappear and any position, opinion or policy is classified as good or evil. . . Violence has never tried to look so righteous.”

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