Liberty and Violence

Luke "Lantern" Thompson
5 min readSep 22, 2021
The monopoly on violence.

VIOLENCE, within the category of ordinary language, is used to describe aggressive actions that are driven by ones impulsivity and emotivism. The word violence is often used to condemn a persons behavior or describe what took place at a large gathering of people.

Violence is a word that is rarely used to inspire people to be proactive in whatever their endaevour is unless one is apart of a cult where violence is apart of their activism. The word violence is seldom used to describe a brawl in hockey, even though it ought to be used to describe someone that is not apart of hockey’s nature. In other words, fights in hockey may be facilitated by the referees for the purposes of entertainment, but it is not indigenous to hockey’s objective and should therefore be called violent without appealing to some vague notion of masculinity. It is true that hockey, like rugby or Greco-Roman wrestling, has a high amount of physicality, but physicality and violence are not identical. Physicality can beget violence, but the onus is on the participant to not lose his or her composure by attempting to make their rage compatible with sport. Rage and skill cannot be reconciled because one must overrule the other. When rage rules, sport collapses. When skill rules, sport remains.

This is not to say that sport ought to be or is a dispassionate activity where the players are reduced to chess pieces, but knowing this distinction helps demarcate what is done out of subliminal rage(such as a reckless tackle in soccer or rugby) and what is done out of impersonal necessity(like a heavy upper-body tackle in rugby league that was made to dispossess the player of the ball). Outside of sport, people in public servant positions such as police officers and nurses should also abstain from needlessly imposing themselves on others which can been seen as violent even though that type of violence differs from a domestic abuse situation. A police officer should not arrest someone based on a dubious mental health diagnosis which has not seen the arrestee’ commit acts of violence as a result of his supposed mental state. The nurse should not restrain or sedate the patient-prisoner if he or she is placid and therefore has the ability to not give consent in a rational manner.

The police need to use physicality to subdue someone who is unruly and vile whereas violently arresting someone entails kicking, punching and tasering someone too many times. Tasering someone is not violent in the common sense of the word, but it becomes violent when it used too many times because it has not reached its intended effect or is only used because the arresting officer is lazy or scared. Using a gun at the shooting range is not violent in the common sense of the word, but it can be used as a vehicle of violence when a police officer shoots someone when the officer is not in danger or presumes that there may be danger just because the suspect owns a rifle. Physicality is necessary to arrest someone, but violence is not necessary even if the arrestee’ is behaving violently. Violence does not have to be defined as something that is animalistic, it can take different forms which may be praised or condemned.

The various war memorial parks are places where violence and tranquility are reconciled because the soldiers had to endure mayhem in order to reinstate tranquility once the war had ceased. Participating in war was thus a necessary evil to defeat an entity that wanted to impose itself onto the world. Violence, in the interests of national defense, was a necessity in that it had to transcend mere physicality to maintain the personal liberty of everyone else. It could be argued that war is not violent in the common sense of the word because it is not as personable as a brawl in the street. War, being an exception to violence as commonly defined, could be seen as a transcendent physicality in that killing others is justified because it is proportional to the force used against the defense. The problem with this argument is that is assumed that soldiers are just overly-professional automata who will shoot out of self defense on-demand but will never succumb to heinous acts of violence. This assumption is, of course, asinine in that Guantanamo Bay, Eisenhower’s concentration camps, British concentration camps and all the German prisoners of war captured by the French are examples of places that could only be maintained by those who are willing to use violence without conscience. When war ceases, there are no excuses one can give in justifying inhumane punishment.

It could also be argued that violence is inherent in nature which means that the nature of violence emerges from our biological makeup. In other words, man is pre-disposed to be violent regardless of his immaterial psyche. Even if we accept that the mind is separate from the brain, man’s biology overrides rationality in times where his instinctive dislike for another mirrors the instincts of an animal at the time. It follows from this argument that man requires a social contract to keep him in a constant state of uneasiness because the threat of imprisonment will shock him back into reason. The problem with this argument is that disputes rarely result in violence unless there is enough anger to precipitate a brawl. Anger may be present in many disputes, but few are willing to become violent to gratify urges that achieve nothing productive. Reason restrains our natural inclinations even if we accept that we are primed to become violent due to evolution. Evolution cannot deny that man has a mysterious capacity for reason which is widely understood by his fellows despite our genetic differences.

Violence cannot not be explained or justified by appeals to nature, it is reason, be it bad or good reasoning, which transcends nature and precedes acts of violence in many instances where there are conflicts of high tension. The overarching question of this piece is weather or not violence hampers or contributes to ones personal liberty and civil liberty. Violence creates a spectacle, but it may not shift public opinion when many people appear to be too content with their current lifestyles to become activists for change. The people participating in violent acts may feel empowered for a time, but liberty does not lay within arbitrary gratification. A rational liberty emerges when amendments are made to certain laws and when people become more productive and educated to produce a prosperous society which can only become prosperous when there are less restrictions.

Now, considering that violence is limited, it can only be narrowly and minimally applied when people seek to resist(not attack without warrant) that which is blatantly wrong. Physical resistance can intimidate politicians even though their press conference persona’s would have you think otherwise. Physical resistance should only be used when all attempts to ignore tyranny have failed and just laws, which contradict non-sensical laws(or laws so-called) have been discarded because they are not recognized at present. Passive non-compliance must become active when those who are supposed to uphold the law become key in its degradation. Physical resistance should be either kept to a minimum or not done at all if passive non-compliance is effective, but when one must choose between resisting or losing their liberty, then one must resist.