The Value of Violence
The title of this book is a little startling. We’re so used to thinking of violence as harmful and destructive. How can there be value in that? Though never arguing that violence itself is good, Ginsberg answers that question through a thorough and fascinating discussion of the positive results that violence can yield.
If pressed to think of those positive results, most people would probably mention social change and events like the Civil War or the fight to end Apartheid. While Ginsberg does discuss this, he also articulates a much less-noticed and more thought-provoking type of violence: violence that serves to enforce and uphold the law. This form of violence is manifested in police forces and prison systems.
In addition to offering an in-depth analysis of violence, including its political importance, how states make it easier and more acceptable to perpetrate, and the balance between welfare and warfare, Ginsberg also presents a final argument that completely floored me. He argues that America’s entire democratic process is a way of channeling citizens’ violent tendencies into safe outlets that won’t jeopardize the system. It is just one of his many exciting points that make for truly fascinating reading.
The Value of Violence is well-researched and well-written, and it will definitely make you think. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in politics or the structures of power.
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