John Keane | Reviews
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Reviews

REVIEWS FOR VIOLENCE AND DEMOCRACY

Review by: Thorsten Bonacker Universität Marburg, Zentrum für Konfliktforschung in German

Demokratien haben mit Gewalt ein Problem. Sie versuchen Gewalt zu vermeiden und sie aus dem Alltag zu verbannen. Sie setzen auf Überzeugung statt auf Erzwingung, auf Kooperation und auf Wettbewerb. Demokratien fürchten Gewalt – so sehr, dass man manchmal das Gefühl hat, Gewalt würde zu einer fixen Idee. Zugleich sind sie von der Gewalt fasziniert. Gewalt ist in Demokratien ständig präsent, ob in Filmen oder als Gegenstand hitziger Debatten. Vielleicht ist es mit der Gewalt in Demokratien so wie mit dem Sex im viktorianischen Zeitalter: Sie fasziniert, gerade weil sie verboten ist.

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John Keane – what a writer

John Keane (Australian born, British academic) discusses fear and violence from within democracies – he discusses democracys’ subtle efforts to draw a veil over their own use of violence. There are also plenty of recorded cases where democratic governments hurl violence against some of their own populations. Such violence is called law and order, the protection of the public interest, or the defence of decency against ˜thugs and criminals, or counter-terrorism” (see his text Keane J, Violence and Democracy, 1998).”As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and the terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman.”Adam Michnik (1998) [cited in Keane, J]Keane also makes this very enlightened statement: “Democracy requires citizens to stay alert, to open their eyes and their mouths – to understand that societies of sheep typically beget governments of wolves. It facilitates criticism of power. In principle, democracy enables everybody to act at a distance from its power centres by means of a functioning civil society that is independent of publicly accountable governmental institutions; together, elected, responsible government and the dispersal of power within civil society provide organised protection from the fear or fact of injury or loss of life.” (Keane, 1998).

Originally published in GIANNI WISE. art & the political