The Paths of Political Violence

  • Fabio de NardisEmail author


The phenomenon of the state is connected to that of violence. Modern states arise and are consolidated through a great mobilisation of the resources necessary for the exercise of physical force. Within a specific territory, state violence is exercised to ensure social order and security, both against possible internal threats and to defend the borders against external challenges. In the first case, organised coercion is entrusted to the police; in the second case, to the military forces. Political violence is therefore primarily an instrument exercised from above, that is, by the state on the citizens, but it can also be exercised from below, as an instrument of struggle against public institutions. This is the case of terrorism and of the various forms of anti-institutional political violence, or of social revolutions, seen as processes of subversion of the existing socio-political order by alternative power blocs. Terrorist practice, or pure political violence, is not exercised only against the state and its citizens but can also be an instrument of coercion and deterrence adopted by official power, both in a context of war and in a situation of political stability. The historical evolution of traditional wars into the final stage of asymmetric global wars is a paradigmatic example.


Political violence Policing power Terrorism War Revolution 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, Society, and Human StudiesUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly

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