Accounts of Enmity in Politics and Government



‘Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’2 With a few changes, the statement of President George W. Bush of the United States could be that of any one of a broad sweep of political rhetoricians who in their account of the world divide it into friends and enemies, and for whom there is no grey area, and no third or uncommitted position, between themselves and their opponents. If he who says organisation says oligarchy, it sometimes seems as if he who says politics says enmity. If that is so, the new millennium is entirely typical. The rhetoric of politics at the start of the twenty-first century is filled with images of danger and hostility which provide both illustrations and organising themes for accounts of the world. Political leaders of every persuasion and in every type of regime warn of the dangers facing their subjects and followers: terrorism, religious fanaticism, economic imperialism, military adventurism, moral corruption, the collapse of social order, riot, crime, and depravity. Nations, faiths, parties, and movements say loudly and clearly who their enemies are, so much so that their own character seems overshadowed by that of those whom they depict as threatening them. The evils of Western materialism have a more prominent role in such narratives than the virtues of Eastern spiritually informed material reticence, while the menace of religious fundamentalism takes up more space in the agenda of propaganda than the benefits of rational caution and humanistic respect.


Political Action Political Life Political Enquiry Normal Politics Potential Enemy 
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Copyright information

© Rodney Barker 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The London School of Economics and Political ScienceUK

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