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The Hidden Structure of Violence

The Hidden Structure of Violence: Who Benefits from Global Violence and War

Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Hidden Structure of Violence
    Book Description:

    Acts of violence assume many forms: they may travel by the arc of a guided missile or in the language of an economic policy, and they may leave behind a smoldering village or a starved child. The all-pervasiveness of violence makes it seem like an unavoidable, and ultimately incomprehensible, aspect of the modern world. But, in this detailed and expansive book, Marc Pilisuk and Jen Rountree demonstrate otherwise. Widespread violence, they argue, is in fact an expression of the underlying social order, and whether it is carried out by military forces or by patterns of investment, the aim is to strengthen that order for the benefit of the powerful.

    The Hidden Structure of Violencemarshals vast amounts of evidence to examine the costs of direct violence, including military preparedness and the social reverberations of war, alongside the costs of structural violence, expressed as poverty and chronic illness. It also documents the relatively small number of people and corporations responsible for facilitating the violent status quo, whether by setting the range of permissible discussion or benefiting directly as financiers and manufacturers. The result is a stunning indictment of our violent world and a powerful critique of the ways through which violence is reproduced on a daily basis, whether at the highest levels of the state or in the deepest recesses of the mind.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-545-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 9-14)

    NO SOCIAL SCIENTIST IS VALUE-FREE. We write from a deep belief that life is not only complex but also precious. Each individual is part of a web of connections to others and to the surrounding ecology, a marvelous design that sustains this delicate balance that is life. We believe also that this complex masterpiece is in danger that is largely the result of how many humans think and behave. For life, particularly human life, to continue there must be a balance between how we use our interconnections for our own needs and how we nurture these connections so that the...

  5. 1— The Costs of Modern War
    (pp. 15-54)

    IF WE ARE EVER TO MOVE away from the realities of global violence we must first face them. In this chapter we look at the practice of military violence, the circumstances that include organized efforts to use lethal force to destroy and to kill others who are defined as adversaries. We also look at the extent of military violence and its consequences. There are three major problems in conveying the costs of military violence. First, the forms in which military encounters occur have changed dramatically. Wars may refer to one-sided and barely contested interventions or to engagements between the military...

  6. 2— Killing: War and the Minds of Men
    (pp. 55-79)

    CHAPTER 1 LOOKED AT THE DEVASTATING consequences of war. Unlike costs of natural disasters, these costs result from decisions by humans that inflict suffering and death upon others. Among all forms of destructiveness, war is unique in the manner in which it is justified. A declaration of war gives a state the recognized right to order people to conquer, to destroy, and to kill. Considering the consequences, why do we do it?

    The gains from war are questionable. Historian Barbara Tuchman’sThe March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnamdetails a history of the human propensity to engage in violent...

  7. 3— The Hidden Structure of Violence
    (pp. 80-108)

    ALTHOUGH INDIVIDUAL ACTS OF VIOLENCE are readily noticed, there is often a pattern underlying them that is less obvious. Violence is not adequately understood by the examination of occurrences of specific violent behavior. Rather, the view is that beneath these phenotypic events there lies a genotypic pattern, often hidden, that is a fundamental factor in its occurrence. The global economy consigns persons, communities, and habitats to roles that enhance the likelihood of violence in many forms. Pathways may be traced from the global corporate economy to violence against workers, consumers, indigenous communities, and life-sustaining habitats as well as to acts...

  8. 4— People, Farmland, Water, and Narcotics
    (pp. 109-130)

    ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION HAS BEEN SHOWN to create extremes of wealth among a few and serious poverty for many. This chapter examines an even greater impact of the same corporate economic forces upon the land, water, cultivation of food, and the precarious link between the ecological system and the continuation of life.

    Ancient migrations were common as hunters and gatherers sought food and hospitable surroundings. Then, agriculture contributed to a sense of permanence and place that lasted across generations, sometimes even providing a surplus for trade and for more complex cultural development. People were once closer to the acre of land...

  9. 5— Networks of Power
    (pp. 131-173)

    THIS CHAPTER EXAMINES THE TOPIC of power. Power is a phenomenon that is invisible to the naked eye, and one that is more deeply surrounded by taboos than was the topic of sex in Victorian days. We focus on the movers and shakers, the concentrations of power, from which flow decisions that contribute greatly to global violence. The lens of power is not the only one that frames our reality. There is also a reality that is captured in the daily lives of people finding joy and meaning, often under circumstances of war, displacement, illness, and loss. There are larger...

  10. 6— Realpolitik: Strategies and Tactics for Winning
    (pp. 174-218)

    IN CHAPTER 5 WE LAID OUT the system of interconnected military and corporate elites whose power dominates decisions that affect the use and distribution of resources. They exercise great, although not absolute, power over decisions about what measures should be taken to protect their wealth and power. As one part of their effort, they have invested heavily in the work of a large number of professional strategists—military planners, economists, and system scientists—who work in and out of government to bring creative ideas to the preservation of the war system and for ways to increase the power, influence, and...

  11. 7— Disinformation
    (pp. 219-265)

    THE PRECEDING CHAPTERS HAVE DESCRIBED structural violence within industry and agriculture. The chapters have documented a multibillion-dollar defense industry and past military conflicts and coups for corporate gain. They have described a system of power that serves the largest corporate players, much to the detriment of many of the world’s people. Since there are relatively few beneficiaries and many casualties of this system, one might expect there would be major voices of dissent. But there is little information circulating about power and influence. Opposing voices are heard, but focused discontent is discouraged by a flow of information that makes the...

  12. 8— Values and Habits that Maintain a Violent System
    (pp. 266-282)

    THE THESIS POSED SO FAR in this book is that military and economic violence in the global era is a reflection of the increasing concentration of wealth and power among a few dominant players to the exclusion of others.¹ These influential players live in a world of selective information that reduces legitimacy from any who would contest their power. In this chapter we examine the widely held beliefs among ordinary people that help to preserve the power elite and its increasing threat to freedom.

    When a U.S. president or a secretary of state visits a university campus or public forum,...

  13. 9— The Evolution of Concentrated Corporate Power to Inflict Violence and Injustice: Dangers and Hopes
    (pp. 283-300)

    SO FAR THE HIDDEN STRUCTURE OF violence that we have uncovered is one of concentrated military and corporate entities and the networks that connect and protect them while excluding others. Here we move on to what these structures have done to our minds and to our sense of what it means to be human in a human community. Ultimately any shift from a world of violence will require from each of us a heartfelt and compassionate dedication to justice.

    Although there have been radical changes in the operation of large corporations from the early 1900s to the present time, some...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 301-344)
  15. Index
    (pp. 345-359)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 360-360)