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Political Violence in Ireland.

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Townshend, Charles. Political Violence in Ireland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983. In this book, Charles Townshend presents the idea that the existence of discord in Ireland is due to the relationship of government and resistance throughout the last century. He sets out to discover why political violence, which was commonplace in early 19th century England continued to be used as an accessory to, or even a substitute for, modern political dialogue in Ireland long after it ceased to be of any significance on the mainland. The author puts his material in a historical context in order to allow the evidence to speak for itself, rather than imposing explanatory structures. Townshend states that there are two main concepts. One, government finds its primary definition in the absence of resistance; and two, resistance finds its meaning at the determination of the government. Therefore, government not only determines such events, but consequently, their reactions can create them. The difficulty for the British government in Ireland was the apparent need for the administration to use force on, rather than the consent of, the people. ...read more.


Circumstances such as this have been known to occur in Ireland and therefore one should ask what they were. Too often people tend to overlook the questions "how" and "why" political violence works, and consequently why it is used. This seems to be a result of the feeling that it is, in Arendt's words "obvious to all." As far as I see it, if a government hopes to accomplish more than just "dealing" with the surface problems that the function of violence confronts it with, they should undoubtedly make it a prime concern. However, when it comes to making legitimate policies, the term "violence" will cause some tension. This is due to the fact that from certain viewpoints, political violence is by definition the illicit use of force for political ends.3 Its illegitimacy justifies, and in fact requires, the use of counter-force. The development of England in the nineteenth century was widely seen as a progress from violence to order. The duty to maintain law and order in Ireland has always been an impartial issue. ...read more.


With all this said, however, there still remain questions without answers and ideas that require more thought. Was Ireland as violent as the Englishmen set to govern her claimed? Was the rest of Britain as unlike Ireland as it appeared to be? Townshend's suggestion that the civil war in the west was already in progress before the truce opens up a whole new perspective on Irish civil war history. After reading this book I began to understand that everything would not always be totally clear to those without some scholarly knowledge of Irish history. Nonetheless, Townshend's analysis of the motives and opinions of violent men, of British government reactions and of the lines between constitutional policies and threatened violence is a significant contribution to the historical dimensions of a tragic contemporary subject. 1 H. Arendt, 'On Violence' Crises of the Republic (Harmondsworth, 1973), p. 87. 2 Charles Townshend, Political Violence in Ireland (Oxford University Press, 1983) p. 71. 3 D. Easton, The Political System (New York, 1953) p. 149 4 Charles Townshend, Political Violence in Ireland (Oxford University Press, 1983) p. 386 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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