From Political Violence to Citizen Participation
From Political Violence to Citizen Participation / Somos+, Alfonso Susano
Posted on September 13, 2015
Alfonso Susano, 20 August 2015 — The highest level of conscience is
required amongst those who practice politics. On the other hand, the
same activity which should promote liberty and creativity of individuals
can transform into the worst form of violence and suffering.
As the years pass by, various forms of political violence have been
Genocide, which can be described as the deliberate and systematic
destruction, entirely or in part, of an ethnic group, race, religion or
nationality, is one such method of political violence. The Armenian
genocide is a perfect example. The violations of human rights,
recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the countries
which make up the United Nations which define these violations as
follows: slavery, violence towards gender, racial discrimination,
harassment, etc… Different types of wars, political brutality and
paramilitaries (Tonton Macoutes, etc…) and organizations like the Ku
Klux Klan. Hunger, for example, was decreed by Stalin to exterminate
seven million Ukrainians.
Other examples include insurgencies, guerilla warfare, urban guerilla
warfare, or violent rebellion of the natives of a country against their
government or political form. We also find counterinsurgency, defined as
the violent repression of the insurgence, by the power of the state,
also known as state sponsored terrorism, recurring proceedings such as
political assassinations defined as extrajudicial execution or
kidnapping or extrajudicial incarceration or by reserved order.
Terrorism is, in reality, a form of insurgency. Torture, capital
punishment, forced migrations, internal displacements and refugees are
all included. There is also brain washing or, “political re-education.”
As we can see, the government is not the only entity capable of
political violence. When there is an urban guerrilla war, or violent
rebellion of natives of a country against their government or political
form, we are generating political violence.
The role of political violence has been studied throughout history.
Theologians, philosophers, historians, political analysts, and
sociologists have undertaken this task, such as Thomas Aquinas, who in
the XIII century authorized the popular uprising of the people against
tyrannical governments and in the XVI century.
For Niccolo Machiavelli, the reason of state justifies, at times, the
lesser evil, to avoid the greater evil and cruelty can be excused in a
just government, due to the fact that politics is a reality foreign to
all morality, if it is indeed human beings which are to be governed.
In the XIX century, Karl Marx affirmed that “violence is the comrade of
history” and thus authorized by class warfare and historic materialism.
His friend and follower Friedrich Engels wrote in such regard an
un-concluded rehearsal: The Role of Violence in History (1888).
The sociologist Georges Sorel also studied this phenomenon in his
Reflections On Violence (1908), where he authorizes in certain forms the
use of terrorism for social and political purposes. He offers the
legitimacy of violent political actions in the a posteriori success of
it. As Pedro Calderon De La Barca wrote in his book, Life is a Dream,
when in the third journey design civil war, “in such battles/ the
victors are loyal/ the vanquished are traitors.”
SOMOS+ believes that nothing can justify the use of violence; there are
always peaceful ways to achieve our objectives, although it would take a
longer time and would require greater work effort. It is easy to
vanquish by bullets, and the worst thing that can happen to any country
in any part of the world are these violent revolutions where the country
can sometimes remain divided for centuries. There are countries where
peace, harmony, and a common path to success have not been found,
precisely due to the killing of parents, grandparents, close family
members in some moment in time so that even the children and
grandchildren continue in the same conflict.
When it comes to our movement, as Eliecer Avila demonstrates: “the only
weapons we have to count on are our words, our discussions, our truth.”
I think we need to understand very well, the significance of the word,
It is the science that is charged with the study of the State’s public
power. Following with this definition, politics is the exercise of power
that seeks a transcendent end. It promotes participation of citizens,
and possessing the capacity to distribute and execute such power
according to what is necessary, to promote the common good in a society.
This implies that a government should work to find growth in all aspects
that a country needs, creating space for the citizens to participate in
the good of all and not that the people should work so that only they
could find their common good. “Common” sounds too much like that word…
Communism, as the name implies, is a political movement whose doctrine
is based in Marxism and, according to such, has by principle the
objective the transitory taking of the power of the State for the
creation of a social revolution, which through three phases, implants a
Socialist/Communist economic organization, based on the collective
control of production and consumption.
Historically, the various communist parties adopted, under their
leadership, the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as doctrine and
“Political – Revolutionary” programs. This was simplified under the
name of “Marxism,” with the power grab by the Communists in Russia under
the command of Vladimir Lenin in October of 1917.
Political-Revolutionary, is nevertheless participation by the citizen,
the word “political” is discarded and we are left with the word
“revolutionary.” Political violence is a method commonly used not only
by the Communist regime, but also by people and governments of the whole
world, to achieve “political” objectives, that is, related to
legislative, executive and judicial powers of a State.
It demonstrates a concept which is habitually used in political and
social sciences, which makes reference to the destruction of or physical
attempts against objects, institutions, or persons–the selection of
victims and damages– whose purpose, staging and effects possess
political significance intending to modify the behavior of the
protagonists in a situation of negotiation through means of a consummate
In general, political violence is usually clarified by the legitimate
constituted power as felonies such as assault or vandalism, but the end,
(assuming that there is a purpose) it is purely political, though the
means are violent.
SOMOS+ (WE ARE MORE) is a peaceful movement, a movement of ideas, of
debate, where we believe that these should be the weapons of political
modernity in the 21st century, promoting tolerance and respect towards
the right to think differently.
“These are the weapons of peace” and they are based on the participation
of citizens, where a group of young people and even those who are not so
young, have made an analysis of the situation of the spheres in which we
live: economic, political, and social.
Proposals have been created where we affirm that: we believe that the
culture should be this way; we believe that the economy should pass
through certain determined trajectories so that it can flourish; we
believe that a military should function on the foundations of democracy
and determine the best way to safeguard not only national sovereignty
but to protect the human rights of society.
We also believe that politics should be pluralistic and participatory,
where citizens can become actively involved, in and outside of Cuba.
We have compiled an integrating set of proposals of a country, of a
nation, to share with all the people so that they see how many of us
think the same way and how many of us believe that change is needed in Cuba.
These are the reason that SOMOS+ seeks the participation of citizens.
What is citizen participation?
The term citizen participation is the conjunction of actions or
initiatives which intend to inspire participatory democracy to flourish
locally through the integration of the community to the exercise of
politics. It is based on various mechanisms so that the population can
have access to the decisions of the government in an independent way,
with no need to become part of the public administration or of a
Another way in which citizen participation is made manifest is through
NGOs, which place emphasis on certain social subjects without
intervention in governmental functions, rather evaluated, in order to
support them or democratically seek to remove or substitute them. It can
also be proposed through the discussion of important subject matter to
the citizens in organized forums or through other venues in order to
arrive at a consensus.
Nevertheless, since none of this exists in Cuba we are inviting all of
the Cuban people to join us, to begin to think like a nation, to feel
like a nation, to study all the proposals that exist and weigh the
options, their options, and to decide on a correct path. Where there are
fewer judges and more parties. One must join and participate and taste
the delicious savor of helping to build the future that you desire!
Source: From Political Violence to Citizen Participation / Somos+,
Alfonso Susano | Translating Cuba –