Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Political Science


Political Science 357. Violence and Revolution

A quick look at history proves that mankind is a violent creature. Is man so by nature? Or, rather, there are specific and recurrent modes of interaction – e.g. war, colonialism, oppression, occupation, humiliation – that make violent men out of the engaged actors? How do the enemy – that is, the target of violence – and the wounded – that is, the victim of violence – emerge within these modes of interaction? How should we characterize violence in the first place? Is non-violence really an option, especially when the enemy is ruthless? What about the State? Is it really the case that the State exists to harness men’s violence against one another? What if the State is indeed one of the very sources of violence? Then, shouldn’t we revolt (violently?!) against the State? What are the causes of revolutions? What is the part of ideas and ideals (besides material causes) in the makeup of revolutions? How did past revolutions take place? Throughout the course of the semester we will ponder upon the above questions and seek appropriate, though tentative and incomplete, answers to them. After all, to resist violence or to apply it and, to revolt or not revolt, one is better to know what violence and revolution really look like!