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Violence and Terror Definition Comparison Report


Different people have different views and opinions when it comes to violence and terror. For instance, Fanon and Arendt have their different perspectives concerning violence and particularly violence used by people and violence used by governments seeking, impartiality, social change, justice and liberty. In view of colonized people, Fanon considers violence to be integral and unavoidable within revolts and rebellions. He claims that violence is essential for the decolonization process to be fully achieved (to decolonize both mindsets and societies). Violence is, therefore, unifying, purifying, and fruitful. Quite the opposite, Arendt normally considers contemporary governments who exercise violence, mainly extreme violence, to be acting illicitly and criminally. Violence and power are not the same (although, political hypothesis tends to connect them). According to Arendt, countries resort to violence and force when they lack power, this is because true power emanates from approval, strength of will, and common purpose. This explains why the present world is filled with “powerless” individuals and states: ‘violence is the only thing left for them.’

Literature Review

In Culture of Terror-Space of Death essay, Taussig writes about the different acts of violence from the perspective of the victimizer and that of the victim. In the essay, he uses several references like Simson, Conrad and Casement to show what ought to be taken into account when discussing acts of violence. Taussig perceived Casement’s study as being fictional because labor was not inadequate. The terror/violence was used exclusively to maintain economical labor.

Taussig has used other peoples’ research on violence and terror as basis for his own study, however, he critically assesses their standpoints perceiving them as being fictionalized and not containing the entire truth. Taussig’s essay gives so many examples concerning violence and terror but his point is not clearly stated or specific. It is hard to establish Taussig’s viewpoint regarding violence and terror, at some point, it appeared as if he supported victimizers, as if they did not have a choice but to inflict pain on others. At other times, it seemed as if he believed that Indians were tormented unremittingly and without compassion. Michael Taussig has, however, carried out a very influential analysis of the society/culture in which violence reigns supreme.

In the essay, he has greatly focused on the world of victimizers and victims where he explains why and how their thoughts vary from those who luckily do not fall in either of the two groups. Taussig strongly states that no matter how much people try to comprehend the psychology of violence/terror or oppression, they can never adequately get to its core because they have never experienced it with their own flesh or eyes in actual fact (Scheper-Hughes, 39). He meant that since terror and violence stories normally reach people through words of others, it is almost impossible to comprehend why some people go to extreme lengths to obliterate other people.

Taussig believes that Africans, Indians and all those who were victims of Imperial rule did not live in the same world people live today. To some extent, Taussig essay supports Fanon’s and Arendt’s thoughts on violence. Taussig argues that it is almost impossible to understand the psychology of terrorism because many people have not experienced it. He believes that victimizers have their reasons for being violent but he also feels that people should not terrorize others. Terror and violence may seem evil but people should first understand the reasons. Fanon was not the only one supporting violence as the only way of dealing with neocolonialism and colonialism; his views are partly supported by Taussig. Colonialism greatly destroyed the socio-cultural, economic and political accomplishments of Africa but the ultimate triumph of freedom forces in Africa supported Fanon’s maxim that “only violence pays.” According to Fanon, violence was vital; he described the manipulative and abusive relationships between Africans and colonialists. Brutality and violence were the major aspects of colonialism. Fanon’s fury on colonialism is portrayed where he says that “No diplomacy, no political genius, no skill can cope with it except force.”

Fanon supported violence entirely and he depicted it as the only way of wiping out colonialism, thus, decolonizing societies and minds. Although Taussig partly supports victimizers, he challenges Fanon’s ideas of excessive force and using violence and brutality as the “only” way out. Taussig believes that victimizers and victims live in their separate world and it is difficult to understand the psychology of their violence. Fanon, on the other hand, died unremorseful believing that “colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.” Arendt has also written about her reflections on violence; she is entirely against brutality and the use of force unlike Fanon.

Those who demand the use of force and violence attempt to acquire and maintain control. She defines power as being psychological; an ethical dynamism and vitality that makes people want to submit and obey. On the other hand, violence imposes compliance and obedience through the force and physical compulsion. She believes that the use of violence can temporarily enforce obedience but command becomes unstable because when violence ends or lessens, there is less incentive to obey the people in authority. Little violence is unproductive and too much of it causes rebellion and uprisings, therefore, violence requires continuous alertness and caution. Taussig’s Culture of Terror—Space of Death supports her views to a certain extent; Taussig essay does not support use of violence wholly, he believes in understanding the psychology of terrorism and establishing the entire truth.

In some cases, he thinks that violence is necessary while in others it is not. In the essay, he writes that “We victims and victimizers, we’re part of the same humanity, colleagues in the same endeavor to prove the existence of ideologies, feelings, heroic deeds, religions, obsessions; and the rest of humanity, what are they engaged in?” He challenges Arendt views on violence where he states that the role of terror should not be disregarded or under-estimated, he continues to say that terror is not only a psychological state but also a cultural construction and a social fact whose metaphorical dimensions permit it to act as the intermediary per excellence of colonialism supremacy and domination.

The “space of death” is among the critical spaces where Indians, Africans and settlers “gave birth to the New World.” This concept shows that Taussig did not overlook violence; he partly recognized its importance. He also pointed out that “The space of death is preeminently a space of transformation: through the experience of death, life; through fear, loss of self and conformity to a new reality: or through evil, good.” His views concerning violence and terror differ depending on the cases he analyzes. This shows that Taussig supported and, at the same time, discouraged violence.

Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers is a film that also features terrorism, brutality and violence. It is one of the most influential movies in the political films’ history; it focuses on the traumatic and vexing episodes of 1957. This year was significant for Algerians because they fought for independence from France. The film was shot in Algiers streets in documentary style, intensely recreating the turbulent Algerian rebellion against French domination in the 1950s. As terrorism and violence escalated, the French tormented prisoners for information causing Algerians to resort-to violence in their search for freedom and self-rule. Children shot defense force at close range and women planted bombs in cafes (Ebert, 53). The French colonialists won the battle but, at the end, they lost in the war because Algerians demonstrated that they would no-longer be restrained. This film supports Fanon viewpoints concerning violence. It shows how Algiers fought and struggled for independence.

The film supports Fanon’s aphorism that “colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.” French people won the battle but lost the war because Algiers decided that they would not be suppressed. Fanon believed that Violence was the only way to decolonize societies and minds. The film is shot in the streets and it captures different instances of violence and how Algiers struggled to wipe out French colonizers. Children are seen shooting soldiers and women planting grenades in cafes; French people, on the other side, are seen harassing detainees for information. The film portrays great brutality but, at the end, it was worth sacrificing. The French people may have won the battle but Algiers got their independence, they won the war.

Fanon theories are supported by this film; violence was the only way-out from decolonization and colonization. Arendt reflects on violence are challenged by Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers film. The film portrays struggles for independence and even thought there are many traumatic experiences, violence triumphs because Algiers won the war. Arendt does not support violence; she describes those who use force and violence as being powerless and intimidating. The film portrays violence as the only way out of the colonization. However, the film partially supports Arendt reflections on violence; Arendt states that little violence is not effective but too much of it causes rebellion. When French people began terrorizing Algiers, they rebelled and decided to demonstrate against suppression. Violence involves physical oppression and when it lessens, victims start to rebel.


Fanon and Arendt standpoints on violence are very different. They have their different theories on resistance and revolution. Fanon supports violence, his theories shows that “No diplomacy, no political genius, no skill can cope with it except force.” He argues that violence was the only way to deal with colonization and decolonization. Settlers were very brutal with Africans and Indians and so retaliating was the best alternative. He says that “colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat.” Arendt, on the other hand, has different reflections on violence; her theories on resistance and revolution show a discrepancy. She advocates that it is, in fact, violence that diminishes the power of those who make use of it. She says that people who use violence often feel powerless; they depend on violence for their powerlessness.

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. The Great Movies III. Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 2010.Print

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Violence in war and peace. USA, Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. Print.

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"Violence and Terror Definition Comparison." IvyPanda, 28 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/violence-and-terror-definition-comparison/.

1. IvyPanda. "Violence and Terror Definition Comparison." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/violence-and-terror-definition-comparison/.


IvyPanda. "Violence and Terror Definition Comparison." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/violence-and-terror-definition-comparison/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Violence and Terror Definition Comparison." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/violence-and-terror-definition-comparison/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Violence and Terror Definition Comparison'. 28 May.

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