Understanding the use of violence in political struggle

The term violence and its use as a strategy and tactic in political struggles is gaining popularity, particularly in the recent discourse over the Fees Must fall campaigns.

Eusebius McKaiser questions whether the term has become too broad in its use.

Senior researcher at Rhodes University and author of ‘Writing the Decline’, Dr Richard Pithouse talks to McKaiser about understanding the use of violence in political struggle.

Pithouse takes an insightful look at Frantz Fanon writer whose works are influential in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory.

Many students in South Africa draw on his writings in the current context of struggle around de-colonising education.

He explains that while there isn’t a single definition of violence, broader meanings run the risk of masking forms of behavior that are dangerous.

Questions of definitions are often acutely contested.

Richard Pithouse, Senior researcher at Rhodes University and author

There is something to be lost by having a conception of violence that is too elastic. But there can be some value in looking for instance at how social structures are oppressive in ways that have real material consequences even on people’s bodies.

Richard Pithouse, Senior researcher at Rhodes University and author

Violence as physical force directed against a human body, that is uncontroversial. Everything else is essentially a kind of metaphor.

Richard Pithouse, Senior researcher at Rhodes University and author

Metaphor is kind of slippery because a new metaphor can be really powerful but then it can collapse into cliché and it can be deadening to our language and our understanding.

Richard Pithouse, Senior researcher at Rhodes University and author

Listen to Richard Pithouse's providing an insightful analysis of the work of revolutionary writer Frantz Fanon and the use of violence in struggle:


This article first appeared on 702 : Understanding the use of violence in political struggle


CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Talking Sex with Dr Eve: Bullied as a child, sexually dysfunctional as an adult?

Talking Sex with Dr Eve: Bullied as a child, sexually dysfunctional as an adult?

Eusebius McKaiser and resident sexologist Dr Eve speak about how being bullied as a child could affect your adult sexual life.

ANC stalwarts to host independent consultative conference

ANC stalwarts to host independent consultative conference

Karima Browns says the ANC has responded to the stalwarts' gathering stating it is not a sanctioned party event.

Naked Scientist: Discovery of an earth-sized planet called Ross-128b

Naked Scientist: Discovery of an earth-sized planet called Ross-128b

Chris Smith joins the Eusebius McKaiser Show every Friday to answer questions on science or just about anything else.

Listeners read passages from their favourite books, essays and poems

Listeners read passages from their favourite books, essays and poems

Callers show appreciation for the written word by reading excerpts on air during the Literature Corner with Eusebius McKaiser.

Mpofu-Walsh: Heher Commission model on fees is dangerous and ill-conceived

Mpofu-Walsh: Heher Commission model on fees is dangerous and ill-conceived

Those behind this model know very well that it is going to explode in our faces two decades down the line, says Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh.

SA funnyman Loyiso Gola talks new gig and taking on the global comedy scene

SA funnyman Loyiso Gola talks new gig and taking on the global comedy scene

The comedian self-examines some of the shady social norms he's learned while growing up in his new stand-up show, Unlearning.

Popular articles
Is taking items from the hotel room stealing?

Is taking items from the hotel room stealing?

Tsogo Sun Cape regional manager explains which items are free to be taken home by guests and why.

Why SA lost the Rugby World Cup bid: 'It is all about the money'

Why SA lost the Rugby World Cup bid: 'It is all about the money'

Stephen Grootes spoke to rugby writer and commentator Andy Capostagno.

Soldiers detain Robert Mugabe

Soldiers detain Robert Mugabe

Grace Mugabe may have fled to Namibia. Bruce Whitfield interviews political commentator Rashweat Mukundu.

I think we are going to witness a coup d'état in slow motion - Zim journalist

I think we are going to witness a coup d'état in slow motion - Zim journalist

According to reports in Zimbabwe, the military has taken over and has been making public announcement since Tuesday night.

WATCH: Innovative spray limits toilet flushes and saves water

WATCH: Innovative spray limits toilet flushes and saves water

Loo Me is a simple yet effective scented foam that takes the yuck out of "mellowing" toilets preventing multiple flushes.