1.1 STATEMENT OF THE
While trying to echo Max
Weber’s definition of state, C.W Mills categorically defined politics as a
struggle for power and the ultimate form of power is violence.
This equation of power and violence
seems to corroborate the earlier postulations of the Chinese dictator Mao Tse-tung
that power grows out of barrel of gun.
The attentive consideration given to the relationship, if any between power and
violence was heightened when the existentialist philosopher J. P Sartre while
writing the preface to Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth glorified violence,
saying that it is only violence that pays.
These and many other numerous views of thinkers and analysts on the notion of
violence and its attendant relation to political power provoke some nagging questions:
Is violence necessary for the existence and maintenance of political power? Put
differently, can’t there be political power without violence?
The above questions are
timely, given the contemporary inclination of the world to wars and revolutions
in which violence is ultimately believed to be a common denominator.
Technological advancement which hitherto
was a blessing seem to be a curse by its productions of weapons of mass
destruction which according to J.B Akam, has rendered man powerless
by serving as instruments of violence directly or indirectly. This experience
of violence cuts across all spheres of the human life. However, it has the
greatest momentum in politics. Hence, the quest for political power in the
present dispensation is no longer through any other means but through violent
acts. Humanity has waved good bye to morality and enthroned to the fullest the Machiavellian
principle of the end justifies the means.
This is a real problem to tackle.
In Nigeria, it is
a fact known by experience and authenticated by history that quest for
political power through violence is prevalent. Violence has reared its head in Nigerian
politics in the garb of thuggery, riots, ethnic crisis, assassination,
kidnapping, denial of electioneering rights etc which the consequences are
usually wanton lost of lives especially that of those who are innocent. A trip
down the memory lane of Nigerian political activities reveals that politics
which is supposed to be the natural activities of man borrowing from
Aristotelian definition of man as a naturally political is no more a fair game,
instead a game of do or die what can also be known as the survival of the fittest.
It is so because in the words of Rev. Fr. J. Odey:
Leadership in Nigeria has become a huge
investment and a life insurance scheme where one has to engage in many abnormal
things to be secure in perpetuity. And no Nigerian who has tasted the trappings
of office has ever left them without fierce and often violent pressure while
those who aspire to be there spare nobody and nothing on their way
The tragic experiences of Nigerians in2003
elections are eloquent testimonies or attestation that the Nigerian political
positions are reserved for the violent and where all actors in the political
theatre are equally violent, it is safely reserved for the most violent. Those
who are in office already do everything possible to perpetuate themselves in
power, unleashing violence on the people. They are tyrannical such that anybody
who tries to challenge them with regard to the way they are ruling is in soup.
The death of such politicians like Dele Giwa, Ken Saro Wiwa, Bola Ige, Dikibo,
Barnabas Igwe and wife of Anambra state etc. will buttress this fact. With this,
one would ask, where are we heading to? What is the purpose of political power?
I should think that the
aim of political power in every government as Arendt asserts is to enable men
to live together, to promote happiness or to realize a classless society.
This meaning is no longer obtainable nowadays instead people have understood
political power as the best avenue to make money hence resorting to all forms
of violence in order to acquire it.
In this write-up, I am
going to philosophically expose this quest for political power through violence
especially in our country Nigeria
toeing the foot step of Hannah Arendt to prove that power and violence are
incompatible and that violence can destroy power but not create it.
1.2 PURPOSE OF STUDY
As hitherto mentioned
above, man is by nature a political animal. Hence politics is not restricted to
special type of people neither is it a dirty game. Instead, it is those who
indulge in it that are could be seen as dirty. Therefore, the purpose of
studying this topic titled the quest for political power through violence is to
redress the above mentioned status quo in which politics is seen as a game of
do or die. To achieve this, the youths
who are veritable tools of violence have to be re-orientated for they are
gradually imbibing this method as the best option for survival.
Again, I want to use this
write-up to appeal to the consciences of those whose hands are not yet soiled
in politics to keep it up. The fact that violence is seen as the order of the
day in Nigerian politics should not make them to join them when they cannot
1.3 SCOPE OF STUDY
In this write-up I want to
narrow the ideas of Hannah Arendt to Nigerian situation even though they were
not propounded for that. Of all the political works of Hannah Arendt, I am
going to concentrate mainly of her major work on violence. Even though I am
going to highlight her other works especially the human condition, they are
going to be in passing.
1.4 METHODOLGY OF
The method of study is
that of juxtaposition and evaluation. Juxtaposition, in the sense that Arendt’s
ideas on violence are compared with the Nigerian situation, to sieve out what
can serve as a better political worldview for Nigeria.
The work is divided into
five chapters. Chapter one is the general introduction: statement of problem,
purpose of study, methodology and scope of studies. In chapter two we are going
to examine the nature of violence in Nigeria as well as literature
review. In chapter three, we are going to examine Hannah Arendt and the quest
for political power through violence. Then in chapter four, we shall examine
the evolution of political violence in Nigeria. The above work is brought
to an end in chapter five with critical evaluation and conclusion.
 Mills, C.W., L’elite du
pouvoir, Paris, Maspero 1969, p. 171
 See H. Arendt, On Violence,
A Harvest Book, Harcourt & Brace Com. London, p. 11.
 Fanon, F, The Wretched Of The
H. Arendt, ibid., p. 3.
 Akam,J.B, Man: Unique but in
Plural, Snaap Press Ltd., 1991, p. 105.
 J. Odeh, This Madness called
Election 2003, ( Enugu,
Snaap Publ. Ltd), 2003, p.12
 Arendt, H, ibid., p.52
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While trying to echo Max Weber’s definition of state, C.W Mills categorically defined politics as a struggle for power and the ultimate form of power is violence. This equation of power and violence seems to corroborate the earlier postulations of the Chinese dictator Mao Tse-tung that power grows out of barrel of gun. The attentive consideration given to the relationship, if any between power and violence was heightened when the existentialist philosopher J. P Sartre while writing the preface to Franz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth glorified violence, saying that it is only violence that pays. These and many other numerous views of thinkers and analysts on the notion of violence and its attendant relation to political power provoke some nagging questions: Is violence necessary for the existence and maintenance of political power? Put differently, can’t there be political power without violence?.. philosophy project topics
HANNAH ARDENT ON VIOLENCE VIS-À-VIS THE QUEST FOR POLITICAL POWER THROUGH VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA