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1 May 1993

Democracy, Violence and Emancipatory Movements: Notes for a Theory of Inversionary Discourse

This paper applies "discourse" theory to violence-prone inversionary and emancipatory movements. It analyzes the generation of certain "contradictions" by the development process such as polarization between functional élites and the functionally superfluous. The author argues that the structural-development process poses political dilemmas of both a moral and political nature and addresses the question what principles have to be applied in order to remove this contradiction. Furthermore, the paper states that when violence breaks out in the marginalized discourse communities, it is difficult to bring to an end and creates its own objects. The author concludes that democracy is both an open-ended process and an institutional "solution" to any particular movement using political violence.

© 1993 United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)



David Apter