chapter  1
19 Pages

Violent and Nonviolent Trajectories in Contentious Politics

During the first half of the twentieth century, massive interstate wars produced most of the world's political deaths, although deliberate efforts of state authorities to eliminate, displace, or control subordinate populations also accounted for significant numbers of fatalities. l During the century's second half, civil war, guerrilla, separatist struggles, domestic political repression, and conflicts between ethnically or religiously divided populations increasingly dominated the landscape of bloodletting.2 As the century waned, however, some mixed signs of leveling off in the scale of human-to-human political violence appeared. As inhabitants of the twenty-first century, we face the challenge of reversing the long trend-not of eliminating conflict, but of substituting nonlethal for lethal ways of pursuing politics. Russians and Americans simply face different versions of the same fundamental challenge, with a wider range of violent ethnic conflict in and around today's Russia, but acute manifestations of small-scale violence in today's United States.