Category: Political Violence

The Peace Plan: Policy, Representation, and Security

In theory, the occurrence of terrorism in a country could be brought about by the repression of certain groups or collectives that intend go against the pressure imposed upon them. There is a sense of political motivation that pushes perpetrators of this form of violence to take certain courses of action in order to address their objective. Given that struggles and conflicts are inherently part of what makes up society, there is no doubt that the chances for terrorist action is within reach. This highlights the need for specific changes, and even contingencies, in order to uphold and establish peace in the community. This peace plan seeks to improve policy, enhance the effectivity of representation, and provide security.

Firstly, the primary goal in this peace plan is to better define the term terrorism in the country. In the work of Schmid on terrorism’s definitional problem, a person will be able to fully understand the complexity of defining the issue, and how important it is to be able to do so for effective legislation. It is presented in the article how the definition is difficult to obtain because putting in so much details causes countries to disagree what it is globally, while reducing the details will now cause the word to lose its essence. In fact, even highlighting how reducing the details can eliminate the idea of actions, strategies, methods, and perpetrators involved in terrorism. More so, culture and historical background plays a dramatic role in the process of defining because certain contexts may be different for certain nations, depending on what was placed upon them in history. For instance, there are countries, like Israel, who would see acts of violence or fighting against the state as an act of liberation from repression. Surely, the Philippines is a country that would understand such sentiment provided that the rich history of the country has involved a lot of oppression, and fighting against the people in control.

The bigger question is; how was this present in the Philippines? Most recently, the Philippines, particularly in Marawi City, experienced a skirmish and multiple assaults that involved the terroristic actions of the Maute group, which have even linked their objective with the notorious ISIS. As muslims, there were multiple confusions as to understanding the motives of the Maute; were they oppressed by religion? were they deprived of resources? were they merely acting upon the “mandate” of the ISIS? There was large confusion about the Maute’s objective, provided that even an elected senator was confused and misguided into deeming the situation as non-rebellious by alienating the idea of terrorism from rebellion. Basically, the big picture here is that there is confusion when it comes to naming these events, to the point that even elected leaders are misguided into thinking that it is one or the other, and failing to even distinguish whether what they are saying is the same. It is in these circumstances that fails our institutions to effectively tackle the issue for the simple reason that the country does not know what it is exactly approaching. With that, it is clear that the people who will be responsible in tackling this issue and objective in the peace plan is none other than our elected legislators. The legislators must be able to effectively come up with a policy or even a statement, that properly distinguishes different forms of violence, in order to other institutions (national authorities) to respond in precision based on their mandate on the identified issue. In pursuit of this objective of effectively placing a clear cut definition or terminology for the matter, it is valuable for legislators to consider the country’s rich history and culture when discussing the matter, because it can place the state in a different disposition when it comes to understanding certain actions, whether they are for the purpose of mere terror, or driven by the force of revolutionary change.

The second phase of the peace plan involves increasing the participation of different groups, the minority especially, when it comes to the creation of policy and programs in the country so as to cater to the specific needs and objectives of these people. By increasing their participation, through effective and proper representation, they will be provided with an avenue to address their concerns, interests, or takes on certain matters involving the country’s legislators. Specifically, the second phase of the peace plan will move for two sub-objectives. the first objective is to allow more party lists or groups to join the Philippine congress. It is a cause for concern on whether or not minority groups are being offered the right representation, and so more should be allowed to take part. In the country, there is currently only a percentage that allows those party-lists to be part of Congress, and so this proposes an increase of that percentage to go beyond twenty percent. The second sub-objective is for the country to create a policy, that involves creating a standard process as to how party or group representatives are elected. It so happens that certain representatives may not be as effective as others who might understand the group’s sentiments more over the existing representative. These two sub-objectives will pave the way for our countrymen, especially those part of minority groups, to be able to have a voice in the country’s policy-making process.

Another question to be concerned about is how exactly is this issue manifested in the country? Just recently, CNN Philippines released an information graphic that reports the top 10 wealthiest member of the country’s House of Representatives based on their 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). Based on these documents, it reports that the top 2 richest in the House are found in Michael Romero (1-PACMAN) and Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (DIWA). The two are coming from the said party-lists. Ironically, these party-lists that are represented in congress only take a percentage of the sitting congressmen. Beyond that, it is the representatives who sit down as ‘elected’ congressmen. Now, the party-list system in the Philippines is initially to pave the way for representation of those who are marginalized, as mentioned. However, it is very ironic to fathom that the party-list, which are supposedly for the marginalized and under (or not even) represented, are represented by an elite. This reveals the cause for concern that there may be under representation occurring in our existing system. More so, there may be a flaw in the actual system in which these representatives are agreed upon to stand for the party-list or collective. And, beyond this, there is even a limit to the number of party-lists elected which means that there are those collectives that are not brought ‘into the fold’ for policy-making process.

From the points given on this second phase, it is comprehensible that it is an issue that will be addressed, once again, by the country’s legislators. The legislators must create a policy that will, firstly, pave the way for more party-lists to be considered and qualified to take part in the policy making process. And, second, a policy that will mandate party-lists in the country to elect leaders based on specific standards that will actually allow them to serve as the epitome of the organization or collective. The heart of this phase in the peace plan is to be able to allow more minority groups or different collectives to be given the avenue to voice out concerns, initiate dialogue, and make a stand in the country’s legislature. This, specifically, solves a part of the issue of under representation or misrepresentation recurring in our country’s lower house.

The third phase of the peace plan concerns highly of the lapses and flaws that exist within the country’s law enforcement agencies. This part of the peace plan has the objective of improving those lapses, in order to pave the way for better intelligence operatives that would prevent uprisings that will cause the destruction of properties and the killing of innocent civilians. This issue is manifested in the country with the multiple cases of failed intelligences. For example, most recently, in the Marawi incident, the country’s operatives failed to intercept any information that would have prevented the entry of armed men. In fact, Abu Sayyaf Isnilon Hapilon, who was being actively hunted down by the country’s national police, was still even able to participate in the Marawi skirmish. Supposedly, provided that he was under a lot of heat with the national authorities, he wouldn’t have been able to initiate any operations for himself. Ironically, he was still able to do so in successfully participating in Marawi with the Maute group. It’s a clear cut case of failed operatives, and transfer of intelligence information that could have prevented a big disaster that destroyed a large portion in Mindanao.

This phase of the peace plan pushes the country’s administration to grant ample budget for different law enforcement agencies to afford better training, higher officer education, and purchase of equipment and gear. Less on the part of granting a budget, this peace plan also puts pressure on bureaucrats to make sure that the different agencies are able to efficiently use the available financial resources. The issue on being able to prepare for these kinds of events, and these type of people in the country, entails the improvement of the national authorities’ capacities. And in this objective of improving, intelligence operatives is a significant factor to consider which can be answered if our country’s authorities receive the proper paraphernalia.

As a whole, the three major phases in discussed in this peace plan covers different aspects that concern the effectivity of the state and its institutions when tackling the potentiality of terrorism in the Philippines. Firstly, there must be effective approach as to identifying its occurrence, hence the need for specific measure and conventions that will tackle the process of defining terrorism effectively in the Philippines. Furthermore, to increase the capacity to avoid the issue, more groups, especially minority, must be given priority to partake in the policy making process. Marginalized and concerned groups of individuals must be a given an avenue to be able to penetrate the legislation system, in order to avoid rebellion against the country in the form of terrorism. Lastly, despite all efforts to increase better enforcement of laws, there must always be an increased capacity in security. The goal of this sub-phase is to be able to increase the intelligence capacities of the country’s authoritative agencies in order to be efficient and effective when preventing the occurrence of tragedies in the country. Altogether, the proposed peace plan takes course on multiple aspects that cover policy, representation, and national security; all of which that have strong relation with the occurrence of terrorism in the Philippines.

Film Commentary 09: The History of ISIS – Struggle for the Soul of Islam

The history of the ISIS, particularly in the area of forces in which it derives its strength, exhibits a lot of the concepts on depersonalization, social cohesion, and conformity. All of which are discussed as primary effects of the psychosocial theory that explains terrorism. In the history of ISIS, Sunni communities in both the areas of Iraq and Syria experienced a sense of alienation by the branch of Islam adhering to Shia, the Shiite. In light of the situation, the ISIS was successful in mobilizing these disposition of feelings, in order to paint them as victims. Furthermore, from the sense of victimhood, they were influenced with the feeling of finding solace and control in different forms of violence. More so, by being able to manipulate the interpretation of Islamic beliefs, the ISIS was successful in paving the way for empowering the disenfranchised youth as human “weapons” in their “artillery”.

This particular factor of disenfranchisement pushed the strength of the ISIS through social cohesion. In social cohesion, the collective identity shared by members of a terrorist organization creates a strong positive relationship among the members. Hence, establishing cohesion and cooperation amongst the terrorist group members. Extracting from the disenfranchisement of people, the people, especially the youth, were mobilized through the narrative of being victims. By instilling the feeling that they were victims, they sought “refuge”, meaning, and purpose in the ISIS, through a twisted understanding of Islam. But, nevertheless, bringing them that source for camaraderie, and unity in the group. Hence, allowing them to achieve social cohesion through a positive outlook that what they were doing was right for their belief, and for their group.

Now, depersonalization can be primarily perceived as to how these individuals who seek “refuge” and meaning in ISIS detach themselves from their personal life, and abides in total with the organization’s personal interests and goals. Through the acceptance of the twisted Islam ideas, as well as the contribution of disenfranchised youth joining the infamous organization, there is great reduction to disobedience and challenge, since all of these joiners seek some sort of “peace” in their participation in the ISIS. Hence, establishing a strong form of conformity amongst all of its members.

Interestingly, I believe that the ideas surrounding social cohesion and depersonalization in the ISIS movement is something that highlights how the group is able to mobilize, not just collective rebellion through terrorism, but also individual rebellion. Firstly, it is important to never forget that a big motive and inspiration for people to join the ISIS group is to actually find a sense of meaning and empowerment by being part of it. It is perceived as a group that does ‘what should be’. Hence, inviting and motivating a lot of individuals to fulfill this sense of purpose and need in life through the hold of certain “Islamic beliefs”. Now, through this, the ISIS is perceived by some to be a group that is oppressed  by the normal order power all over the globe. Thus, some individuals are motivated to show support of the ISIS by acting in terror. For instance, the ISIS has been successful in subjecting different forms of terror beyond their own territory. This is because they have inspired some sort of “lone wolf” members or sympathizers of the ISIS. Specifically, for example, in the month of October 2015, a bomb was detonated in a Russian airline, killing everybody on board. Another example would be the various suicide attacks in Paris that have reports of killing 129 civilians. One can see that these lone wolf actors are interestingly inspired and motivated by the sense of cohesion found in the ISIS. Thus, this opens up new ideas for discussion given that social cohesion is not actually just rooted on membership of a terrorist group, but maybe on just the mere feeling of “sympathizing” or “understanding” a group.

Film Commentary 08: ISIS – Behind The Mask

The bravado behind the mask is not a person. but rather, an ideology which has a strong influence to the perception of goodness and meaning in life. In the documentary entitle Behind The Mask, it was clearly exhibited how an individual’s ideological space is powerful beyond measure as this brings a strong dictation as to how one should live life. An ideology has one of the greatest capabilities to reengineer society and changes people’s lives as it brings about a “set of rules” in which people submerge themselves in, transforming their overall everyday lifestyle. As people act upon this ideology, their actions become higher forms of manifestations of the ideology’s principles. Particularly, it is religious ideologies that can be identified to manifest such results, given that it has a strong capacity to bring meaning and purpose to an individual’s life. In a Muslim sense, the Islam ideology is said to be very promising as the people abide by the principles of the Islamic Caliphate. With the aid of preachers, a lot of radical individuals are transformed, bringing them into the fold, and acting as one under a particular belief and way of life. This is the life changing climax of Michael Delefortrie, now known as Younnes.

In Delefortrie’s journey out of the Christian faith, and into the Islam religion, his story manifests how a terrorist group has the ability to psychosocially influence people. Hence, bringing a larger and different understanding in being part of them, beyond a group or a collective that merely produces chaos. Delefortrie was once an ordinary kid from Belgium, walking up and down the streets like the everyday person. He had a troubled set of teenage years, even exploring a variety of drugs and alcohol as he simultaneously declined in performing in the academic institution. As a Christian, he found the ordinary life of one, preaching the Lord on Sundays, and acting based on the religion’s morals. As he ventured into the Islamic world, and later training with the ISIS, he found meaning and greater purpose in life, even finding his transformation to be an upgrade in the way of life. Now, as an ISIS convert, Delefortrie finds himself as a holy warrior, battling in favor of the Caliphate, and utilizing violence in order to bring terror against the non-Muslim communities.

In light of these ideas, the forms of social cohesion and conformity to an ideology is evident. As ISIS converts, people like Delefortrie find meaning in their lives as they believe that they are fighting for what is good, being holy warriors that serve to protect their religion. In fact, attacks are even made against non-Muslim communities. In this sense, the ISIS converts of radical youth members have found a positive relationship in each other as they are tied to the common belief system that they must fight for the islam caliphate. This strong bond that is tied and connected by a religious ideology established a strong and positive network amongst ISIS members. The idea of conformity stems out from this occurrence, given that they are now all acting upon the decisions of the terrorist organization. As a terrorist organization, they have provided a clear identity for the ISIS, establishing norms that involve fighting and causing chaos. Hence, instilling this “way of life” amongst its members, transforming it to the new norm for them.

In the documentary, Delefortrie is found to idolize Osama Bin Laden, and is very unapologetic about his honor to the master mind of the 9/11 attacks, in which 2,977 people were killed. More so, Delefortrie sheds light on his conversion as he once fell under the spell of Svengali’s golden tongue. In this event of Delefortrie’s life, and how he entered the ISIS’ fold, there is evidence to, somewhat, debunk the general ideas presented in Zoolander’s theory. In this theory, “the idea that terrorists are brainwashed ostensibly serves as an objective and value-free causal explanation: X became a terrorist because of Y’s bad influence”. In addition,  it is presumed that the person is unconscious of what is happening as he/she is influenced. However, in this case, Delefortrie was very much aware of his fascination with Osama Bin Laden. He had already expressed values and insights of inclining to the terrorist groups ways. In this case, it was not all of Y’s influence that brought Delefortrie into the fold. But, rather, it was a combination of how personal disposition, affected by a certain pressure of influence, made it all possible for X, in this case, Delefortrie, to take a role in the ISIS.

Film Commentary 07: Daniel Goldhagen’s ‘Worse Than War’

The documentary entitled Worse Than War by Daniel Goldhagen features various historical disasters, as well as personal accounts from people who took part. It provides an in depth analysis of these events in history by being able to exhibit and hear primary accounts of people who were either victims or perpetrators in the said event. Now, aside from the Goldhagen’s complex and in depth account of the different occurrences in history, it provides the viewers with a striking take on the idea of genocides. Genocides, as commonly discussed, is a term used to describe the mass murder of a particular race, religious group, and the like. Basically, it is a term used to refer to the course of action that involves taking out a particular group of people in the population. From this, Goldhagen has a taken on how genocide would be better referred to as eliminationism as it also means the extermination, repression, and destruction of a group’s identity by preventing them to reproduce.

In the documentary, the grisly acts featured involved the events that occurred in Darfur, Germany, Iraq, Kenya, Rwanda. What is interestingly featured in the film is the question as to how these ordinary people have been strongly persuaded and influenced to kill, murder, and destroy their own neighbors? The answer that can be extracted from Goldhagen’s insights is, none other than, politics. He strongly believes that this is all a political act. Mass murder is a political act that, as Goldhagen notes, can always be stopped by the decisions of people above. In other words, he believes that this is way beyond the ideas on bloodlust because these were the fruits of the labor of powerful people in meetings that decided on orders. He believes that this could all have been stopped. These ideas and explanations by Goldhagen reveals how the state is a powerful factor that could bring halt to these disasters in history. More so, it highlights how repression, that could lead to genocides, are a result of the absence of action, rather than actual choices made. While it does not fit the ideas of what it is to be “state sponsored”, it appears as if it were a result of the state’s decisions or lack of initiative to take action on the different matters.

On the other hand, Goldhagen also recognizes from his observation that it is the absence of fully understanding the causes perpetrators to kill. It is explained how this is a result of politicians being able to mobilize the people to kill, to make it appear how they are prejudiced. Thus, bringing some kind of enjoyment and fulfillment when conducting mass murder. It is in these explanations and ideas of Goldhagen where Stone’s (2004) ideas of people feeling “ecstasy” can be perceived. The people feel great by doing these acts or horror, and as Stone explains; this is because of the feeling of belonging that is even more intensified through the murderous acts.

Goldhagen’s account on understanding the historical tragedies was also grounded on the importance of words, euphemism, in order to prevent or change the order of things. He intends to condemn the ideas on how these tragedies are all “the final solution” or a form of “ethnic cleansing” because it brings out inauthentic positivity out of it. In other words, Goldhagen is affirming the ideas of Bauman (1989) and Hamburg (2008) that people think of these as the modern medicine and a form of “wonderful utopia”, respectively. He agrees to these concepts and believes that these are the reasons used by people that is why he is condemning the “word choice” or established euphemisms because it creates that sense that these are good. Goldhagen finds the confusion and absence of incomprehension that can be found within the people perpetuating killings because of how they are blinded by the concepts Bauman and Hamburg identified. While Goldhagen has an open mind to be able to understand that the people were acting because that’s what they thought of to be good, he is highlighting the fact that euphemism is a significant factor because it contributes to how those people’s minds processed their motives and reasonings.

Film Commentary 06: Kinyarwanda

The film “Kinyarwanda” provides its viewers with a unique manifestation of the Rwandan Genocide in April 1994. In this historical terror, the Hutus began the slaughtering of the Tutsis in Rwanda, as the world stood by, leaving a rough estimate of 800,000 Hutus and Tutsis murdered. In Rwandan history, the Tutsi and the Hutu share a common past. Soon after, there became a distinction where Tutsi are those who owned cattle, and the rest were the Hutus. Once the Europeans came, it was in the colonization where more distinction came between the Tutsi and the Hutu since the germans perceived the Tutsi to have more European characteristics. Hence, giving them higher roles in society. This distinction intensified more when Belgians took control, giving the Tutsis the leadership roles. When struggle broke in Belgium, roles between the Hutus and the Tutsis switched with the Belgians granting the former the control of the administration. Now, this upsets the Tutsis in turn. From this rough history of role changes and class distinction, there is a clear cut case of progressing conflict between the two groups of Rwandan people.

The spark of the actual genocide exhibits the concept of political repression that occurred between the Tutsis and the Hutus, given that both were in an environment of struggle, with each one trying to be the one in control. It can be seen how both were, for political reasons, acting on the purpose of restricting or preventing the other’s ability to take part in the political life of the society. As one can recall, initially the Tutsis were given the higher roles, and later on the Hutus were given the position to control. Now, in history, the Hutu president Habyarimana had total control of Rwandan, excluding all Tutsis. But, in 1993, with the Arusha Accords, Tutsis were able to claim and take part in the government, as well. This sparked anger on the part of Hutu extremists. When the president died in an assassination through a plane crash, Hutu extremists took control of the government, and set the norm that it was the Tutsis fault in which the president had been killed. Hence, establishing the order for the slaughter of Tutsis. In this case, given that it was the Hutu extremists taking control of the government, it was a state sponsored political repression against the Tutsis. The Hutus wanted that Tutsis would no way touch the government, or get in any close contact in their class warfare. As a result, their solution was to take them out all of position, and even order the killings. Basically, it was as if the new norm was that if you were a Tutsi, you don’t just get to be isolated from participating in society, you are ordered to be eliminated. Not only that, Tutsis, on their part, also had stints of yearning to oppress the Hutus. When they were in position, and suddenly they were taken out when the Belgians switched the roles in society, it can be perceived in history how the Tutsis were angered by the fact that Hutus now controlled the government.

Relating to these ideas is also the concept of enlightenment, and how it leads to genocide. Horkheimer and Adorno (1973) argued how enlightenment in the form of emancipation and rationality can result in men yearning for control, and as a result, also want to control people, as well. In the history of the feud between the Tutsis and the Hutus, it can be seen how each one was enlightened of the roles inflicted by the European colonizers. On a rational note, this showed how one was compromised and was placed in a disposition lower and more vulnerable than the other. In other words, there were those above and there were those below. By being enlightened and taking a rational stand, the one in the lower bracket was angered, and created feud against those above. With the switching of roles in society in the year 1993, the rationality of both the Tutsis and the Hutus brought in the flames that intensified the power struggle between the two. The death of the president was just an opportunity which brought leverage for the Hutu extremists to gain control of government, and of course its resources, in order to initiate that state-sponsored killings against the Tutsis. A very important phase that could be highlighted from the film is how even religion was not an exemption to change the minds of those initiating killings. In the film, the catholic priest, taken on a role by Mazimpaka Kennedy, was shown to even lead the Hutu soldiers to slaughter the people. He orchestrated the opportunity to kill. It is in this case that shows how Bauman’s (1989) concept of the modern medicine to cure society is seen, that even a priest, a catholic one, is not exempted from the idea that the way to cleanse society is through the elimination of Hutus. As a whole, it appears to be a creative disaster how even the norm of the “dirtiness” of an identified “cockroach” of society surpasses the concepts of religion. The norm was seen to be a lot stronger that even members of the catholic church had set aside what the religion upholds in order to comply or coincide with the established struggle in society. For the priest, Bauman’s modern medicine appeared in the form of Hutus “cleansing” the society through their mass murder operations, rather than Christianity’s predetermined values and morals.

Moving away from the concepts of violence, the story’s exhibition of a love story between a young Tutsi lady, and a Hutu man, illustrates the other side of the established norms in Rwanda. I believe that there was a need for this aspect of the story line in the film documentary to be present, so as to show how the existing conflict and feud between Hutus and Tutsis was grounded on the issue on power and repression, rather than mere feeling of emotional anger. It shows how love goes beyond the situation of class struggles, as their love existed despite the occurrence of the Rwandan genocide.

Film Commentary 05: Afghanistan – The Great Game

The Great Game was a manifestation of the rivalry and contestation of control between the large empires of the British and the Russian. This all began in the 19th century, continuing for 7 years, where Britain pushed to control much of Asia in order to buffer British India. Of course, Russia sought to expand territory and expand its empire. When Britain gained solid hold of India, Russia took over central asian khanates in the southern borders. Basically, the big picture is that the two empires front lines find its way to meet through Afghanistan.

Von Clausewitz rational theory on war is very evident as to how the superpower empires perceived the situation in their battle for control and leverage over each other. Britain sought to make sure of its hold on India, while Russia sought to make sure of its trade opportunities. Both were acting based on a rational behavior. The theory holds war to be taken based on the most vital interests of the states. And this idea can clearly be seen with regard to the dispositions of both Russia and Britain on the matter. British Lord Ellenborough initiated this game on January 1830 by establishing a trade route that hindered Russian operations. In this new trade route,Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan would be used to get to and from India and Bukhara. However, on a side note, this was to plot how russia will be prevented and hindered from accessing ports on the Persian gulf. Hence, jeopardizing the other empire’s personal interests as a nation. On Russia’s end, they simply wanted to establish a neutral zone so that their trade routes will not be placed in a threatened position.

Britain’s rational stance on the matter resulted in a very unfavorable manner for their empire given their consecutive losses against the Russians. The wars resulted were very unsuccessful for Britain to be able to fully control Afghanistan, Bukhara, and Turkey. The Anglo-Saxon War, the First Anglo-Sikh War, the Second Anglo-Sikh War, and Anglo-Afghan War all resulted in favor of Russia which allowed its empire to take hold of Khanates. Nevertheless, despite Britain’s clear and embarrassing loss to obtain Afghanistan, the nation still served as a separation for Russia not to be able to take hold of India.

Overall, the great game is a perfect manifestation of nationalism in the theories of war. Multiple theories argue that wars result because of men’s allegiance to the nation which forms an intimate and deep connection. The theory shows how nationalism is a form of ideology that pushes the nation to be connected to the state, and for the country to act in a way that would favor its interests and advantageous goals. Hence, recognizing the concept of “national self determination” that links that nation and the state. In the great game, the empires involved were acting in ways that would prevent jeopardizing or putting their nations and its operations/interests in a position that would be very compromising. They were in pursuit of certain areas that would prevent others from undermining their ground of control. On a another note, Russians would also yearn for neutral zones so that their trade matters won’t be affected. As a whole, the wars that emerged between both empires were motivated and inspired by their rational goals in order to place themselves in a position in which their predetermined plans, courses of actions, and long term goals are not compromised.

Film Commentary 04: Septembers of Shiraz

The film Septembers of Shiraz exhibits a story that revolves around the events after the 1979 Iranian revolution. This means that the events portrayed in the film were the results of the successful overthrow of the west-inclined leadership of the said country. Historical events that involve struggle with regard to the control of the government shows how the actors are in a power conflict. With that, this struggle will most definitely result to one with which there is a victor. Aside from this manifestation in the film, it is also successful in being able to show different angles of the society after the overthrow of the western leadership of Iran. Specifically, both aspects of the, somewhat, wealthy, and the poor were shown. By being able to reveal the situation, the feelings, and the disposition of the poor, there is a better way to understand how there was truly disappointment in the government, leading to such uprisings in history.

The general ideas that grounded the film’s plot was the overthrow of an existing government. In past discussion, overthrowing a government, whether it would involve the military or members of the state (in the form of a coup), the underlying causes were highly rooted upon social backwardness, and the very frustrations of the people. Relating these to the idea of the relative deprivation theory, Gurr refers to “individuals’ perceptions of the discrepancy between the standard of living that they believe deserving and the standard of living they are actually capable of achieving”. With these ideas, it is clear to illustrate how people of Iran were in discontent of the situation of living under a pro-west leadership. There is that sense of feeling that the standard way of living, that they could possible achieve, is one that is not under the said leadership. From these general insights discussed, there is a clear manifestation why the poor are of value when it comes to understanding the overthrow of the western-inclined leadership that only brought discontent amongst society members.

Furthermore, in the film, there was a unique manifestation of how the rich meets the poor with regard to how the employee named Morteza explains to Isaac’s wife the sentiments of the poor on why they were taking their course of action. In this phase of the film, there was frustration on the part of Isaac’s family, particularly his wife, because she couldn’t fathom the idea that the people were doing her husband’s business wrong; stealing from them, and taking away the precious equipment, when, in reality, her husband had offered them more, beyond just remuneration. It is said that the husband had also offered compensation to support education. However, explaining against this, the employee serves as the voice of the poorer or less wealthy individuals in society by reiterating that the poor were tired of the situation as to how it was the wealthy who were successful in taking advantage of the country’s wealth, while they (the poor) were left in a terrible position. It is in these narrative in the film where Skocpol’s ideas in social revolution were, somewhat, manifested. As one can recall, Skocpol’s arguments revolved around ideas on class-based revolts for the intention of transforming or reengineering the class structure. With that, the ideas are exhibited by how the poor were acting upon the situation of feeling left out in society when it is the rich benefitting from the state’s wealth.

Film Commentary 03: A.D. Kingdom and Empire

People of the world have long been influenced by multiple religious ideologies. In history, it can be seen how people see utmost beauty and perfection when it comes to perceiving the different great religions of the world. With this view, society has placed religion, as well as its formed institutions and collectives, as divine and unmatchable. It is perceived as a source of endless love and peace. Basically, with religion, people are able to hold upon a sense of hope and perfection that can be found in the world. However, this perception on religion is destroyed and defied with the manifestations of the series “A.D. Kingdom and Empire”, provided that it traces the roots of Christianity’s beginning, highlighting the aspects when it was bloody.

While it is clear in Christian history that Christ was a victim of violent acts, and with this story serving as a symbolic part of his rise, it is also important to note that, on the part of His disciples, there were clear instances of how bloody it was when Christianity was beginning. This can be highlighted in the story of Saul, a jewish of Tarsus. Saul was well-known for being an avid hater of Christ’s teaching, as well as his followers. He believed the teachings of Jesus violated Mosaic Law, and jailed anyone who followed those teachings. In fact, there was even a part in his story, before he is converted, where he just stands by and watches his fellow jews stone St. Stephen because of his preachings.

Now, the story on the Damascus road highlights how Saul fell when a shattering bright light from the heavens came upon him. Subsequently, Jesus’ voice questioned on why he is persecuting, and is eventually invited into the fold. Basically, it served as Saul’s calling. From that, he is converted, and now is referred to as Paul. This confuses a lot of people because he was an avid hater, and now he is rooted on serving and spreading the Gospel.

I believe that the two narratives that are being attacked here is how people despised the religion that was being propagated, and how those people (particularly, Saul), was the one called upon to continue propagating the religion. Firstly, it was violent enough to identify how the people despised being pressured to accept a different form of teaching. As said, it was perceived to be against Mosaic law. This circumstance or case is, somewhat, a manifestation of repression, but in the form of what should be believed in. In other words, the people felt threatened with this new form of religion, and the response was actually to even stone the preacher.

On the other hand, Saul’s calling is an ironic phase in history, because the very person who cause the distress and killing of many followers of Christ was killed by this new converted preacher. In a general perspective, it appears that the spread of Christianity, which was a result of the preaching of those called upon by Christ, originated first from people who killed those who were already followers. The conversion, which led to preaching, was grounded upon killing first, and that’s why it appears that Saul was brought into the fold. As a whole, the way the television shows portrays the history of Christianity’s roots is to reveal how it was not all beautiful, filled with sunshine and rainbows. It was not a religion that immediately stemmed out the love and happiness from the people. But, rather, it was one that even instigated politics and contestation, causing the death of many of its initial followers. The masterpiece found in A.D. Kingdom and Empire is an eye-opener to the reality of politics, especially violence, that exists in one of the most influential religious views in the world today.

Film Commentary 02: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a television series that takes its setting in the Medieval ages, amidst the battles and power struggles of the different houses. From the television show’s title, there is already a clear distinction how it is a manifestation of conflict amongst the powerful. Provided that it takes place in the aforementioned time period, the methods presented in this series happen to be barbaric in the form of killings, and even sexual assaults. The show reveals a reality in the medieval ages as to how noble families strive to pursue power and resources, that result into bloodbaths. The show reveals how these noble families have taken a rational disposition on things, aiming to achieve domination over the other, or as the show highlights, the throne.

The beauty in understanding political violence, with Game of Thrones as a reference, is that the area of social culture and norms were taken into account to understand the different manifestations in the series. For example, as one can clearly recall from the show, it is grounded on brutal killings to the point that these appear to be normal occurrences in the show. These killings were brought about by personal interests, as different people, and or noble groups, were motivated by their personal objective. Hence, a clear exhibition of realism in the medieval ages. Another example in which this can be found is the instances of betrayal in the series (i.e. Baelish betraying Ned). In the series, there is also a sense of repression that occurs with the objective of incest amongst families. It was clearly portrayed in the series that the objective of such doings was to avoid impurity, and to ensure that power remains among a certain family. Thus, revealing to the audience that incest or rape was even for the purpose of repression and hold of power, rather than mere pleasure.

From these ideas, there is a surfaced complexity when it comes to understanding Game of Thrones. It is not a show that is intended to just pleasure those who love violence, or those who are interested to witness brutality in the medieval ages. Game of Thrones is an exhibition of how the different forms of political violence have gone beyond actions that only occur one-time, or a few times. The show reveals how political violence can grow deeply into the societal norms. Hence, explaining why it has become normal in the series’ plot to have bloodbaths in brutal killings, and rape whether to assert supremacy or to repress others from joining a noble bloodline.

Film Commentary 01: Narcos

On a general context, the series of Narcos exhibits how a powerful individual in society has complexly managed to operate a criminally inclined business, and escape multiple attempts by the authorities to capture him. In order to establish a firm ground in this game against the government, this individual succeeds in building his power and control through the instillment of fear in society in the form of killings and abductions. This “creative” approach allows him to gain leverage in this game of power against the government, provided that the latter is placed in a difficult position, succumbing to the former’s demands. In the government’s strong pursuit of bringing this individual under control, they are left with no other option but to accept the offer of imprisoning the latter in his own private “prison”, guarded by his personal security. Hence, allowing him to live in paradise, and to continue his business. This is the story of notorious drug cartel controller, Pablo Escobar.

The story that is portrayed in this television series provides its viewers with a great stint of understanding the institutional and individual concepts in violence. Recalling from previous discussions, the institutional explanation to violence highlights how the state, and its economic and social systems, all contribute into the phenomenon’s existence. As one may extract from the series itself, the resulting acts of politically motivated violence is a result of the altercation between an infamous drug cartel business, and the state authorities. Clearly, it is the mandated functions of specific state institutions to apprehend any illegal businesses, particularly those of related to drugs. On the other hand, people, like Escobar, are inherently part of society’s structure. Hence, revealing how the institution’s overall structure and organization creates violence opportunities between member’s of society and state authorities.

Furthermore, a strong contributing factor to the political violence exerted by the infamous drug cartel’s owner is his personal desire to continue his money making business. The individual concept of violence explains it through the understanding of the motivational factors of an individual, pushing him/her to engage in political violence. As shown in the famous series, Escobar’s individual desires are of great contribution, as to how all of the acts of terror were perpetuated. He was highly concerned about his business flourishing, and how he can establish control by going against the Colombian government. Hence, resulting to terror in form of murders and abductions. In other words, his course of action to engage in political violence was motivated by rational factors; continue his business, and escape the potential circumstance of being jailed by the state in their own prison cell.

Overall, the portrayal of Escobar’s chronicles in the plot of Narcos significantly reveals the presence of the Psychosocial Theory on Terrorism. In this theory, basically, terrorism is not seen as a “syndrome”, but rather, it is considered as a mechanism to politically and socially influence; trigger change. More so, it also highlights how terrorists are a result of social interaction. With these ideas at hand, the psychosocial theory, somewhat, dictates or illustrates the very elements that contribute to the story of Narcos. As one can observe, Escobar’s actions and pursuits of different forms of terror are all grounded on the motive of clearly sending a message to the government (influence the state) of his power. In fact, the resulting acts of terrorism shown in the series are a direct result of the social interaction between an infamous drug cartel owner with the state. In turn, the psychosocial theory illuminates the details of Escobar’s selected courses of action as a high profile drug dealer, and how it manifests multiple forms of terrorism, inspired by the motive to politically and socially engineer change.