Violence is a physical and spiritual offence. It is a mortification of the dignity of the individual. Violence is a tyrannical approach and a tyrannical state of mind. It expresses hegemonic intentions and hegemonic presuppositions.
Violence is not necessarily evident. It may have many hidden roots. Indeed, it is about causes that even the violent does not perceive as such. Humans live and exist throughout a spiritual between rationality and irrationality. This leads to the consequential tension between duties and rights. Therefore, no one is immune from violence. It may be something even unexpected or banal in the way it may insinuate itself into people’s souls. Self- monitoring is necessary to not revert to an instinctual behaviour.
Violence destroys all the premises for unity. It happens especially in case violence joins and intersects with extremist ideology. It is then violent extremism, referring to the idea of spreading an ideology through violent assumptions. Ideology can be religious or political; they are not mutually exclusive, though. It is very likely that violent extremism combines them together. Religion becomes a political pretext and politics become a religious pretext.
Actual forms of violence are the exemplification of what Zygmunt Bauman would define as “a lack of ethical and moral compass in our liquid modern times”. Actually, individualism has replaced social consciousness and identity is more what we are excluded from rather than what we freely decide to be. To this regard, Islamophobia is a subtle form of violence. It affects the most private and spiritual sphere of the identity. It can be publically manifested or unconsciously hidden. It is non-recognition of a belief and, consequently, non-recognition of the believer. Similarly, prejudices are a further example of violence because they are preconceptions of people and situations. They do contribute to spreading categories, divisions and conditions of isolation all around the world. In this sense, Islamophobia is definitely a branch of prejudices. Similarly, terrorism is the most explicit form of international violence nowadays. It brings physical violence to evidence and it exploits media to stage terror as a form of spectacle, and therefore the question would be; Is media taking advantage of terrorism or, conversely, is terrorism taking advantage of media for advertisement purposes?
Islamophobia, prejudices and terrorism are absolutely an illogical perception of the world and of its inhabitants. However, these illogical conceptions can be easily naturalised as collective behaviours in the way culture and social institutions may embody them. Therefore, there is not just direct violence. Violence can be structural and cultural as well.
Both cultural and structural violence are endemic. Indeed, they do not imply just domination, but a condition of social consent as well. Furthermore, cultures and social institutions spread other directed narrations about reality by instilling cognitive orders. They spread mental categories that become the dominant ones. Pierre Bourdieu would talk about “symbolic violence” to refer to ways of thinking and of behaving that become unconscious. People born with an identity they are supposed to stick to for the rest of their life. It is the principle of “misrecognition” that means that dominant structures become obvious and clear to people. This is the way violence starts to be seen as normal. It follows the social step in which violence is no more evaluated as such; becoming a cultural reproduction.
In detail, culture is, briefly speaking, the combination of ethics, morality, and behaviours that are common within a population. Being it a social and personal code of orientation, it helps humans to define and re-define themselves. Media are the carriers of culture. What becomes mainstream, in the media, automatically becomes popular culture. The media are the closest reference we can resort to, in order to grasp a general picture of reality. What appears on the media indirectly convinces and persuades us to be true. Thus, when culture becomes popular, it can be both a product of the media and a product of the people. For this reason, popular culture is resistance and consent. It is revolution and agreement. It is agreed with unanimity and imposed one. Music, movies, clothes, language, habits, rituals have a social impact and a social effect. Popular culture can be deemed trivial or not- qualitative or consumerist. Conversely, popular culture may be a breeding ground for a politicized society. Do we know exactly what popular culture is? What if it, directly or indirectly, embodies violent contents? By Maddalena Migliori