Violence breeds violence

It's a common concept, easy to relate to, and quite straightforward: you hit me, I hit you. It holds whether we're talking about people or communities, small tribes or whole nations. Violent acts from an attacker generate violent responses from the attacked. Simple, right?

I'm afraid that’s only half of the picture.

Suppose I do not retaliate to the violence you bring forward, either by complying or leaving or just not doing anything. All these (clearly simplified and very catholic) scenarios do not alter the roles of attacked and attacker. The attacker, however, nets a win (your compliance) or a non-loss in other cases; they are materially incentivized to prolong his attack. We see that violence does not bring more violence from the victim, but from the oppressor.

There’s more.

Suppose now we're not isolated; more people are allowed to join our conflict. Which side are they on? Here things get more complicated, since different people have different views, but two examples shall do. On a small scale, outsiders are more likely to take the victim's side; they immediately recognize the direction violence flows, intervene to restore balance and possibly expel the initiator of violence. However, on a larger scale of, say, institutions and countries, the opposite happens. Everyone sides with the perceived powerful, seeking to take advantage of the victim. It happened wih colonialism, it happened in post-WW2, it happend in Israel and yes, it's still happening now.

So what happens if you increase funding to armies and police, notable institutions that cannot operate no matter how tiny the amount of needed violence? More people and groups will feel emboldened to strike the victim. You get KKK, you get racial shootings, you get trans abuses. Violence breeds violence.

What happens if your country's politicians fund the fossil industries (who have perpetrated violence toward countless environments and countries for more than 100 years)? You get increased murders of activists, oil crises (= economic violence), climate apartheid and so on. Again, violence breeds violence.

It's just not in the retaliatory sense we would expect. There's no balance in violence. On a large scale, the deck is always stacked against the victim.

On a personal, human level, we seem to have innately understood this, and most times act accordingly. In this sense, the act of simply taking the blow can only work in small environments, where the victim knows they can rely on outside help to face the attacker. It's community and solidarity that restore the balance and break the cycle.

However, on the political level, we seem stuck within this dilemma, prisoners of the cycles of violence that flow above us (and often against us, causing us direct harm), but we have no idea how to effectively take someone's side in order to stop that grand, faceless version of violence. Sure, we've come a long way with our technological progress in the last 200 years; but the social technology, the methods to deal with these dilemmas, are yet to be discovered (or at least made popular enough).

And all our attackers benefit from that.