South Sudan and Violence

Violence is the business model in South Sudan” George Clooney and John Prendergast.

Sadly, this is not only in South Sudan, home to a place of my ancestral origin; violence is undeniably big buck business all over the world.

But violence is perpetrated in different forms – raw, primitive and advanced forms of violence. Power, often with the help of established coordinated structures, gives options and the ability to be violent without necessarily the application of force.

Whereas it’s true that force is a tool of violence; violence doesn’t always necessarily require the use and application of force. It’s possible to be violent without the use and application of force and with far more devastating effects than the use and application of force can cause. Violence by other means but force!

However, what is happening in South Sudan, as unfortunate as it is – what is largely behind the brutal, physical violence in South Sudan, is a combination of people with power – people with competing power interests but with a complete absence of established structures to give options other than and beyond the use and application of brute force.

Those currently in power in South Sudan have brute force as the only option of violence to exercise and apply in their competing power interests. I’ve heard people, on various occasions, moot what is to me, an extremely interesting but quite naive idea of “accountable” power.

Similarly, I’ve heard people, preposterously going so far as to suggest that those in power in South Sudan should be accountable. To which, I painstakingly ask: accountable to who? A question that often draws and leads to a protracted debate.

But what I find particularly and strikingly naive is the idea [suggestion] of “accountable” power, more so, that people actually, rather gullibly, believe in such thing especially its possible application in perpetually conflict prone zones – South Sudan currently being one such zones.

Let me be upfront, the idea of “accountable” power is, frankly, an oxymoron and it is an insult to the intelligence of many who are victims of power. But this an idea that’s, by and large, entertained and promoted by perpetual optimists of power, who also equally entertain the idea, deep down their optimistic souls, that power has a conscience!

The reality of the matter, however, is that power, by its very nature, is unaccountable and seeks to be as unaccountable as possible, or as minimally accountable as possible. In fact, that arguably, of course, might explain why people seek power. Why people who seek power are willing to do all kinds of things, go to great lengths to see to it that they get power, which gives them the ability to be unaccountable about many things.

But more importantly, power gives the option and ability to be violent without using and applying force.

Those in power and, note[1] with power, (I make this distinction deliberately) with the help of established power structures, can engage in and use other forms of violence against competing interests and achieve their objectives.

Note[1]: I used “those in power and with power“, on purpose because I believe, based on numerous observational studies, there are those in power, especially positional power who, on the outset, look powerful but without real and effective power. These are simply power conveyors and cannot do anything or act on their own volition. They often have to seek [for] permission to do things and their main role is more to execute commands than make decisions on what commands to give and subsequently execute.

They are often characteristically ostentatious in their outward efforts to display and demonstrate their “power” – that is, how powerful they are, usually borne out of their inner feelings of powerlessness despite their positions. The more they feel the need and want to demonstrate their power, the more their actions and underlying intentions demonstrate, expose and hence validate their lack of power. For a truly powerful person will, in most cases, feel no need to demonstrate it and hence prove their power. It’s naturally evident.

Power is conspicuous by its very nature, in its intents and purposes. It has its own inimitable ways to show. It’s felt without muttering a word. Power is felt even in both complete silence and utter deafening noise.

But too often, these types in power without real and effective power are the most characteristically dangerous in a sense that, often in their pursuit to execute commands, from those with real power, and to impress them so to maintain their positions, they will do anything, ethical or not. Without regard to clear and/or underlying due process!

They will, without a thought or care, do and undertake the most grotesquely inhumane things simply and primarily because, their own survival depends on their own ability to execute commands well beyond and exceed expectations. Theirs is simply a battle of do or else. And the “else” is often unimaginably, extremely and life threateningly punitive, and therefore, rightly so, one that must be avoided at all costs. It’s a battle of competing to impress those who give commands.

But this kind of power arrangement is only possible in non-conflict zones, places where there’s no raging wars going on, where there’s no complete breakdown of social order and social structures like it’s currently the case in South Sudan.

In conflict tone places such as the South Sudan, power is primarily derived from secondary weapons such as guns. Therefore, whoever has a gun in their possession, has power to the extent that they can use the gun to force and have their will prevail on [over] those without the same weapons or more and perhaps superior. So, more power lies in number of weapons, that is, who has the most and more powerful, possibly advanced, stock of weapons in their possession. And equally, who has and controls the most numbers of those who carry and use the weapons, conventionally known as “soldiers“.

Soldiers“, those hapless human beings who will open fire at anything or anyone at the point of a commanding finger or indeed, voice and a mean, disapproving and condemning look, often from someone in a position of a “superior” – the most dangerous but incredibly stupid designation insofar as hierarchical structures are concerned. Because it denotes [a superiority of] primacy, hence why those under such stupidity hardly question it and therefore explains why fairly good and well meaning people end up doing things they would otherwise, under different circumstances possibly never do, without such hierarchical structure.

In conclusion, the basic reason why, apparently, “Violence is the business model in South Sudan” is primarily because there are many people the South Sudan in possession of weapons; and there are many competing political power interests who see their salvation, their survival and hope of achieving whatever their objectives are, in the wanton use of weapons in their possession.