The States Must Be Crazy: Dissent and the Puzzle of Repressive Persistence
AbstractAccording to forty years worth of research, dissent always increases repression whereas state coercive behavior has a range of different influences on dissident activity. If the outcome of government action is uncertain, why do authorities continue to apply repression? We explore this “puzzle of repressive persistence” using official records of U.S. government activities against the Republic of New Africa, a Black Nationalist organization active in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In particular, we investigate three proposed answers to the puzzle: repression is effective but in a way not currently considered; repression functions by mechanisms not hitherto considered by quantitative researchers; or those who use repression are not actually interested in eliminating dissent. We find that persistence in this case can be attributed to: 1) a long-term plan to eliminate challengers deemed threatening to the U.S. political-economy and 2) the influence of particular agents of repression engaged in a crusade against Black radicals. Both factors increased the likelihood of continued coercion despite short-term failure; indeed such an outcome actually called for additional repressive action. These insights open up a new area of research for conflict scholars interested in occurrence, persistence and escalation.
Copyright (c) 2015 International Journal of Conflict and Violence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Upon submitting a contribution, the authors certify that:
- They are authorised by their co-authors to enter into these arrangements.
- The submitted manuscript is original and has not been published in a similar form or with generally the same content in an ISSN/ISBN-registered journal or book in any language before, that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere, that its publication has been approved by all the authors and that the authors have full authority to enter into this agreement.
- They warrant and represent that they have the full power and authority to enter into and execute this agreement and to convey the rights granted herein, and that such rights are not now subject to prior assignment, transfer or other encumbrance. This also applies to the text and photo originals attained from other sources (for which the authors have secured the right to reproduce any material that has already been published or copyrighted elsewhere).
- Their manuscript contains nothing that is unlawful, libellous, or which would, if published, constitute a breach of contract or of confidence or of commitment given to secrecy.
- In the event that the parties to this agreement, either individually or collectively, are held responsible for damages or the costs of a legal process undertaken by a third party as a result of the authors’ actions under points 1, 2, 3, and 4, the authors agree to release the publisher from the claims of the third party and to compensate the publisher for any resulting legal costs.
- They agree to the following license and copyright agreement:
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication in print and online. The work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works License (CC-BY-ND), which allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. However, the work may not be altered or transformed. The license is valid for both electronic and paper copies.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors grant IJCV rights to integrate the work, its title, and its abstract in databases, abstracting and indexing services, and other similar information sources.
- German Law shall apply to this agreement. Court of jurisdiction is Bielefeld, Germany.