Politics in Minutes (2016)

Violent direct action

Frustration with the actions of a government can often trigger a shift from peaceful protest and civil disobedience to more violent direct action, particularly when that government is oppressive or corrupt. It is also common for peaceful demonstrations to become violent when feelings run high or their policing is heavy-handed. Although usually seen as a last resort, actions such as rioting, destruction of property and even terrorism and assassination are seen by extremist movements as legitimate forms of protest.

These may be isolated instances of terrorism, such as bombings or hostage-taking, or part of a campaign of armed insurrection involving military action against government forces. Depending on the circumstances, and the political leanings of the observer, the use of violence can be seen as a cowardly attack on democratic values or the heroic actions of freedom fighters – yet mainstream political ideologies are reluctant to condone the use of force except as a last resort.