Ammon Bundy and Radical Separatism in the Developed World

| January 11, 2016


Ammon Bundy’s actions are no small, laughing matter—quite the contrary.

Nick Rudnik

Nick Rudnik, Valdosta Today Opinion Contributor

Comparative political scientists devote significant attention to the concept of political violence. Generally speaking, political violence is understood as the use of physical violence, or the threat of physical violence, to realize political ends.

Political violence comes in many shapes and sizes. For instance, if the source of violence or the threat of violence stems from the state, and the target of the violence is another state, the ensuing violence is classified as war. By contrast, if the source of violence is an individual or non-state group, and the target is another individual or group, the type of violence can be classified under several categories: terrorism, nation-based conflict, or class conflict. The point is: the broad term “political violence” garners varying connotations, contingent upon context.

Recently, Ammon Bundy, the son of now-famous Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, has found himself in newspaper headlines nationwide again. This time for occupying a federal building in an Oregon wildlife refuge Sunday night. The Bundy clan previously found itself in the national news for leading an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management officials, in an attempt to highlight ranchers’ rights.

The current standoff emerged following the convergence of armed, so-called “militia members” on the small hamlet of Burns, Oregon, to support a pair of ranchers imprisoned on an arson conviction. Bundy claims that his loose group of armed protesters are willing to occupy the federal wildlife sanctuary building “for years,” if necessary.

But the younger Bundy’s latest actions carry with them a deeper meaning than he purports. Rather, his actions border on yet another type of political violence: separatism. Violent separatism is not typical in the developed countries. The Global North is marked by higher levels of political stability and social continuity relative to the less developed regions of the world.

Violent separatism is a type of political violence where individuals, or small, non-state groups of individuals, commit an act of violence, or threaten violence, against the state or perceived agents of the state with the hope of achieving certain political ends—typically, increased social or political autonomy.

Indeed, Bundy claims his protest is nonviolent; the armed protestors are merely exercising their legal rights. However, the latent motivation of occupying a federal building with armed protestors is well-understood: it is a tacit threat of physical violence, should federal functionaries attempt to remove them from the wildlife center. This is the problem with Bundy’s plan. It is not nonviolent, it is not democratic, it is however separatist and radical.

The solution for Bundy to support the convicted ranchers, in accordance with our democratic values, would be to hire legal counsel to defend the jailed ranchers, to hold an actual nonviolent protest or sit-in (accepting the premise they’ll likely be arrested), to support political candidates who vow to uphold their perspective, to gather signatures for a petition demanding the ranchers be freed from prison, or the like. These actions in a free and democratic society are more difficult than shouldering a rifle in a foolhardy attempt to strong-arm federal bureaucrats.

If Ammon Bundy truly understood the democratic values he purports to uphold, he would invariably seek out the path to the ballot and not to the bullet. If the Bundys of the world have their say, each and every time they find their regime out of power or their viewpoint out of the mainstream, armed conflict would ensue. Democracy would be impossible.

There’s another type of political violence Ammon Bundy should remember: order maintenance. Oftentimes, the state must employ measures to maintain its legal monopoly on the use of force. Normative order maintenance activities include policing, security, and the like. Save Bundy and his compatriots capitulating to federal authorities, the state will inevitably use its policing powers to rein in the lawlessness in Burns, Oregon.

And that’s the double-edged sword of using violence as a means to a political end. Excuse the pun.

Wisenbaker: Cabals, messengers and capitulation
Review: The Forest

About the Author:

Filed in: Opinion

9 Comments on "Ammon Bundy and Radical Separatism in the Developed World"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. pc says:

    Full back story re: Armed militia stationing at closed Wildlife Park Headquarters (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge) around Harney Basin in Oregon

  2. blacksheep says:

    These are clowns they are lucky the Governor doesn’t send out the national guard then we will see how tough they are if they were black we already know what the outcome of this would be

  3. Walter Diahatsu says:

    Bundy is a tool, his dad is a tool, his supporters are tools, and I guess that building can now be called a Tool shed. Y’allQaeda and it’ Yeejad are no better than the “protestors” in Ferguson, Baltimore, etc.

    • blacksheep says:

      None of the protesters in Ferguson or Baltimore were taking over a federal building with arms drawn challenging the Government

      • Walter Diahatsu says:

        No…they only destroyed private businesses, looted, and caused millions of dollars in damages.

        • blacksheep says:

          So you think its ok to destroy government buildings, loot and cause the government millions of dollars but private businesses are off limits but the point that you are failing to miss is that the police were there before the protesters arrived where are the police now what about the people who work there are they to just sit home and collect a check because these thugs think they are entitled to the government building because they say so

          • Walter Diahatsu says:

            The point is that both groups are gluteal chapeaus. The difference now is that one group are just acting like idiots by occupying an abandoned shack owned by the Gubment but haven’t caused Millions of dollars in damage or acted with real aggression towards anyone. Personally I would prefer FBI swat go in and beat every one of the Bundy’s followers with a baton just for being stupid but then again I also would have preferred that police mowed down protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore. It’s called cleaning the gene pool. At least the Oregon/Bundy crowd actually believe in a “cause” even though it’s misguided and baseless and they’re not just causing wanton destruction for the sake of new sneakers or a TV.

      • C'mon now says:

        You’re right black sheep- they went ahead and burned the buildings to the ground in ferguson …and yes, some were armed…and yes, some were fighting the police. Have a good evening.

        • blacksheep says:

          well we know why these guys aren’t fighting the police its because they are not there because they are good ole boys with guns and that’s ok