Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Robert A. Pape – Professor, Political Science Department. Director, Chicago Project on Security & Threats, University of Chicago
Dr. Victor Chidubem Iwuoha – Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria
Roderick A. Cowan – Executive Director, Chicago Project on Security & Threats, University of Chicago

Key points

Professor Robert Pape stresses that political violence poses a distinct and often unrecognised problem for business. Starting from the premise that business is based on property rights which are secured by government, then tests to democracy are key, and democracy is currently being tested in a way that will have implications around the world. Discussing the insurrection in Washington which he has studied he notes that those who broke into the seat of government were from the mainstream, not radicals or militia, a half of them were busines owners with characteristics that he describes as ‘very different from normal’ protestors. He notes that 21 million US adults hold two radical beliefs that the Biden election was illegitimate and the use of force to restore Trump to power was justified. It is not just the US, he points to examples (albeit with different contexts) in Germany and Canada.

Rod Cowan makes it known that he wants to solve problems and sees the bringing together of business, academia and government as key. He laments the role of security management, many managers lack status in the organisations they work in, often adopt a narrow focus on security and are often blind to international events and the impacts they can have, you will witness him give examples. Security education is a part of the issue here, and noting that many academics including specialists in security argue business education is more important than security education, he invites a rethink. As you will hear he is critical of politicians too.

Dr Victor Chidubem Iwuoha discusses the diverse range of factors that fuel political violence. Speaking from Africa he provides different examples where corrupt politics and political systems have served to stir up public anger and rebellion; when the state is acting illegitimately against its people the consequences are clear. People suffer and more so as investors are driven away, often fearful for their own safety. Praising social media rather than criticising it, for spreading insights into injustice, he calls for more education and awareness and to focus on eradicating exclusion, and on that point mirrors a point made by Professor Pape.

This webinar provides different insights on political violence highlighting examples of businesses owners taking part, underlining at the same time and in different ways the dangers of exclusion. The panel put social media, often blamed for inciting violence, in perspective, we learn the real problems rest elsewhere and we ignore them at our peril.

Martin Gill
10th February 2022

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