The Moral Difference between Personal and Structural Violence: Masaryk’s Criticism of an Argument in Nezávislé listy
In the middle of the 1890s, Masaryk involved himself directly and indirectly in the affairs of the so-called ‘progressive movement’ in his country. On more than one occasion. For instance, in the Vienna weekly Die Zeit, he informed the German-speaking subjects of the Danube Monarchy about the background of this nationalistic (and more or less socialist) movement in connection with the so-called Omladina affair.1 Some of the Omladina’s leaders were put on trial because of the part they had played in the anti-Austrian demonstrations in Prague in the late summer of 1893, demonstrations which provoked the government into declaring a state of emergency. One of the accused, Antonin Hajn, was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment for his part in the demonstrations. Despite these adverse circumstances, Hajn had still managed to produce an interesting critique of Masaryk’s views on the development of Czech politics and culture and, in particular, of his interpretation of the notion of humanity.2 He objected to the absolute ideal of humanity which Masaryk was propagating, inconsistently, according to him. Hajn sought to make a distinction between an absolute and a relative conception of humanity. The first is totally incompatible with the use of violence, while, if the ideal of humanity is understood in a relative manner, one should avoid the use of violence as much as possible. Humanity as an absolute ideal and the reality of the human condition are inconsistent with each other.
KeywordsGood Mark Intentional Action Moral Intuition Structural Violence Rhetorical Question
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