A civil word

June 4, 2004

The pre-publication review of my book Violence and Democracy (Books, May 21) by a professional ceramicist came as a surprise.

Pity then that every one of Ivo Mosley's polemical claims are so poorly crafted. I do not assume that "democracies are peaceable by nature" or claim that existing civil societies are full of "nice" people.

My thesis is that political thinking needs to recognise that violence is the biggest single danger to democracies as we know them, which is why I do not ignore "the ways democracies engage in violence" or express bafflement at "the enjoyment of violence in popular culture".

Your notes to prospective reviewers state, in bold: "Ensure that you review the book as a whole."

In a hurry to preach from his soapbox, Mr Mosley has evidently snubbed that rule, because it appears that he has not dared or bothered to take time to read the book as a whole.

John Keane
Centre for the Study of Democracy
Westminster University

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