This essay revolves around different types of violence witnessed in political society and their relationship to the democratic form that many postcolonial states have inherited. It especially draws on studies of popular protests, negrophobic and xenophobic violence against lower-income migrants, and deadly competition for elected party and government positions in postapartheid South Africa. The discussion focuses on describing the relationship between these three phenomena alongside aspects of multiparty politics, single-party rule, and violent contests for profitable offices in other African states. The continuous competition to defeat opponents, obtain victories, secure majorities, occupy the place of power, and embody its force—which liberal democracies institute—is central to this argument about the violence that South Africa has witnessed in recent times. The essay unpacks these ways of doing politics in order to make a broader theoretical statement about how received models of democracy are implicated in political society's violence in postcolonial contexts.

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