Any situation in which “A” objectively exploits “B” or hinders his and her pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with the individual’s ontological and historical vocations to become more fully human. With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed.
Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others and persons—not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized. It is not the unloved who initiate disaffection, but those who cannot love because they love only themselves. It is not the helpless, subject to terror, who initiate terror, but the violent, who with their power create the concrete situation which begets the “rejects of life.” It is not the tyrannized who initiate despotism, but the tyrants. It is not the despised who initiate hatred, but those who despise. It is not those whose humanity is denied them who negate humankind, but those who deny that humanity (thus negating their own as well).
— Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Amazon, Goodreads)
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