Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Terrorism" and other manipulations

From The Next Big Future, which I believe is Brian Wang's website/blog (I'm new at this stuff) , I find a piece entitled Terrorism is a subset of Murder

(asserting, if I get it right, that Terrorism is illegitimate by virtue of being criminal).

One commenter, Gigi, responded:

As I have already tried to say before, I consider any use of the word “terrorism” more or less pointless.
In fact, reading much of the western media about “terrorism” there is almost nowhere any clear definition of the word “terrorism”, for the simple reason that for any kind of such definition many of the military actions taken by the West against unarmed civilians in, say, Iraq or Vietnam may well fall in this definition.
Is this an action of terrorism?
Simply put it, if Hamas kills one Israeli civilian it is terrorism, if the US or Israel directly kill 10 or more Palestinian it is counter-terrorism.
Much biased, in my opinion.
I have already had a discussion abut this topic few weeks ago with NBF, and this discussion almost lead nowhere.
I admit my position may not be so popular in the US, but this is it and we should value each human life as one without giving different value to human people according to their citizenship.


I more than agree with Gigi and my response is found below. Meanwhile I recommend the magnificent parable of political psychology: The Emperor's New Clothes(

Dear Gigi,

Thank you for your remarks. I too, see the use of "terrorism/terrorist" as utterly illegitimate. It is what the govts of nations under attack by "asymmetric opponents" use in an attempt -- quite effective, actually -- to rhetorically delegitimize their opponents.

Here's how it works: Terrorism is equated -- defined uncritically -- as evil, and terrorists, as evil persons (or, to use George Bush's term, "evildoers"). This bypasses any considerations of "why?", of any prior events which might have provoked the "blowback". By labeling events/people as "terrorism/terrorists" those in power presumptively bypass further investigation into the underlying reasons for the acts. "Move right along. Nothing to see here."

This works instantly for a large proportion of the population -- those who haven't the skills, interest, or time to look into the matter further -- so that after an attack, with few people caring "why?", and the established powers, blaring out "Terrorism!!", a majority of the populace get revved up into a ravening nationalistic mob, and the rest -- this too is crucial -- get cowed into acquiescence lest they be labeled "traitors" or "terrorist sympathizers" or "appeasers".

And the "why?" of the matter disappears into the mist.

So the "terror" label serves both to mobilize domestic political support -- those in power ***LOVE*** that aspect of the "terror" business -- while diverting/suppressing inquiry into the "why?" That inquiry would of course bring to light the underlying causes of the attack, which would also of course point back to those in power -- a definite negative,... for them.

But a thoughtful minority will persist in asking "why?" And eventually -- but too late to thwart the ambitions of those in power -- the truth will come out

No one gets up in the morning and says "I hate Americans (or whoever) and I'm going to attack them." They have a reason, a grievance that has not been addressed. Thus terrorism is not an initiation of aggression but a response, a reaction to it, and consequently LEGITIMATE. You can well imagine this to be the last thing those in powers want widely considered in any public forum(which is where a controlled and compliant media is helpful, and earns "insider" privileges) .

As to the legitimacy of attacks on "civilians" -- it's more of the same manipulative rhetoric, the pandering to emotionalism and jingoism. There are no "civilians", "innocent" (another semantic trick to amplify the presumption of illegitimacy) or otherwise. Consider: would it be okay to attack "guilty" civilians. Would it be legitimate to attack military personnel? Do military personnel come in two varieties,: innocent and guilty? You get the point. It's all rhetoric, all semantics, all propaganda, all bullshit, and most everyone knows it (cf Goat Guy's "ambivalence").

Let me offer an alternative definitional foundation: right and wrong. Those who start wars are in the wrong, those who fight back, in the right. The nature of war: war is the ultimate condition of non-cooperation, which means there are no rules. Violence against violence, unrelenting until the limit of pain, exhaustion, or bankruptcy is reached. The "ultimate condition of non-cooperation" means the "other" side makes war any way they want and any way they can, and whoever is on the receiving end just has to suck it up. Ambition and profit for the powerful, pain and suffering for the lesser folk (military and civilian alike). And of course, those in power will seek to maintain the support of their populace by claiming the other side is pure evil.

Truth: the first victim.

Anyway Gigi, I just wanted let you know that you and I and the others who feel as we do, are many, but our voices are suppressed by the money lust of the profiteers and the blood lust of the mob.

Take care.

Jeff Davis


Ron said...

Terrorism is the policy deliberate targeting of civilians in order to influence political policy or effect 'regime change'. I don't see a whole lot of evidence that the US is doing that, but nothing can surprise us.

Itch41 said...

War itself is terrorism. War is about Wall Street, Corporations, politics. The winners are G.E. - (largest corporation on earth), Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, Raytheon, RCA, the C.E.O's, C.F.Os, the GOP, the generals, the arms Merchants, CNN, NBC, ABC.. etc...,
The losers are the uneducated, poor, old and suffering. The young men have no opportunities available but there is always the military.They can get free college and 'up to' $40,000 to start a business. So your son wants to join. How do you feel about it? Do you consider the game? Which is......:
Put your son on the roulette table and bet on him.
If you/he wins - you save $40,000 in college money,
he'll be able to move out and support himself when he comes home or someone knocks on the door to tell you he's dead.
Now, let's say that on a certain day a universal peace -pact was passed. Miraculously, war was universally banned. In a short time the world economy would collapse - the fall of the Roaming Empire, as it were. It's a matter of stopping ourselves from having to blow stuff up, especially other people. This is an easy choice for the military and the stupidly talented because it negates the need to know anything or feel anything. We are going to devolve into "killer parrots"
- hearing and repeating the all-day mantra of Rush
"I'll need two chairs, please" Limbaugh. Do we transcend this or what? We're at a world-wide cross-road. Raise all boats with education for all so minds
think critically and creatively? - or let it all keep happening just like it is. We will continue to develop more powerful weapons and sell them to everyone so any "army", read: (bunch of kids in their twenties) can slaughter any other 'attacker' more efficiently than the last model. Just invest in any of those corporations because they'll be in business for a long time - at least until there are no more customers.