terror: therapeutic or not

…Of course, certain trends of modern society and certain currents of modern thought have contributed more directly than others to shaping the patterns of modern terrorism. Frantz Fanon’s concept of therapeutic violence- aggravated by Sartre’s embroideries on the theme, as Hannah Arendt has pointed out- has had a significant influence, especially in former colonialized regions.

---Arafat and former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin---click image for source...

—Arafat and former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin—click image for source…

Trotsky’s apology for revolutionary terror, including such barbarous practices as shooting hostages, was carried, and is carried by New Left thinkers to extremes that would probably have horrified Trotsky himself. Above all, distorted interpretations of Marx’s class-war doctrine have been blended with run-to-seed social Darwinism to depict the revolutionary’s bourgeois enemy as a subhuman type whose extermination by any means is justifiable.

As early as 1907 a Russian Maximalist intellectual named Pavlov published a booklet entitled Purification of the Human Race, which described a “race” of exploiters with innate “negative traits” resembling those of the gorilla and the orangutan. All the representatives of this pernicious breed, Pavlov declared, should be “exterminated like cockroaches.”

---Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat talks to U.S. President Bill Clinton on the phone about the new peace deal while U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stands by at Arafat’s office in Gaza September 3.---Reuters...

—Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat talks to U.S. President Bill Clinton on the phone about the new peace deal while U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stands by at Arafat’s office in Gaza September 3.—Reuters…

Important as the ideology undoubtedly is, however, some of the key episodes in the history of modern terrorism are no less essential to a true understanding of its present social implications. To begin with,the word itself has an instructive history. It comes not from “terror” but from The Terror, that of the French Revolution.  Used by Robespierre’s enemies after they had guillotined him, it was a pejorative for the fallen dictator’s policies and apologists. Soon it became the pretext for launching a new reign of terror against the “terrorists” themselves. Thus the first terrorists were not subversives trying to over throw a regime., but men in power using police violence to defend the state.


(see link at end)… In a 1984 book, Lukacs implied that the end of the twentieth century would see a return to barbarity. He says now that “Fear and hatred are prevalent among us, manifest and evident in the increasing savagery — savagery is the proper word, not ‘violence’ — in and around our everyday lives. Fear and hatred are human characteristics, and we shall never be able to eliminate them entirely. We must recognize not only their existence but their latent — and often more than latent — presence among those who wish to wield power.”

Today, we are awash if not overwhelmed, drowning, in rhetoric of democracy cloaked into other actualities. Lukacs suggests we reverse the Wilsonian conundrum “. . . to make the world safe for democracy.” Make it rather, Lukacs says, “How to make democracy safe for the world.”

If we say that democracy is the rule of a majority (as distinct from the majority), then we confront defining and understanding majority. A majority of those whose votes are counted is different than the majority. Lukacs suggests that democracy is rule by politicians elected by a majority or plurality of those whose votes were counted. If this majority rules without temperance for minority and individual rights or “. . . when this temperance is weak, or unenforced, or unpopular, then democracy is nothing more (or less) than populism. More precisely: then it is nationalism populism.” And thus is Democracy and Populism well launched….Read More:http://www.swans.com/library/art11/mgc158.html

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