Terrorism has become a very important subject in our present world. It’s the universal threat, the constant risk, the ever-present danger of being affected by it stakes. It is what it is: the philosophy of terror. Terrorism is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective”. Marx called it “armed propaganda”, since the most obvious effect terrorists achieve is to attract the attention of the people towards their cause. It doesn’t matter what kind of propaganda the terror and violence spreads, the important part is that it actually spreads and reaches the most people it can.
Terrorism, as a tactic, is used by minority groups to face bigger forces than theirs. The perfect examples are the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Irish Revolutionary Army and, as nowadays fashion, Al-Qaeda. They use random bombing, kidnapping, and other guerrilla warfare tactics to combat their declared enemies. In contrast, the defenders from terrorism use more conventional but equally gruesome counter-measures, such as missile launching and tank deployment. It’s like the story of David versus Goliath: stones against swords (bombs, nukes, tanks and rifles in our case), but those stones hit where they hurt the most.
The innocent people are the most affected party in terrorism times. They are the target for the terrorists, they’re the vulnerable spot to hit with the stones. But they’re not totally innocent, they support the same governments or terrorists groups that keep the “War on Terrorism” as a permanent cycle (the same process H.G. Welles mentions in his work: “War is meant to be continuous, in order to maintain the structure of society, the powerful in power and the masses in famish, despair and fear”). After all, a war must be fought by two sides, equally outgoing for battling.
Governments can be terrorists also, not only minor cell-like organizations. For being a terrorist, all that is needed is to help maintain the environment of general fear. Niccolo Machiavelli stated: “It is better to be feared than loved, because fear lasts longer”. And it’s true; fear doesn’t just last longer, but it is more efficient. Fear can make people do unthinkable deeds, ranging from stupid to horrifying. And that benefits those in power, even more if they aren’t those feared, but something abstract as terrorism: the general and permanent sensation of danger, from unnamed, unidentifiable, uncertain and improbable sources. Fear everything, including life itself.
Tampico, Mexico. 2004.