Global terrorism as anti-movement | openDemocracy
In this innovative study, Michel Wieviorka applies interventionist sociology to a light on the terrorists and their relationships both to the movements they represent Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and. Michel Wieviorka: The word terrorism, like many others, has a shared meaning in political contexts and in the media. It is difficult . It can influence international relations, encouraging certain alliances, for example. And in the. The author begins by challenging Michel Wieviorka's dismissal of the claim that there is a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media. Terrorists'.
On one hand, terrorism is an instrumental action, a resource mobilized by actors to achieve certain means - calculations are made, strategies outlined, and the reasonable means are considered even if often the cost of the actions is disproportional to the results accomplished. On the other hand, it could imply the loss of direction, a more or less advanced decoupling between the perpetrator of violence and the class, people or nation the terrorist purports to represent.
In this case, terrorism seems all the more violent and unstoppable as the perpetrator loses the recognition of those he claims to embody. He speaks the language of guns and explosives while those he claims to represent, the movement of which he deems himself the highest expression, cannot recognize itself at all in his actions. His discourse is artificial.
He acts according to what I call an inversion of the national or social movement, whose meaning the terrorists perverts. However, in the s a deep mutation occurred. Terrorists of yesteryear became enfeebled, broke down or simply disappeared, leaving room eventually for other forms of action.
SAGE Books - Violence and the Media
Global terrorism This ushered in the era of global terrorism, inaugurated in the wake of the Iranian Revolution with the attacks in Lebanon. Terrorist action could no longer be pigeonholed in the framework of the nation-state and international relations.
It was to a certain extent also meta-political, religious, with its references to the Ummah and Jihad. Its scope was global, boundless. The instrumental dimension of action became hard to define. When terrorists start giving their lives and killing at the same time, the cost-benefit equation becomes problematic if the question is how to consider the value of the life of a man. However, such actions could make sense in the eyes of many in the world, and remarkably so among Arab and Muslim populations, sensitive to the virulent anti-western and anti-Semitic motivations of terrorists.
Global terrorism peaked with the acts of September 11, The perpetrators were not from American soil. The meaning with which they imbued their actions was religious and anti-western. They exhibited great rationality in the practical feat: Terrorism could be carried out by actors that do not require a chain of command to act locally, while conferring a general, global meaning to their actions.
The first is exemplified by the spectacular attacks in MadridLondonCasablanca, Bali and Istanbul. These attacks were the feats of people who lived in said counties, but who did not seem to espouse a political project other than expressing hatred and resentment.
They felt as if they had no place in society and were not sheltered by the State, whether in the UK, Spain or anywhere else. The extreme violence employed seems unhinged from organization.
It is hyper-located but at the time its meaning inscribes it in global and meta-political logics of radical Islam or other struggles, as in Norway with far right-extremist Anton Breivik.
The police and court investigations many times indicate that behind these killers there are online networks, but also face-to-face encounters with other actors of radical Islam, prison relationships, meeting in the Middle East or in European mosques, etc.
Finally, the third logic at work in this new era of global terrorism is the construction of quasi states, such as Daesh or Boko Haram, and the attempt to impose through internal and external violence, to be sure, but also in fostering local forms of social life. Islamic terrorism has thus diversified, but it is surely global, since its meaning is global and because even very localized actions are inscribed in a globalized symbolic dimension and imaginary.
And it is the type of menace that could materialize anywhere in the world, because it is not something that can be carried out by a few exalted extremists. It makes sense to many, even if only a few cross the threshold between words and deeds. Second, terrorism has to make sense for its protagonists, with this particular fact that it combines a loss of meaning — it speaks artificially in the name of a class, a people, a nation, a community that does not recognise itself in its violence — and at the same time is overloaded with meaning — ideology, religion.
Terrorism is therefore a calculation and strategy on the one hand and simultaneous loss and overload of meaning on the other. I demonstrated this in my book Societies and Terrorism Fayard. For example, extreme-left Italian terrorism spoke in the name of a working-class proletariat that did not support its crimes, or that of ETA in Spain, which became increasingly violent as it expressed a national and popular myth that was becoming untenable.
Marc Sageman is an independent scholar Phd. The Emergence of TerrorismUniversity of Pennsylvania. Contemporary terrorism results from a certain form of political violence dating back to the French Revolution, as illustrated in my new book Turning to Political Violence University of Pennsylvania, Over the past two centuries, this type of political violence has evolved to become more professional and indiscriminate, targeting civilians.
It often used newly available technology of the times. The first suicide bomber was a clock-maker in the French town of Senlis, who blew himself up in December and killed 25 other people, a record that stood for over a century. Terrorism in the s and s was more focused on capitalists or the state — in the case of leftist violence — and on targeted populations — in the case of right-wing supremacist violence.
The fact that the present wave of terrorism came from outside the West makes the West as a whole a target of this violence. This was not the case 50 years ago. There are important differences between the terrorism of the s and s, which itself is already a renewal of that of the late 18th century, Russian populists and other social revolutionaries of the late 19th century, and the contemporary phenomenon.
The turning point came in the mids. Previous we have experienced internal terrorism, from the extreme left- or right-wing extremists, or separatist terrorism, as with the ETA in the Basque region ; and international terrorism, starting with the one claiming to be for the Palestinian cause.
The old ways have not disappeared, as there are still right-wing and separatist terrorists, and violence fuelled by religion is not the monopoly of radical Islam — there is, for example, Hindu terrorism.
How is terrorism affecting France and America today, both in the short and long run? Political violence is a dialectical phenomenon, a conflict pitting the state against a political protest community. This type of response is more common in international war, to guard against enemy infiltration.
This is worrisome because sophisticated surveillance technology could be used against any political dissenter. In the long run, after this wave of terrorism fades, this capability will remain, threatening privacy.
I suspect that state overreach and scandals will curb this threat, as societal discussions will eventually reach a balance between security and privacy. Terrorism today combines internal dimensions, which are rooted in the political and social life of a society, and others related to defence and diplomacy. Its impact is immediate and, as Marc says, it encourages measures such as the French state of emergency or the US Patriot Act. These weaken democracy by granting the executive branch the right to bypass justice in the name of security, a necessity, but with the risk of abuses.
Terrorism undermines the legitimacy of political authorities, which are still suspected of failing to do everything necessary to ensure the security of citizens, and it reinforces mistrust, weakens confidence and creates concerns about the future.
It also has economic impacts — for example, scaring away tourists at least temporarily, and requiring increased public spending on security mesures. It can influence international relations, encouraging certain alliances, for example. And in the longer term, it raises serious questions that call for renewed public policies in education, employment and the fight against discrimination.
Are we observing a new phenomenon and a change in the way terrorism might spread? All these returnees were viewed with suspicion, but with rare exceptions, the expected waves of political violence never occurred.
They need to be monitored but it should not be assumed that they would necessarily carry out terrorism at home. If the Western powers defeat the Islamic State in a fair way, I do not anticipate a wave of terror in the home countries.
The process is like demobilisation after an international war. The demobilised soldiers often go back to the lives they had before the conflicts. There have occasionally been comparisons of French youth going to Syria to join Daech with those who joined the International Brigades in Spain in Today, in some cases at least, one cannot dissociates internal and foreign factors — action allows the two to be combined, to allow young people from a working-class area of France — or from a village in Normandy, for that matter — to give a meaning to their existence by joining a conflict taking place in the Middle East.
That is why we need to talk about global terrorism — that is to say, terrorism that combines local, national and international meanings.