16 September 2004
Varieties of Terrorism
extended to the experience of the terrorized
- / -
Engendering terror through intimidation
Broadening the taxonomy of terrorism
Questions in distinguishing terror and terrorism
Distinguishing degrees of fear and terror
Training for intimidation and terrorism
"Terrorism-alpha" vs "Terrorism-beta"
This note endeavours to clarify the variety of ways in which terror is deliberately
caused or experienced. The purpose is to provide a reminder -- which should
not be necessary -- that the phenomenon of "terrorism" also exists
outside the specific domains in which "anti-terrorist" security measures
are taken. Ironically it could be argued that the official focus on the more
narrowly defined forms of "terrorism" is one of the most effective
means of obscuring other forms of terrorism to which far more people are exposed.
Typologies and taxonomies of "terrorism" seldom make any reference
to such other forms of terrorism and should therefore be considered incomplete
in the acknowledgement of the variety of ways in which people are intimidated.
It is worth recalling that the prime objective of "terrorism" is inducing
a climate of fear.
And yet it is precisely such other, more widespread, forms of "terrorism"
which are characteristic of any "breeding ground" for "terrorists"
in the narrower sense. It could be argued that many of these other varieties
of "terrorism" are not "serious", and some may even be understood
as negligible since they imply no threat of death. But the question is whether
they give rise to commensurate fear -- as perceived and experienced by those
exposed to such intimidation -- or whether such fear is to be devalued and demeaned
in comparison with that associated with the more narrowly defined forms of terrorism.
It is useful to reflect on how it is that the most powerful nations in modern
civilization have invested so much in countering the narrower form of terrorism,
whether in terms of funds, human resources or intelligence. And yet relatively
little is effectively invested in the response to the forms of terror that many
experience on a daily basis. It is almost as though resources are allocated
in highly visible response to an elusive enemy as a means of avoiding any response
to far more frequently experienced forms of terror in the daily lives of many.
The systematic counter-terrorist security measures might even be said to be
engendering more terror than those deliberately undertaking occasional conventional
It is also worth recalling that it is not only the prospect of physical violence
that causes fear but also various forms of contextual or structural violence.
Fear is an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, real or not. Fear
also could be described as a feeling of extreme dislike to some conditions/objects,
such as: fear of darkness, fear of ghosts, etc [more].
Inability to guarantee sufficient food or water, especially for vulnerable dependents,
may engender deep existential fear on a daily basis.
Engendering terror through intimidation
- Intimidation by natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes,
- Intimidation by wild animals (man-eaters, sharks, bears, snakes, etc)
- Intimidation of animals (abuse of work animals, cruelty to animals, vivisection,
- Intimidation by accidents (explosions, traffic, etc)
- Intimidation by economic disaster (financial collapse, factory closure,
- Intimidation by doom-mongering (asteroids, aliens, epidemics, end-times
scenarios, nuclear winter, etc)
- Intimidation through display of force (weaponry, small arms, missiles, battleships,
- Intimidation through health threats, by physicians, pharmaceutical companies,
etc (obesity, smoking, diet, cancer, etc)
- Intimidation by withholding vital aid to those in need
- Intimidation by limiting access to basic needs (food, shelter, medicine,
- Intimidation by threat of change to status quo
- Intimidation by "terrorists" (suicide bombing, kidnappings, etc)
- Intimidation by liberation movements
- Intimidation by political activists (animal rights, etc)
- Intimidation by "legitimate" conventional warfare (bombing, fire-bombing,
search and destroy, etc)
- Intimidation by the threat of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear warfare,
- Intimidation by targeted assassination
Institutionally-induced terror (through abuse of power and authority)
- State-sponsored terror (rogue states, etc)
- Intimidation by tyrants and dictators
- Intimidation by military superiors
- Intimidation by security personnel (prisons, secret services, security "contractors",
- Intimidation by government officials (bureaucratic harassment, taxation,
- Intimidation by secret services (and rogue agencies)
- Intimidation by corporate executives (dirty tricks, etc)
- Financial intimidation (bankers, loan sharks, etc)
- Intimidation by priests and priesthoods (hell fire, mortal soul, fear of
God, sexual abuse, etc)
- Intimidation by incompetent or irresponsible professionals
- Intimidation by scientists and physicians (human experimentation relating
to tolerance of radioactivity, biochemical agents, etc)
- Intimidation by service and shop personnel
- Intimidation by teachers
- Intimidation by legal harassment
Socially-induced terror (groups)
- Intimidation by street gangs (bullying, torture, etc)
- Intimidation by labour unions
- Intimidation of proprietors (racketeering, etc)
- Intimidation by organized crime
- Intimidation by ethnic groups
- Intimidation by opposite gender
- Intimidation by cults
- Intimidation by community or peer sanction (ostracism, shunning, etc)
Socially-induced terror (individuals)
- Intimidation by kidnappers
- Intimidation through death threats
- Intimidation by stalkers
- Intimidation by students
- Intimidation by the physically advantaged of the physically or mentally
disadvantaged (carers, hospices, etc)
- Intimidation by the mentally advantaged of the physically or mentally disadvantaged
(carers, hospices, etc)
- Intimidation of pedestrians by drivers
- Intimidation by landlords (bullying, loss of tenancy, etc)
- Intimidation by neighbours
- Intimidation by competitors and rivals
- Intimidation by criminals (serial killers, sociopaths, etc)
- Intimidation by street violence (muggers, street gangs, etc)
- Intimidation by fellow students (bullying, torture, hazing rituals, etc)
- Intimidation by drivers (tailgating, cutting in, etc)
- Intimidation by work colleagues (bullying, etc)
- Intimidation by fellow prisoners (rape, sex slavery, etc)
- Intimidation by military platoon mates (bullying, hazing rituals, etc)
Personal and domestic terror
- Sexual intimidation (rape, etc)
- Intimidation of servants (bullying, threat of job loss, threat of beating,
- Intimidation of spouse (bullying, domestic violence, etc)
- Intimidation by siblings (bullying, torture, etc)
- Intimidation by parents (child abuse, etc)
- Intimidation by in-laws (dowry-related, etc)
- Intimidation through induced phobias:
- of the dark
- of being alone
- of open spaces (wilderness, etc)
- of insects
- etc [checklist]
- Intimidation by the media (horror movies, etc)
- Intimidation through hoaxes (duplicity, harassment, hazing, "only a
- Intimidation by extraterrestrials (abductions, etc)
- Intimidation by beliefs in the supernatural (demons, evil spirits, evil
eye, ghosts, etc)
- Intimidation by witchdoctors
- Intimidation through superstition (inauspicious, etc)
- Intimidation by the unknown
- Intimidation by the prospect of:
- ageing (loss of looks, senility, dependency, etc)
- being forgotten
- being unrecognized
- being ignored
- being impotent
- Intimidation by alienation of affection
Broadening the taxonomy of terrorism
It may well be that a more appropriate approach to a framework for a taxonomy
of terrorism is a mix of the following:
Origins of European understandings of "fear": The work of
Jan Edward Garret (see Table 1) distinguishes varieties of fear in the classical
Greek and Roman literature that is basic to understanding of so many terms in
European languages. He notes the classical definition of fear as a disorder
arising from expectation of evil; a belief of threatening evil which seems to
the subject of it insupportable
Table 1: Varieties of Fear
according to the Classical Stoa (2000)
Jan Edward Garret
|Variety of fear
||Sluggishness: fear of ensuing toil
||Shame: fear of disgrace
||Paralyzing fear which causes paleness, trembling
and chattering of teeth
||Fear of approaching evil
||Fear upsetting the mental balance
|| Fear following upon the heels of fright
||Lust for beholding someone who is not present
Understanding of himsa in Sanskrit: The concept of ahimsa
is based on recognition of the forms of injury (himsa) to which any philosophy
of non-violence (ahimsa) must necessarily be attentive. It is notably
fundamental to the Jain religion but has been central to some understandings
of peace activism. In Table 2, a simplified version of the Jain approach to
himsa is presented.
Table 2: Himsa
(from a Jain
|Arambhaja or Arambhi Himsa,
|Udyami Himsa, (industrial injury)
- Asi: through the profession of a soldier,
- Masi: through the profession of a writer,
- Krshi: through the profession of an agriculturist,
- Vanijya: through the profession of a trader,
- Silpa: through the profession of an artisan, and
- Vidya: through the profession of an intellectual.
|Committed in the performance of necessary domestic acts, such as preparation
of food, keeping the house, body, clothes and other things clean, construction
of buildings, wells, gardens, and other structures, keeping cattle, etc.
||Committed in defense of person and property, against thieves, robbers,
dacoits, assailants and enemies, in meeting their aggression, and in causing
the least possible injury, necessary in the circumstances, in which one
may find oneself.
Anarambhaja or Anarambhi or Samkalpi Himsa
(Non-occupational or Intentional Injury)
Cross-cutting distinctions are made between
- Sthula Himsa vs Sukshma Himsa:
- Sthula Himsa: the destruction of the higher forms of life from dvindriyas,
i.e., two-sensed beings upwards
- Sukshma Himsa: taking of life in any form including even the killing
of ekendriyas, i.e., one sensed beings. (The lay Jain is also enjoined
to avoid the useless destruction of Sthavara-Jivas, i.e., immobile souls).
- Dravya vs Bhava: the absence of compassion shown when a man allows
himself to be carried away by anger. Hence a distinction has been made between
- Dravya Himsa, i.e., the actual hurt or injury and
- Bhava Himsa, i.e., the intention to hurt or injury to vitality.
- Bahya vs Antargata:
- Bahya i.e. external aspects: the external or actual acts of killing
- Antargata, i.e., internal aspects: the internal or intentional side
of committing of injury.
- Vyavahara vs Nischaya Naya points of view:
- Vyavahara Naya, i.e., the practical point of view: hurting of the
vitalities by passional vibrations, namely injury of any kind to the material
or conscious vitalities caused through passionate activity of mind, body
- Nischaya Naya, i.e., the real point of view: the intentional side
of injury, even when passions to hurt others arise in the mind.
Panetics: The systematic work of the International
Society for Panetics, founded by Taoist R G H Siu, is concerned with the
sensitivity and vigilance required of any ethical system. Its focus on suffering
and its infliction raises the question of the relationship between suffering
and the fear it engenders. This work has notably identified:
- Ways of inflicting suffering: Some 3,700 English terms relating to the notion
of "inflict" (R G H Siu. Less Suffering for Everybody, 1993;
- Analysis of the infliction process (R G H Siu. Panetics and Dukkha: an
integrated study of the infliction of suffering and the reduction of infliction.
1993; Chapter 5) in which he distinguishes the following modulating factors
(relevant to any taxonomy) of terrorism:
- personality and psychological state
- institutional interests
- rules, morality, and love
- justifications and rationalizations
- virtual presences
- public relations
- solace and explanation
- pursuit of happiness
- craving for money
- thirst for knowledge
- lust for power and urge to win
- irresponsibility and thoughtlessness
- Contemporary case study: United States of America (R G H Siu. Panetics
and Dukkha: an integrated study of the infliction of suffering and the reduction
of infliction. 1993; Chapter 4) (see Table 5 below)
Varieties of love: The very extensive literature on the varieties of
love and loving (as the polar opposite of fear and terrifying) suggests that
the methodology employed in such studies might be used for a better understanding
of fear (cf Robert M. Young. Love:
from libido theory to object relations). This is especially the case
given the intimate relationship between love and fear in love-making (versus
rape, for example) and the recognized eroticism of torture -- as well as the
justifications advanced for responding to "terrorism" in the name
of a Christian-inspired civilization emphasizing "love". Just as Sanskrit
distinguishes some 80 terms for love, the point has been made by Stephen Post
Love and Ultimate Reality, 2003) that:
The Greek' s were more careful to make linguistic distinctions. They had a
myriad of words for love: "eunoia" refers to good will or benevolence,
"physike" to kindness toward people of one's own race, "xenike"
to kindness toward guest's and strangers, "erotike" to sexual desire,
"eros" to impassioned attraction, "philia" to friendship, "storge"
to tenderness, and "agape" to a disinterested affection. Agape, divine
limitless love, would be taken up by emergent Christianity and identified
as the essential nature of God. This affectionate love for all humanity seems
to have at least some place in all major religious traditions of the world.
Metaphoric articulation of fear: Several authors have explored the consequences
of the creative and uncritical reframing of fear through metaphor.
- Susan Sontag (Illness
as Metaphor and AIDS and its Metaphors, 2001)
- Robert L. Ivie (The 'Other' Within the Body Politic: Disease, Democracy,
and National Defense, 2000; Democracy, War, and Metaphors of Disease
in U.S. Political Culture, 1999; Constructing a Republic of Fear: Frightful
Metaphors in the Containment Rhetoric of Kennan, Truman, and Eisenhower,
1996; Metaphors of Fear and Their Cold War Legacy, 1993)
- Michael Benton (commenting
on Peter Linebaugh and Mark Rediker. The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves,
Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, 2000)
"The first narrative is that of the Atlantic ruling classes as they seek
to consolidate their control of this new Empire and create legitimizing myths
to justify their acts of "terror" used to pacify resistant populations-both
at home and abroad. The second narrative, which is more important to the authors,
is the alliances formed amongst multi-ethnic workers in response to the brutal
conditions of this new empire. These resistances are the main theme of Many-Headed
Hydra. Linebaugh and Rediker explore the various resistances to these
global colonizing forces through the metaphors of "terror" that the dominant
society used to demonize alternative lifestyles. Prominent amongst these was
the image of the multi-headed Hydra that the mythic Hercules had to destroy
as one of his heroic labors. The mythical Hydra would sprout two heads in
the place of every head that was lopped off by Hercules. In a final desperate
move Hercules used a torch to sear the severed necks in order to prevent new
heads from sprouting. It was the legitimizing myths of political theorists,
like Francis Bacon, that supported the representation of marginalized peoples
as monstrous forces that threatened the ordered progression of society".
- George Lakoff (Metaphors
of Terror, 2001; Don't
Think of an Elephant Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, 2004)
- However it is only in a commentary on a classical text from Judaism that
metaphor seems to be used to distinguish between the varieties of fear. Rabbinical
commentary (see Table 3) distinguishes five instances in which the weak cast
fear over the strong: "The fear of the lion for the mafgia, the fear
of an elephant for a mosquito, the fear of a scorpion for a spider, the fear
of the eagle for a swallow, the fear of Leviathan for a stickleback fish"
Table 3: Five Kinds of Fear
(adapted here into tabular form)
|The fear of a lion for a mafgia
("a small animal with a loud voice")
||This fear is a fear
rooted in ourselves--there is no real danger, and yet we feel consumed. Our
spirit, our strength, flies away.
|The fear of an elephant for a
||The mosquito flies up
the elephant's trunk. The mosquito cannot kill the elephant, he can barely
hurt him, but he drives the lumbering beast crazy...terrorists are like
a mosquito in a nation's trunk. They can do real damage yes, they can kill
persons--many, many persons, but they cannot destroy a People. They can drive
a whole nation crazy
|The fear of a scorpion for a
||In rabbinic lore, a
topical treatment of crushed spider juice is the antidote to the bite of
a scorpion. From the perspective of a person, then, the spider is a life-saver,
but consider what this means for the scorpion. What is a scorpion without
his venom?--just an oversized spider. The spider steals the scorpion's power
|The fear of an eagle for a swallow
||The little swallow perches
under the wings of the eagle, preventing the great bird from spreading her
wings... this as a moral fear. The swallow does not allow the eagle to soar.
|The fear of Leviathan
||A smothered Leviathan
sinks to the depths, and with him sink our faith, our hopes, our commitment
to waiting and working for a better world. This last fear is the gravest
fear of all: a fear that evil rules this world, and that this world is all
Engendering fear through the arts: Given the overwhelming role of the
entertainment media in seeking innovative ways to engender fear (see below),
the understanding of the varieties of fear as aesthetic devices is instructive
for a broader understanding of terrorism. Oscar Sharp with Tom DeVille have
produced such a taxonomy as a guide to developing horror films (see Table 4).
Table 4: Taxonomy
Oscar Sharp with Tom DeVille
(adapted here into tabular form)
|Modes of cinematic fear
||Anticipatory fear "Something's
|| Suspense: narrative anticipation
of the known
Tension 'dread): narrative anticipation of the
Terror: empathic anticipation of the known
Tension: empathic anticipation of the unknown
Extra-narratalogical anticipation of the unknown
Making what is usually nice - or just everyday - seem
This includes Horror of the Self
||Loss of control - Helplessness
Empathic loss of control
Personal loss of control
|Need to protect
Removal of support
|| Stimulating common irrational
|| Empathic physiological pain
Direct physiological pain
|Emotional contexts that inspire
|| Direct physiological discomfort
Empathic physiological discomfort
Empathic psychological discomfort
Narrative psychological discomfort
|| Direct disgust
Ironic empathic disgust
|| Natural horror
|| Physiological horror
Questions in distinguishing terror and terrorism
In reviewing frameworks like those above, some guiding questions include:
- How afraid does a person need to be before they are considered to be terrified?
- Can we say the quality of fear felt by one person is different to the quality
of fear felt by another?
- How to distinguish -- and possibly thereby marginalize -- the degree of
fear of a vulnerable person (elderly, child, etc) exposed to non-terrorist
threat, as compared to the fear associated with the action of terrorists?
- If the essence of terrorism is the deliberate targeting of innocents to
further political goals, how is "innocence" to be defined in an
exploitative society based on increasingly institutionalized inequality? If
the claim -- made by terrorists in targeting innocents is that they are "fighting
for justice" -- is "morally bankrupt", to what extent is the
failure to address the issues of those suffering from starvation, disease
and injustice also morally bankrupt?
- If terrorism is defined as any use of violence for the purpose of putting
any section of the public in fear (cf UK Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1976),
what degree of fear is implied and how is that distinct from fear-inducing
movies, for example? How is the use of violence by dominant groups (as a political
goal to maintain their position through "security measures") to
be distinguished from the goals of groups and individuals in seeking freedom
from that dominance?
- If the organized response to an act defined as "terrorism" includes
the infliction of maximal pain (to induce "terror" in suspects under
interrogation) is defined as "legitimate", and therefore not to
be defined as "terrorism", what is the status of this exculpatory
argument if the pain infliction is not properly based in law? This is the
challenge to George Bush and his supporters, given that he affirmed that his
(political) response was not to be constrained by the Geneva Conventions,
that such acts were deliberately undertaken in an extrajudicial context (eg
the Guantanamo facility), and that observers have expressed concern that they
were indeed war crimes [more].
Does the fact that the nature of the enabling presidential decisions to encourage
such use of maximal pain have only reluctantly been made public suggest a
stealthy use of violence to create fear for political ends -- namely a form
of terrorism according to common definitions? Or is "terrorism"
only something that others do?
- Just as a case is made for a "just war" by civilized countries
(with terrifying collateral damage to innocent civilians), a case is made
for supportive participation by covert military forces in the destabilization
of regimes for political ends -- also with terrifying collateral damage [more].
How are those foreign force participants to be distinguished from "terrorists"?
Who determines that they are not?
- How arbitrary is the distintinction between "mercenaries" and
"terrorists". George Monbiot (Pedigree
Dogs of War, Guardian, 25 January 2005) explores how some people
who engage in foreign conflicts are called terrorists, whereas others are
distinguished as businessmen licensed by the government of their home country.
He asks why an alleged engagement in foreign military operations is called
terrorism one moment and business the next. The UK government, for example,
seeks to distinguish between "responsbile and disreputable private-sector
operators", in order to "encourage and support the former"
-- thus allowing it to support military action by such operators, without
having to declare war or seek parliamentary approval.
- At what point dies "intimidation" become "terrorism"?
Or is it always a kind of "terrorism-lite"? What weight should be
attached to the claims of the "intimidated" ("terrorized"?)
as against that attached to the denials of the "intimidator" ("terrorist")?
- How dissimilar from modern day terrorist militia activities are the acts
of the Bushwackers
and Jayhawkers during the American Civil War? Which groups active in that
war, if any, should be more correctly labelled as "terrorists" according
to modern criteria? What of the contemporary supporters of those militia --
are they "terrorist sympathizers"?
- Us Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding to press queries on 10
September 2004 about the follow-up to the photographed abuses at Abu Ghraib
"on his watch", argued that there was no comparison between those
extraordinary events (perpetrated covertly by military personnel and now subject
to corrective measures) and "chopping off" heads of hostages by
terrorists on television [more].
Does this mean that genuine terror in a climate of fear was not evoked at
the Abu Ghraib facility -- even though engendering terror was a feature of
the authorized interrogation techniques employed, to the degree that soldiers
have admitted betting on their capacity to make prisonsers soil themselves
from fear (presumably a good indicator of terror) (see Use
of Dogs to Scare Prisoners Was Authorized, Washington Post,
11 June 2004)?
- Some cultures consider official execution of any form to be barbaric, whether
practiced by terrorist militia or by the USA, whether televised or not. In
terms of creating an addictive taste for terorism in a population, how are
occasional real executions (broadcast to cultures having that tradition) to
be compared with multi-channel, 24-hour, worldwide bradcasting of fictional
murder, mutilation, torture and gore of maximal brutality? Who distinguishes
effectively between televised exposure to "real" terror and to "reel"
- To what extent does repeated empathetic engagement in the televised perpetration
of terror-inducing acts by movie heroes, and appreciative observation of their
consequences on the victims, transform the viewer into a "terrorist"?
- Animal rights activists deplore the painful experiences to which scientists
subject animals in experiments (justified by the value of such work to humanity),
whilst denying the significance of any terror experienced by the animal. How
is this "terrorism", of which scientists are accused, to be distinguished
from the "terrorism" of which the activists are themselves accused
in seeking to block such experimentation. Can the distinction be appropriately
made without having been exposed to the reality of animals in such laboratory
environments -- or in abbatoirs?
- Animal rights activists perceive the activities of the pro-hunting community
as a form of terrorism --against animals killed for pleasure. However, if
pro-hunting activists engage in any form of protest, as with their penetration
of the UK Houses of Parliament (Invasion
of the Commons, The Guardian, 16 September 2004), to what extent
should they be assumed to be "terrorists" or treated as "terrorist
suspects"? If they are killed by security forces, would this action be
considered legitimate -- applying the precautionary principle to assume that
they were indeed terrorists? How would the situation be treated (by the media,
for example) if some of them were of apparent Arab extraction?
- To what extent should the annual ritual slaughter of sheep (at the festival
of Eid el-Kebir), by the head of each Muslim household, be recognized as a
form of terrorism -- even though studies show "no sign of distress in
the animals" when they are able to see others being slaughtered nearby
- How to distinguish the terror experienced in an incident of exposure to
a dangerous driver, or a mugger, from an incident involving a terrorist?
- From the perspective of those exposed to extreme intimidation in institutional
environments (prison violence and sex slavery, bullying in the military or
in the playground, student hazing, etc), at what point do they have every
right to perceive themselves as victims of "terrorism"? How is the
the toleration of such behaviour (or its denial) by authorities to be compared
with their toleration of extreme fear in non-institutional contexts where
such authorities have power and arrogate to themselves the right to define
what is "terrorism" in such a way as to deny their own role in it?
- "Fear of the Lord" is fundamental to the current Christian-inspired
approach to world order (Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the Lord [is] the
beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.") [more].
How is such fear to be distinguished from the "climate of fear"
which is the objective of terrorism? (see Is
God a Terrorist: Definitional game-playing by the Coalition of the Willing?
- How is the extreme terror caused by "anti-terrorist" security
forces -- before killing a person (or their child) in a search and destroy
mission in the name of peace and democracy -- to be distinguished from the
actions of a terrorist bent on creating mayhem?
- To what degree are the actors, in a confrontation engendering terror, free
to define each other as a "terrorist" -- especially when the death
of one by a bullet from the other (pre-defined as an "anti-terrorist")
is accepted as prima facie evidence confirming that the one killed
was necessarily a "terrorist"? Who controls judgements in this radical
definitional process? Is this pre-emptive justice the legitmating framework
for pre-emptive strikes?
Distinguishing degrees of fear and terror
Fear can be described by different terms in accordance with its relative degrees.
Fear covers a number of terms -- terror, fright, paranoia, horror, persecution
complex. Terror then refers to a pronounced state of fear, where someone becomes
overwhelmed with a sense of immediate danger [more].
In distinguishing degrees of fear and terror, how relevant are the following
- Should degrees of fear be distinguished according to a metaphor such as
heating water: low order fear corresponding to "tepid", mild fear
to "warm", and severe fear to "hot" -- with only "boiling"
corresponding to "terror"? Or are there more appropriate distinctions
explored by specialists in interrogation?
If the water-heating metaphor is meaningful it might be usefully combined
with the classic story of the experience of two frogs, one exposed suddenly
and the other gradually to heated water. What then is to be said of the "terror"
experienced by someone exposed suddently to a "terrifying" situation,
as compared to someone who has been gradually exposed to an increasingly fearful
environment? As with the frog subjected to progressively hotter water, does
the person's adaptation imply that "terror" is never actually experienced
(before he or she dies of "fright")? How do people living in extremely
fearful environments distinguish "terror"?
- VIPs, whether government leaders, corporate executives, or celebrities,
or the paranoid wealthy, increasingly make use of bodyguards (close protection
officers or protection specialists) in response to death threats and the possibility
of kidnapping. The number of such bodyguards, or the budget allocated to them,
may be considered a quantitative measure of the level of fear under which
the protected person lives. In 2000 hundreds of bodyguards were being funded
(at an estimated cost £50m each year) by the UK government for public figures
considered to be at risk. British MPs may have one. Coverage may range from
one (namely a team of 3 for 24-hour coverage), to 10 or more for special events
(as in the case of Salman Rushdie), to 35 in the case of Mohamed al-Fayed,
to £30m per year for the UK Royal Family [more].
From such a perspective, the rising cost of protection of the most powerful
man on the planet may ironically be considered as a measure of the level of
fear under which the champion of freedom lives: At the time of the American
Civil War, 3 people were required for presidential protection at The White
House. By 1895 this had risen to 27, rising thereafter as follows: 1917, 34;
1930, 48; 1935, 60; 1940, 80; 1947, 110; 1952, 170; 1967, 213; 1970, 850;
to an estimated level of 1200 [more].
In the USA, following 9/11, the needs of homeland security have ecalated the
investment in personal security -- which might again be used as a quantitative
measure of the level of fear. In fiscal year 2004, the USA $41.347 billion
homeland security budget request was a $3.2 billion increase over 2003 [more]
- Given the security preoccupation with distinct levels of threat, can levels
of fear or terror be usefully correlated with the US DEFense CONdition (defense
readiness) typology? In the USA, in the event of a national emergency, a series
of seven different alert Conditions (LERTCONs) can be called. The 7 LERTCONs
are broken down into 5 Defense Conditions (DEFCONs) and 2 Emergency Conditions
(EMERGCONs). Defense readiness conditions (DEFCONs) describe progressive alert
postures primarily for use between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders
of unified commands and are graduated to match situations of varying military
severity. They are are phased increases in combat readiness [more]:
In direct response to the terrorist threat, TotalSecurity.US, has partnered
with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to establish and create two
new phases in the Homeland Security Advisory System resulting in a seven-colour
scale understanding of collective threat [more]
- DEFCON 5: Normal peacetime readiness
- DEFCON 4: Normal, increased intelligence and strengthened security measures
- DEFCON 3: Increase in force readiness above normal readiness
- DEFCON 2: Further Increase in force readiness, but less than maximum
- DEFCON 1: Maximum force readiness
A fundamental question that might be asked is why no corresponding threat level
scales exist for the kinds of terrifying situation experienced by many independently
of any terrorist threat (narrowly defined)? For example:
- In measures of quality of life, what kind of scale would be appropriate
to distinguish the level of fear (or terror) associated with a privileged
environment in contrast with one of extreme poverty, notably in inner city
urban slum environments? How are degrees of existential fear to be distinguished
-- notably those characteristic of some mental disorders?
How is it that, in areas vulnerable to bush fires, risk
level indicators are in widespread use as a warning to adjust behaviour
appropriately? Would it not be appropriate to position such indicators in
urban environments to indicate the fear/threat level? A precedent for such
an approach is the Doomsday
Clock indicator maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
from 1947 (and standing at 7 minutes to midnight since 2003).
- How is it that with respect to species of plant and animal (and irrespective
of any possible terror the species might be assumed to experience under the
circumstances), an IUCN scale of different levels of threat to their possible
extinction is widely used?
- Matching threats to species, an associated scale is also used with respect
to threats to ecosystems (whose quality of "terror" is presumably
beyond understanding through any currently favoured anthropomorphic models).
For example, with respect to forested areas, distinctions may be made between:
- Parcel is in danger of conversion to non-forest use within 5 years
- Parcel may remain wooded, but will become further subdivided within
- Parcel is currently for sale on the open market.
- Parcel may remain wooded but is in danger of being harvested in a non-sustainable
- Parcel contains a remnant of a diminishing forest type
- Infrastructure extensions are imminent in the area. [more]
- How is it that the movie industry is under pressure to develop somewhat
analogous scales to distinguish movies suitable for kids from those (more
terrifying) requiring adult guidance, or designed only for adults?
- Would it not be appropriate to adapt the statistical conclusions of the
UN Human Development Report, which
seeks to distinguish conditions of quality of life, in order to correlate
them with levels of fear and terror? Is the failure to acknowledge the "quality
of fear" under some circumstances tanatamount to a cynical indulgence
in political correctness that uses "quality of life" to put a euphemistic
gloss on lives undermined by such fear?
- Given the availability of data on "small arms" and "light
weapons" in civilian hands, it is worth considering whether the percentage
of households wih firearms could be used as an indication of the level of
the "climate of fear" in a country. Such weapons, whether used in
attack or defence, could be considered as a kind of "unit of terror".
Aside from gun related deaths, in one of the largest studies, based on a standardized
survey of victimization in 54 countries, gun ownership was significantly related
to both the level of robberies and the level of sexual assaults. There was
also evidence that high levels of gun ownership, such as exist in the US,
the former Yugoslavia, South Africa, and several Latin American countries,
are strongly related to higher levels of violence generally (Wendy Cukier.
Arms: A Major Public Health Hazard, 2001)
- Given the research of R G H Siu and the International
Society for Panetics on the concept of the "dukkha" as a measure
of suffering, to what extent can that be adapted to measurement of degrees
of fear ? What is the correlation between suffering and fear? For the panetics
community, the dukkha is a measure of the intensity and duration of pain and
anguish adapted from the 9-point hedonic scale used to provide subjective
judgements in market research. In this light the 9-point dukkha scale is as
follows (from R G H Siu. Less Suffering for Everybody, 1993: Chapter
According to this approach, one dukkha expresses the amount of suffering endured
by one person experiencing one intensity unit for one day (roughly the equivalent
to the amount of suffering felt by one person with a moderate toothache for
eight hours). A megadukkha represents the order of magnitude of suffering sustained
by 1,000 persons for about 10 hours a day, for a year, with severe stomach ulcers
and without medication. Siu applied this tentatively to the USA as indicated
in Table 5. The question is how such indicators relate to the creation of a
climate of fear associated with that suffering. The approach is explored further
by Johan Galtung (Panetics
and the Practice of Peace and Development, 1999)
- Level 1: noticeable
- Level 2: bothersome
- Level 3: moderate
- Level 4: considerable, seeking relief
- Level 5: middle point, interfering with daily life
- Level 6: quite a lot
- Level 7: miserable, seeking physician or other healer
- Level 8: excruciating
- Level 9: unbearable, wanting to die
Table 5. Estimated
suffering in megadukkhas
inflicted by Americans on fellow Americans in 1979 (*)
(R G H Siu. Panetics and Dukkha: an integrated study of the infliction
of suffering and the reduction of infliction. 1993; Chapter 4, Table
|Career government officials
|Public media persons
|Others, including parents
|| 1, 100
|| 1, 100
(*) Estimates based on incomplete data
In exploring a more general taxonomy for the varieties of fear and terror --
which may well drive terrorism as now publicized -- there is an important case
to be made for attentiveness to definitional game-playing and conceptual gerrymandering
Definitional boundaries are in process of being promoted and institutionalized
for political reasons. This strategy is bracketing off the forms of terror that
many experience but that have not been legitimated by the preoccupations of
the Coalition of the Willing.
Any web search of "terrified by" and "terrified of" (respectively
57,800 and 149,000 documents via Google) is indicative of the range of sources
of terror beyond those of the preoccupations of the Coalition of the Willing.
Who, or what, are the causative agents of all these other kinds of terror? Surely
not al-Qaida? Is there a real danger that the outmoded mindset underpinning
racist views of ethnic groups is re-emerging in support of a form of "conceptual
apartheid" -- distinguishing forms of terror particularly threatening to
the privileged from those that can be neglected in relation to the underprivileged
It might indeed be said of that Coalition that it is above all characterized
by a willingness to tolerate all forms of terror bar that for which its institutional
systems can be retargeted -- having previously demonstrated far less than modest
success in retargeting those systems to address more common forms of terror
(associated with poverty, disease, urban violence, etc). The extremely tardy
response in 2004 to the major humanitarian disaster in Dafur (Sudan) is but
one example. In this sense it might be asked whether the Coalition of the Willing
is above all fearful of its own shadow (see Attacking
the Shadow through Iraq, 2002). Curiously the old concept of the "bogeyman"
is increasingly cited in relation to terrorism. Is the international community
basically terrified by the bogeyman
under its own "bed", or in its "attic" -- or maybe in its
Training for intimidation and terrorism
To what extent should blood sports be considered as a form of training in terrorism?
Fox hunting, for example, would appear to offer many parallels to search and
destroy missions. Does it develop appreciation of the methods of targeted killing
-- and total indifference to the level of terror created in the victim?
It could be argued that such experiences condition people to the acceptability
of subsequently engendering terror in those they define as non-human -- a practice
developed in relation to slaves, indigenous peoples, and "people of colour",
as well as to those of "below-average" intelligence. Michael Moore's
movie Fahreheit 911 includes footage of drivers of armoured personnel
carriers in Iraq on missions to the accompaniment of suitable music. How does
their experience differ from that of video games -- or of the Gulf War "turkey
shoot" of which US military boasted in 1991:
U.S. military forces, in violation of international law, fired on retreating
and largely defenseless Iraqi soldiers just before the cease-fire. U.S. pilots
described it in news accounts as a "turkey shoot" and "like shooting fish
in a barrel." [more
Two days after the Gulf War cease-fire, the 24th Infantry Division demolished
a retreating Iraqi Republican Guard tank division near the Rumaila oil field
at hardly any cost of American life. [more]
The point is reinforced by the total lack of official interest in documenting
the number of Iraqi civilian deaths in Iraq.
Many of the aspects and circumstances of intimidation are repeatedly rehearsed
every day on television and on widely available videos and video games. Ironically
again, it might be said that television provides continuous "educational"
and "training" programmes in support of intimidation and its techniques.
It is difficult to imagine how populations could be given a more thorough orientation
in support of the techniques of terrorism -- or nourished in their various forms
From this perspective, television provides the most comprehensive, and essentially
free, adult education programme undertaken by any civilization -- in the art
of terrorism. Specific movies could be usefully associated as illustrative examples
of each of the above forms of terrorism -- annotated according to their degree
of refinement. What role do movies like Mel Gibson's controversial portrayal
of the Crucifixion in the The
Passion of the Christ (2003) play in cultivating Christian attitudes
to state-sponsored terror against those with whom the dominant majority disagrees?
Golliwogs as a children's
toy were eliminated in the 1980s and 1990s in campaigns of anti-racist political
correctness. It is therefore curious that, given the terror that it is recognized
that a cat engenders in a mouse, even when "playing" with it, there
is little sensitivity to the subtle role that a classical cartoon like Tom
and Jerry (160 since 1940) may play in reframing terrifying others in
one's power as fun? Terrorism as fun? As cited by Carolyn Conley (The
Agreeable Recreation Of Fighting, Journal of Social History,
Fall, 1999), Don Atyeo point outs:
"The thing about sports is it legitimizes violence, thereby laundering it
acceptably clean. Incidents routinely occur in the name of sport which if
they were perpetrated under any other banner short of open warfare would be
roundly condemned as crimes. . . . The pain inflicted in sport is somehow
not really pain at all; it is Tom and Jerry pain, cartoon agony which doesn't
hurt." (Blood and Guts: Violence in Sports, 1979)
Many of the strategies employed by terrorists (in the narrowest sense) have
been explored (in the greatest of detail and in advance of their use in practice)
in such movie scenarios -- including many employing the use of airplanes [more
| more | more].
Many also focus on rogue agencies, rogue agents and various levels of covert
action and denial. Movie producers exploit every opportunity to respond creatively
to new scenario possibilities for engendering fear -- to the extent that the
Pentagon has called upon Hollywood to enhance anti-terrorism preparedness [more
| more | more].
In a real sense the population is programmed to anticipate -- and possibly to
engender -- new sources of fear (bioterrorism, aliens, doomsday scenarios, etc).
What such movie scenarios are unable to achieve is the articulation of a credible
imaginative approach to the ordinary terror tainting so many lives. Basically
it does not make for good television. It it is not focused on the excitement
of terrorist action as an "evil" happening and the response to it
in the short-term by heroic "special forces" (with playing-card wanted
lists, using targetted extrajudicial assassinations, etc) in defence of the
"fundamental values" of civilization -- the "good guys"
versus the "bad guys".
The focus is on destructive remedial action ("action movies" by "alpha
males") with a positive resolution in the short-term. Such programming
suggests that viewers have become addicted to "terrorism" in some
form -- with media companies effectively acting as "pushers". The
"quick fix" such programmes provide in the "reel world"
frames expectations with regard to terrorism and the response to it in the "real"
world". Exposure to "evil" elsewhere would appeare to be a vital
stimulus to life in modern civilization (cf Needing
Evil Elsewhere, 2001)
The movie industry responds extremely poorly to the need to give credibility
to alternatives that address long-term systemic ills rather than short-term
disasters. In that sense it not only offers training to those inclined to terrorism
as an alternative but also fails to articulate those alternatives that might
remedy the systemic ills that engender them. Indeed movies tend to reinforce
any tendency to conflate terrorism with dissidence and alternative modes of
action. Ironically they also highlight the probability of betrayal of fundamental
values by those in authority.
|Arguments for or against "moral equivalence" are
of course pure exercises in scholasticism
to those terrorized by unrestrained violence -- irrespective
of the belief of those perpetrating it.
"Terrorism-alpha" vs "Terrorism-beta"
It is perhaps useful to distinguish between:
- "Terrorism-alpha" as the narrowly defined form of terrorism
(emphasizing the total responsibility of the immediate perpetrators and the
total innocence of the victims). As the "evil needed elsewhere",
it affects very few and relatively rarely (even in comparison with road accidents).
It lends itself to extensive media coverage using individual human tragedy
as a form of emotional camouflage (based on unchallengable "motherhood
statements") to facilitate simplistic analysis and to avoid questioning
of strategic assumptions. It offers considerable opportunities for immediate
action by reallocation of resources to the military-industrial complex and
by restriction of human rights in the name of national security. This assumes
(or sets up) an identifiable target -- a "linchpin" -- as the focus
for the delivery of a "silver bullet".
- "Terrorism-beta" as the more inclusive understanding of
terrorism that recognizes the experience of terror amongst many over long
periods of time. Responsibilities in this case tend to be deliberately obscured
or "spun" in media coverage with little attention to the wider tragedy
for many. Since there are relatively few lucrative opportunities for the military-industrial
complex, the focus is on recognizing the most general principles of human
rights (in terms of which appeals can be made, and regrets can be sincerely
expressed) -- avoiding, to the extent possible, any sustained remedial action.
Such action, when it is successful, tends to be based on subtler conceptual
frameworks that seek to evoke widespread participation and engagement -- intuitively
recognized in counter-productive battles for "hearts and minds"
by propaganda and "psychological operations".
The media incapacity described above, with respect to collective imaginal enhancement,
frames and biases the response to terrorism into a short-term, "fix-it"
mode (terrorism-alpha). This may well be completely incompatible with the creativity
and strategic innovation required to address the systemic ills associated with
the ordinary terrors (terrorism-beta) -- that sustain those inspired to terrorism
in its narrowest sense. The historically myopic focus on terrorism-alpha, and
the principled emphasis on proximate causes ("one stop" emotive explanations),
notably obscures the long-term factors and the root causes (of terrorism-beta).
These are especially characteristic of cultures with longer memories, as with
feuding tribes, the Northern Ireland situation, or in many instances of encroachment
(see also Errorism
vs Terrorism? Encroachment, Complicity, Denial and Terraism, 2004).
The contrast between terrorism-alpha and beta might be usefully related to
the conflict between two quite different senses of time and pace (cf Jeremy
Rifkin. Time Wars: the primary conflict in human history. 1987). The
alpha variant is the fast-paced, frustrated response to modern civilization's
dilatory approach to the immediate suffering associated with terrorism-beta
amongst those embedded in a slow-paced, subsistence lifestyle. Those sustaining
the beta variant (through their slow-paced, minimalistic adaptation to the basic
needs of others) satisfy their own fast-paced needs through violent entertainment
-- and by the profitable delivery of increasingly non-essential products and
services that significantly fail to address that long-term suffering. The reaction
to terrorism-alpha by those primarily invested in the beta-variant then occurs
within the urgent time-frame of non-essential product delivery -- rather than
in terms of the sustained pacing required in response to the beta-variant.
"Terrorism-gamma" and "Terrorism-delta"?
Whilst the response to Terrorism-alpha impedes recognition of Terrorism-beta,
it might be asked whether the latter obscures a "Terrorism-gamma".
The gamma variant is likely to be much more widespread -- to the point
of being endemic in society. It is partially acknowledged, and simultaneously
excused, with such phrases as "human nature" or "being
only human" -- namely a potential, if not explicit, characteristic
of everyone as being in some way responsible for the beta form and the
generally unpeaceful nature of society.
More intriguing is the possibility of a "Terrorism-delta".
This might be the specific corollary to recognition of the gamma variant,
namely the extent to which one is oneself an "Osama bin Laden"
in some measure -- carrier in one's own psychic makeup of a covert mindset
that engenders terror of the most terrible kind. This possibility would
of course be most vigorously denied -- especially by oneself! This would
however be consistent with the preoccupations of enactivism.
It is also consistent with many spiritual insights, including the Christian
sense of personal sinfulness, and understandings of ignorance in Hinduism
in Buddhism (mithyajnana), or "forgetting God" in Islam).
These all understand personal thoughts of violence as the root cause of
wider social ills [more].
Together these four forms of terrorism appear to have a curious symmetry.
Terrorism-alpha is the extremely focused outward projection
of dysfunctionality onto Osama bin Laden, and his like-minded terrorists,
as the ultimate evil causative factor undermining the values of the civilized,
essentially good, world. The problematic nature of this world, with its
many other experienced sources of terror, is characterized by the less-focused,
more diffusely widespread Terrorism-beta. This recognition of
multiple others as a source of terror in society can however be matched
by a recognition of a diffusely shared responsibility with others
as contributing to the climate of fear -- Terrorism-gamma. The symmetry
is however completed by recognition of Terrorism-delta, of which the engendering
source is oneself, as the inner complementary focus of dysfunctionality
mirroring the outer focused projection of unmitigated evil. (see En-minding
the Extended Body: Enactive engagement in conceptual shapeshifting and
deep ecology, 2003).
Could it be that it is through an understanding of the radically existential
dimensions of Terrorism-delta that the basis can be found for fruitful
dialogue with those inspired to suicide bombing by Terrorism-alpha?
Remarkably, despite the strong resolution expressed by the Coalition of the
Willing under American leadership, the "war on terror" remains focused
on the narrowest concepts of terror (terrorism-alpha) -- best suited to media
coverage and ratings. The need to alleviate the terror experienced in daily
life (terrorism-beta) by many is not addressed -- or even recognized. It might
indeed be argued that the "climate of fear" which the "war on
terror" addresses (and paradoxically feeds) is perceived as distinct from
that experienced by individuals exposed to other forms of fear. But how is an
individual to distinguish between one "climate of fear" and the other
-- between the contextual fear and their personal fear -- when the former can
only be sensed through the latter, if at all?
Is revenge in response to a perceived act of "evil" terrorism to
be understood as itself involving terrorism or -- being "legitimate"
-- is such revenge to be understood otherwise ("an eye for an eye, a tooth
for a tooth"), possibly as a noble act in defence of fundamental values?
Is the matching belief of the "evil" terrorists only to be considered
an indication of twisted perversion -- or are there other insights to be gained?
If the focus is on proximate causes, avoiding any sense of history, how is such
a cycle of violence ever to be recognized and broken?
It would appear that legislative measures are now carefully crafted to avoid
investment in remedies to "ordinary terror" (terrorism-beta) that
do not require strategies and thinking distinct from those of the security-intelligence
community and its technology suppliers. How would a "counter-terrorism"
unit -- a national "security Tsar" -- respond to information on other
forms of terror? How would a Tsar of "homeland security" respond to
the many forms of insecurity arising from a broader experience of terror --
amongst the "serfs"?
Ironically the focused institutional re-targeting in the industrialized world
against the terrorism (of al-Qaida) is legitimating coordinated determined global
strategies that have been lacking in relation to other forms of terror -- notably
to those to which the United Nations, however impotent, has been attentive.
This irony is only too evident if terror-engendering factors ("poverty",
"malnutrition", "injustice", "disease", etc) are
substituted for "terror" in any current speech by the leadership of
the Coalition of the Willing. This then implies the will to act against "poverty-ism",
"disease-ism", "malnutrition-ism", etc -- for which many
have waited expectantly for decades.
But, just as al-Qaida terrorism calls for unconventional thinking and has made
evident the "failures of intelligence" and "failures of imagination"
of the "intelligence" and "policy-making communities", it
is only when the implication of such failures for the conventional strategic
approaches of the international community are fully recognized that the strategies
of coordination appropriate to factors engendering terrorism will be understood
the Encounter with Terrorism, 2002). Until then the Coalition of the
Willing, through its negligence, is effectively giving form to the four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse anticipated by the Christian belief system -- Conquest
(of the non-Christian world?), War (against dissidence in any form?),
Famine (of increasing proportions of the population?), and Death
(notably associated with pestilence?). (see also Spontaneous
Initiation of Armageddon -- a heartfelt response to systemic negligence,
Perhaps most ironic for the Christian-inspired Coalition of the Willing is
that their "fear of dialogue" with those of dissident views is far
greater than their "fear of terrorism". It is framed as dialogue with
the demonic. Any cost in human lives is worth paying to avoid such dialogue
and the acknowledgement of some responsibility for the terrible actions of those
to whose terror they have not listened. Whose interests are served by this?
Who needs the kind of of national unity that is sustained by such quantities
of blood and ensures that in consequence many live their lives in terror?
There is a marked tendency to marginalize, and even to criminalize and demonize,
any perspective which seeks to transcend the Coalition's framing of "either
with us or against us" ("them bad, we good"). The motiviation
of "terrorists" is considered to be, by definition, without foundation
in comparison with the legitimacy of those who escalate terror in vengeful response.
To imply other possibilities is to be identified as a fellow traveller and treated
accordingly (as a "terrorist suspect") -- as in the Cold War period.
Does this not suggest a fundamental degree of insecurity in relation to the
values of civilization as currently interpreted and promoted? Are they indefensible
in rational discourse?
The international "war on drugs" has acquired an unusual significance
now that Coalition forces are regularly sent to war on drugs in Iraq ('Go
pills': A war on drugs? , 2003) [more
| more | more].
It might be asked whether this particular strategic twist is also being used
by leaders of the Coalition in going to "war on terror". As such are
they using the long-term unacknowledged terror of others as their "warhorse"
-- whether inadvertently, or deliberately? (see The
"Dark Riders" of Social Change, 2002).
Language used in response to terror (Google)
"war on terror" (3,270,000 hits), "war on terrorism"
" war against terrorism" (385,000), "war against terror"
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