On terrorism

Sunday, 18 January, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Terrorism is a particular use of violence. It is distinguished from the process of law in that violence is applied arbitrarily - chance dictates who the victims will be, rather than through a codified, rationally predictable process. The intended reflection of the process of law in the mind of the bystander is, "that could never have been me". Contrariwise, the intended reflection of terrorism in the mind of the bystander is, "that could have been me just as well".

Generally, the propaganda of statal agents that intend to govern through the manipulation of Justice through the application of some process of law or other tends to offer terrorism as bad (an ethics consideration) or evil (a moral consideration). Symmetrically, the propaganda of statal agents that intend to govern through some manipulation of Freedom through the application of some terrorism or other tends to offer the process of law as bad, or evil. Thus, the three socialist regimes whose meaningless yet destructive scuffle is remembered as World War Two took turns : the westernmost to represent terrorism as bad and evil and the process of law as right and proper ; the central to represent terrorism as right and proper and the process of law as bad and evil, with the easternmost keeping out of the matter entirely and shuffling among the two paradigms as circumstance dictated.

Terrorism and process of law are not in any sense married to the state. When wielded by agents hostile to the state, they can and sometimes do result in the destruction of same. If handled ineptly, however, they can result in the unintended strengthening of the enemy. The circumstances which decide which way that wheel spins are many and varied, but let's consider some historical examples.

  • Tsarist Russia, an autocratic, legalistic construction built on top of a weak, gullible and dependent people was effectually destroyed by terrorism over a few short decades. The circumstance that the legalistic construction rested on a very narrow pool of possible candidates for leadership ensured the effectuality and efficiency of terrorism as an anti-statal weapon.

  • Austro-Hungary, an autocratic, legalistic construction built on top of a large diversity of reasonably competent and independent but utterly disloyal people was similarly destroyed by terrorism, arguably over the course of one summer. The same circumstance, aggravated by the brittle balance of power on the continent yielded the same eventual results, only bloodier.

  • The United States, a republican, arbitraryi construction built on top of competent, reasonably independent people was destroyed by the process of law. Starting in the 60s, a strangely misguided "civil rights" movement (that festered soon after into the most colorful nonsense) infected the legal system with such absurdities as to render it unusable for any purpose, and that was that. It is true that well after the trunk was rotten, a fundamentally terrorist strike took out the brain so to speak, or what was left of it. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to ascribe the fatality to that incidental : the country was doomed well prior. A fit of coughing isn't the cause of death for the consumptive, even should death follow immediately after.ii

  • The Roman Empire, a republican, arbitrary construction built on top of competent but dependent people was sunk by the process of law. It took about century, partly because everything took longer millenia ago, partly because the Roman Empire was much larger and much more important (in all lights and over all fields) than anything prior or since but nevertheless, ever growing taxes to pay for ever expanding "rights" drove ever decreasing quality of work - as it is always the case - and soon enough

    From the foundation of the city till the reign of the Emperor Gratian, the foot wore cuirasses and helmets. But negligence and sloth having by degrees introduced a total relaxation of discipline, the soldiers began to think their armor too heavy, as they seldom put it on. They first requested leave from the Emperor to lay aside the cuirass and afterwards the helmet. In consequence of this, our troops in their engagements with the Goths were often overwhelmed with their showers of arrows. Nor was the necessity of obliging the infantry to resume their cuirasses and helmets discovered, notwithstanding such repeated defeats, which brought on the destruction of so many great cities. Troops, defenseless and exposed to all the weapons of the enemy, are more disposed to fly than fight. What can be expected from a foot-archer without cuirass or helmet, who cannot hold at once his bow and shield; or from the ensigns whose bodies are naked, and who cannot at the same time carry a shield and the colors? The foot soldier finds the weight of a cuirass and even of a helmet intolerable. This is because he is so seldom exercised and rarely puts them on.

I consider the point well proven. It is consequently upon the enemy of the state, who would see such destroyed, to think well as to which of the two approaches best serve his position.

Particularly noteworthy is the circumstance that most extant states of interestiii are in charge of very ineffectual, gullible and dependent people. It is oft observed, in the vein of Warren Buffett, that your average successful Westerner, should he find himself abandoned to his own devices in the world, would choke in his own vomit in short order. This observation is factually correct : highly specialised, mentally confused scions of a long rotten philosophy do not have either the intellectual vigor nor the general disposition to construct defensible chains from prime principles. They are consequently dependent on shortcuts to the truth, in the shape of whatever's cheapest : statal propaganda, artificially phased group noise, whatever's handy.

Terrorism, while intellectually appealing an approachiv, and widely deployed by less subtle thinkers in the Middle East, has the universal effect on the weak and the dependent to encourage them to seek the group, and so perversely reinforces the state ideologically just as it weakens it physically. It is for this reason that Western states have sought to create or if not practical to create merely invent terrorist threats. Conversely, using the process of law has all the attributes of plumbing : by the time one's done, they're covered in so much shit as to defy description and hinder recognition.

While the disappearance of the state as a going concern - its collapse from perceptible experience into remembered history alongside similar constructs like phlogiston, heavenly hosts or centaurs - is neither something that can be avoided nor should be avoided, it's altogether unclear whether the forceps of terrorism or the suction cup of legal process are the more adequate tools for helping entropy along.

  1. Hey, the only place in the world where anything could be a law, and most everything also managed it. []
  2. Notably, Japan's terrorism did not manage to hurt the US, in spite of inflicting significant damage. Back then the country was still healthy, Roosevelt's canker nothing but a superficial wound yet, and so it drew together instead of falling apart. []
  3. Ie, in the West. []
  4. Because in representing the "you could have been him" to the Westerner it tends to confront him with the absurdity of the situation he finds himself in, where there's no actual difference to be had between "terrorism" and "process of law", and as such it's a very honest, truthful approach to the problem. []
Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

4 Responses

  1. Since the state's demise as a going concern is simply a matter of entropy, and it's hard to imagine that there's anything you could do to possibly delay such an event, it would seem that the primary consideration should be with regards to the tools at hand, not just the tools historically used.

    As it seems to me that the tools at hand are largely of the Internet and intellectual assortment, in my humblest of assessments, a legal confrontation seems more feasible than the kaboom! approach. You'll just have to wear some overalls and safety glasses for, as you said, the description defying shit.

    But of course, when the destruction of one's enemy is written in the stars, one can choose to simply let him die and use his waning years as a gift with which to create new life. This is still activity that, even though it's directed towards a parallel outcome, may still hasten matters in ways not directly intended.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 18 January 2015

    Well, delay it perhaps. Hasten it, perhaps. Dubious whether it'll be very significant in either case, naturam expellas furca and all that.

    Terrorism is not = "kaboom" anymore than cooking is = steak. Cakes get cooked too. Just because historically the manner to imprint the "you're next" idea in the minds of the multitude was decimation in the day of the sword & pike and bombing in the day of saltpeter & gunpowder doesn't necessarily mean much. This for instance is terrorism just as well as anything.

    Generally, to be a law abiding citizen one doesn't have to be specifically either the policeman or the innkeep. Just as long as he's not being the robber.

  3. ...tamen usque recurret. That's more like the cat came back, no? Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus could work too.

    So perhaps kaboom! is more properly thought of as cooking. I didn't mean to imply that terrorism could only involve voluminously vested men on buses. Cooking!, then. Just as long as we're not cooking! the robber.

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 19 January 2015

    Which reminds me of Katie Kaboom.

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.