Friday, March 26, 2010

Terrorism now, terrorism forever

In an increasingly common interview-style commentary, Doug Casey cites two definitions of terrorism. From Webster's, we get "the use of force or threats to intimidate, especially as a political policy." Obviously this won't do as a generally accepted definition because it would put all governments everywhere in the category of terrorists. The politically-correct definition of terrorism thus becomes "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property, meant to intimidate or coerce a government or the civilian population as a means for achieving political or social goals." As long as an act is lawful, it cannot be considered an act of terrorism.

So, what we see in the world today are law-abiding terrorists fighting unlawful terrorists.

Asked if he thinks the U.S. can win the War on Terror, Casey said:
No. Not only is that impossible, the very idea is meaningless. Terrorism is not an enemy – it's a tactic. You can't have a war on terrorism any more than you can have a war on artillery barrages, cavalry charges – or a war on war, for that matter. The first step in winning a conflict is to identify the actual enemy. And the fools in DC can't even do that.

But before we look at the future, it's worth noting that terrorism has long been a favored tool of those in power, going all the way back to ancient times. . . .

[Y]ou could say that "the state" is actually terrorism on a grand scale. It's bizarre how most people view the state as necessary, or even benign. It may offend some of our readers, who have been programmed into believing the military can do no wrong, and that the U.S. always has God on its side, but logically, the bombings of Hamburg, Dresden, and Tokyo are prime examples of state-sponsored terrorism. World War II, in effect, legitimized the concept of mass murder of civilians. As late as World War I, the concept of incinerating whole cities would have been totally beyond the pale; WWII turned the moral clock back to the middle ages, when the wholesale slaughter of civilians was considered acceptable. I suspect the "Long 19th Century," from about 1776 to 1914, will be looked back on as a golden age, a peak of civilization, when the individual was ascendant, the state was under control, free market capitalism was lauded, and progress seemed natural and inevitable. Technology has improved since then, but it's a mistake to conflate technological progress with moral progress. . . .

[O]nly an idiot fails to recognize that in an advanced technological economy an individual can have an immense, disproportionate, effect if he wants to do damage. It's not like in pre-industrial days, when a single person was limited to perhaps setting a fire, or maybe stabbing someone. Today, an individual terrorist can alter the direction of society. And there are hundreds of millions of candidates for that role.

In my view, the trend towards terrorism as the next evolution of warfare is about as certain as they come. It's not just the U.S.; all the big nation-states are on the ragged edge of bankruptcy. Their huge bureaucracies, oppressive tax systems, complicated regulatory regimes, subsidies, bailouts, fiat currencies, and welfare programs are – every one of them – near collapse. They were confidence schemes. It's not just standing armies, but the nation-state itself is a dead man walking at this point.

L: Because the lumbering dinosaur can't compete with the fleet little mammal?

Doug: That's a good analogy. These giant dinosaur-states are thrashing around in their death-throes, and they are extremely dangerous – at least while they can still pay the salaries of their minions in the police and the military. And that very fact is stirring up a lot of little creatures that are going to want to see them die sooner.

L: I can see that; the more villages and such they bomb, the more enemies they make, and those new enemies provoke even more thrashing about, which creates even more enemies, provoking leviathan to even more violent and oppressive responses. It's a vicious cycle that sure seems to be taking the current world order down the spiral towards oblivion.

Doug: Yes, I'm completely convinced that all of the world's major nation-states are going to become much more oppressive as they try to keep things together. But it won't work. They are perpetually behind the curve, always fighting the last war. [All emphasis added]
Read the full interview here.

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